Stories & Visions

York Moments:Carried

Shared by Sydney Lancaster & Marian Switzer 9538 103A Ave., Edmonton, AB T5H 0J3, Canada York Moments:Carried Photo

We had the fantastic opportunity of working with Quarters Arts Society on a community-based art project called York Moments. This was a revisiting and revisioning of our collaborative body of work called YORK, which is a photo-based body of work examining the now-demolished York Hotel (which was right behind Boyle St Plaza). York Moments brought our initial project back into the community, to gather stories about the connections and memories people had with the old hotel. It was part of reclaiming the voices and stories that were erased with the hotel's demolition. One of the works we created with the community was a sculptural installation called "Carried" which hangs from the atrium ceiling at Boyle Street Plaza. This work had its debut at the first Nuit Blanche celebration in Edmonton as an independent project.

York Moments:Carried Photo

Mandolin Cafe

Shared by Dawn Mandolin Cafe Photo

The mandolin holds a special place in my heart and in the community of highlands. It's warm, welcoming and unique vibe makes it the perfect place to get away. Cozy on a cold winters day or a summer time patio filled with beautiful flowers.
Located in one of the oldest districts in Edmonton. Community, arts and sustainability focused. They sell and trade books, display different artists work each month and have an amazing selection of loose tea. Each time I come here it's a unique and special experience.

Mandolin Cafe Photo

this theatre is appreciated

8712 109 Street Northwest, Edmonton this theatre is appreciated Photo

I love that this theatre supports local, independent, and unusual programming. The curated series of films are wonderful. this place keeps me learning about topics near and far from my home. I wish this place had better attendance, was more broadly publicized as a gem of Edmonton.

this theatre is appreciated Photo

Repurpose Building

Shared by Natasha Corbett 7515 118 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T5B 4M9, Canada

What is most important to me about living in Edmonton is that I have always had a home to live in, and a family to care for me. I have never had to worry about being outside for a long time in a cold Edmonton winter. Or stuck outside in the sometimes very hot summers, we are in a fairly extreme climate. Not everyone in this city is as lucky, and we have homeless people in Edmonton. Often times people who end up on the streets do not actually choose to be there. When we live in a climate as unforgiving as ours, people die in the streets of Edmonton every year. It would be amazing to transform Rexall place, or part of it, into a multi-purpose rehabilitation center and housing for the homeless.
Rexall place could have large indoor gardens and greenhouses, and could have many small apartments set up to get people off the streets. Services offered could include, check in, free yoga in the mornings, registration for health care cards and any type of documentation missing, disability funding, which could help pay their rent in the little space. They could be required to participate in meditation and yoga, or exercise and mindfulness programs, could have help with goal setting classes, resume building, career information sessions, etc. (I would be willing to volunteer in this sort of facility) People could be given jobs to do around the center which would help pay for their space (at the minimum wage). This would help get people off the streets, and give them something to do, and also open up countless job opportunities for the many Edmontonians that are in need of jobs currently. People could work hours daily to clean and maintain the space, cook and provide services for others. There could be a little market place inside of the large center part of the arena. The possibilities are truly endless!
A city that lets its people die and live in homelessness is not a city to be proud of.
I would love to see Edmonton truly and wholeheartedly commit to helping all of its people, without exclusion, separation, and elitism. All egos aside, we are all human beings. All human beings are deserving of love and acceptance, and help. When we nurture and care for things, they grow and bloom. When we cast them away and tell them we hate them, they become wilted, disfigured, and die. We are only as strong as our weakest members, and we cannot move forward as humanity while we allow people to die outside because we are CHOOSING to not help, and to blame other things. The time is now to take responsibility for our people, and to do the best we can with the resources we ALREADY have available to us.
The time is now to be a leader on the world stage. Lead by example. You have to be willing to make the choice to take a chance, or things will never change. We are ready.
Thank you for reading.

A New Beginning

Shared by Natasha Corbett A New Beginning Photo

I love the little spot off Saskatchewan drive, that was affectionately referred to by its visitors as "the end of the world," which actually used to appear on google maps. The location is a old worn down structure, where people have gathered to hang out, and look at the beautiful view of the city skyline and river. Sadly, the place has decayed over the years. I know there had been plans to renovate the area, and clean up all of the garbage, create a lovely little looking spot. I was surprised to see that nothing has taken place yet, instead a fence put up and signs saying it is illegal to trespass there. Everyone continues to go anyway, because it is a truly beautiful spot. I have gone at nighttime with friends, blankets and hot chocolate in the summer time to watch a meteor shower. This spot has been the inspiration for many beautiful photos and paintings. I would love to see the area transformed, cleaned and reclaimed as a spot of inspiration and gathering for Edmontonians. I have been going to this spot for years as a quiet getaway from the city, out of earshot of the nearby streets, it is a gorgeous spot to sit and contemplate lifes great wonders. I have met some interesting people while there as well, and watched many beautiful sunsets white sitting on the perch. It would be amazing to see this hideaway transformed into a safe seating area, where people could come and enjoy a beautiful spot that Edmonton has to offer. Thank you :)

A New Beginning Photo

Mapping Rat Creek

Shared by Dustin Bajer Mapping Rat Creek Photo

Backfilled with landfill (Clark Stadium) and paved over with asphalt (Norwood Boulevard) present-day Kinnard Ravine represented only a small portion of the original creek.

Extending NW from Dawson park, under Clark stadium, down Norwood Boulevard (111th Ave), past Kingsway, and ending someone near Blatchford once ran the mighty Rat Creek ravine. Rat Creek formerly extended into the adjacent neighbourhoods of Virginia Park, Chromdale, Parkdale, Norwood, McCauley, Spruce Avenue, Central McDougal, and Prince Rupert.

Project Idea:

Part 1: I would like to work with the community and City archives to research the exact path of Rat (short of Muskrat) creek and to identify stories about it its history, use, and impact on the community.

Part 2: Just because the ravine is paved over doesn't mean it's gone. Hidden under the city exists buried infrastructure that channels the water that would have flown through Rat Creek - often still dumping into the ravine via city outfalls. In the second phase of this project, I would like to work with the drainage department to identify the historical and present-day Rat Creek catchment basin.

Part 3: May the historical and present-day Rat Creek catchment basement onto the city. Work with an artist and residents of the basin to create a unique Rat Creek logo. Work with catchment residents and schools to paint the Rat Creek logo onto existing public wastewater infrastructure (drains, utility holes, etc.).

The goal of the 3rd phase is to engage residents of the Rat Creek basin in a placemaking exercise and to connect their home, and the identity of the area to the ravine. By reminding residents that all of the water in their neighbours ultimately makes its way to the ravine we can link individual practices to the health of the present day Rat Creek. To further this goal, public signage and articles in neighbourhood newspapers could help spread the message and the storied uncovered via the research in phase 1.

Part 4: Work with the City of Edmonton to make outfall data in Rat Creek ravine open to the public. Work with residents and organisations such as the North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance, Epcor, Edmonton Permaculture, Cultivate McCauley, and Alberta Low Impact Development to create programs and initiatives that enable people to contribute to the health of their catchment basin and the ravine downstream of them.

Mapping Rat Creek Photo

Dancing in the Water

Shared by Sydney Lancaster 109 St NW, Edmonton, AB, Canada Dancing in the Water Photo

Many years ago, on Canada Day, the (now gone) High Level Bridge Waterfall was turned on for the very first time. It was a singular, spectacular moment in this city - such a beautiful way to connect the river to the bridge, and to the city in a really visceral way. I was on the bridge that day - getting drenched under the waterfall, singing and dancing with people. Yes, complete strangers gathered together and became friends, played like children, and forgot there differences for a while. I met three young women from Quebec under the water; they spoke no English and my French was rusty - but we managed to have a joyous time. We even sang the national anthem together, and shared some (illegal) champagne in honour of the Bridge that brought us together.

Dancing in the Water Photo

Where Bodies and Ideas Meet

Shared by Sydney Lancaster 10816 95 St, Edmonton, AB T5H 2E3, Canada Where Bodies and Ideas Meet Photo
Watch Video

Mile Zero Dance has been such a tremendous asset to this city since its inception. It has always been a place of risk-taking, experimentation, and innovation in dance and dance-related arts - but Mile Zero also has (and continues to) provide a place of welcome and community for dancers and non-dancers alike. This organization has shown leadership in community outreach, school programs, kid's programs, health-related movement workshops ... the list goes on. Spazio Performativo has created a home for artists of all disciplines to come together, work together, take chances together - and feel safe doing it. As a visual artist, Mile Zero has offered me the opportunity to take some tentative steps outside my regular practice: my participation in the SubArctic Improv series allowed me not only to create work with and for artists of other disciplines, but also to take some steps toward understanding how performance practice could contribute to my work going forward. The value of spaces such a Mile Zero, that offer places for experimentation cannot be underestimated! Risk-taking makes artists better at what they do, and builds community and new collaborations - and we need more opportunities and venues to do that - and we need to actively support Edmonton institutions like Mile Zero that gift our community with these resources and support.

Where Bodies and Ideas Meet Photo

From language learner to arts participant

Shared by K. Baron 9831 75 Street NW, Edmonton, AB T6A 2Y8, Canada From language learner to arts participant Photo

My family lost our ancestral language due to the assimilationist policies of the provincial government and the bigoted attitude of other Albertans in the mid-twentieth century. My father purposely forgot how to speak it, so I never learned as I child. As an adult I've been trying to recover this lost gateway to my culture. For this reason, my wife and I started taking курси (classes) at St. Andrew's, the last place left in the city that still offers adult evening classes in Ukrainian. My progress in the language wasn't great, but being part of that community led me to other discoveries in arts and culture. One of the instructors, Mr. Ludvik Marianych--one of Alberta's unsung cultural heroes--recruited my wife and I to be part of Чайка (Chaika) a youth orchestra that plays Ukrainian-language music. This was a big step because, although I could (barely) play the guitar I had never been part of a band (never mind an orchestra) and hadn't played in front of anyone in years. But Mr. Marianych made it seem totally possible that anyone could participate, even me: someone who could only bang out a few chords. The next thing I knew, not only was I the group's guitarist but I was volunteering to learn to play the mandolin as well, so we could add that instrument to the band. Mr. Marianych has the gift of making music accessible to everyone, and inspired me to believe I could do more.

From their I went on to singing with the Верховина (Verkhovyna) choir under the amazing Orest Soltykevych (of CKUA fame). I 'm not a natural singer--to put in mildly--but was again taken by the hand and told that anyone (even me) could sing. And not just sing, but sing both baritone and tenor, stay in tune with the choir, and do it all entirely in my third language, one that had only just started to learn (Ukrainian). Somehow I did it (or at least felt like I did).

The highlight of this cultural journey for me (so far) was appearing on the main stage during the "Svieto 25" celebration in Churchill Square in August of 2016, honouring the 25th anniversary of Ukrainian independence and 125 years of Ukrainian settlement in Canada. I was there twice: once to play with orchestra, and once to sing with the choir. It was something I wouldn't have thought possible just a few years earlier.

Since the birth of my second child, I've had step back from some of my commitments. But those years when I was actively participating in the arts were made much richer because of the involvement I did have: arts and culture made my life better. Soon, I hope, they will be doing the same for my children.

It matters that I learned that I could participate in the arts and culture through an ethnic community. That is not an accident. In our ethnic communities we find examples of true participatory culture: it's not about listening to or watching professionals. It's about having pride or curiosity enough that you to want to live out the community's traditions, whether they are part of your birthright or something you are learning along the way.

My vision for the arts in culture in Edmonton is that others will have a similar journey to my own: using one part of culture as ladder to reach for the next one, and being welcomed and included along the way. And I hope that the city as a whole can recognize the value of ethnic communities in that process. Having a thriving arts and culture scene should really mean that we have a cultural ecosystem that include niches for the ethnic arts.

And yes, I'm still working on that language! Language is the conduit through which the rest of culture flows. Any arts, culture, and heritage vision MUST include a language component or it is fundamentally incomplete.

From language learner to arts participant Photo


Shared by Ahmed 'Knowmadic' Ali 9228 128a Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T5E 0J8, Canada Relating Photo

I remember attending Mee-Yah-Noh School during read in week and being amazed at how engaged the students were. We related through videos games and anime. When I told them the ones I liked, I saw their eyes light up. I spoke about my favorite scenes and like lightning, their hands shot up in excitement to give theirs. Before leaving, I encouraged them to read often, because reading is what allows the mind to create magic.

Relating Photo

Building Connections (an example)

Shared by Sydney Lancaster 10440 108 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T5H 3Z9, Canada Building Connections (an example) Photo
Watch Video

One of the things that has always struck me about the arts community here in #YEG is the desire amongst its various practitioners to embrace risk and try new things. Part of that stems from necessity (we are small but mighty), but also from the generous and DIY spirit that so many of us embrace. One of the things that could make our collective ambitions manifest into real sustainability (and real income) for creators here is a single place for people to FIND US - and for all of us to FIND OPPORTUNITIES - for work, for collaborations, for all sorts of resources. A program & website like ART$PAY could do just that - and raise the profile of all creators in the City, while providing a simple way for people to hire, commission, and pay (properly) for all kinds of art. We need a made-in-YEG version of this!

Building Connections (an example) Photo

Louise, Then & Now

Shared by Sydney Lancaster 8900 114 St NW, Edmonton, AB T6G 2J7, Canada Louise, Then & Now Photo

I remember seeing Louise Lecavalier dance with La La La Human Steps at the SUB Theatre in the mid-80's. It was a life changing experience - to see such a strong woman dancing as if her life depended on it, launching herself across the stage with such conviction and control. I fell in love with contemporary dance in a whole new way in that moment, and Louise Lecavalier & La La La Human Steps defined what I felt dance could and should be. Seeing her dance again, just a couple of years ago at the Timms Centre (she was brought in by Brian Webb Dance), was nothing short of magic. She was still just a beautiful & powerful, but with all the wisdom of her years in the dance as well. It was so beautiful, and brought me to tears for almost the entire performance, it was so moving.

Louise, Then & Now Photo

Nuit Blanche

Shared by Susan Burns Sir Winston Churchill Square, Edmonton, AB T5J 2E5, Canada Nuit Blanche Photo

This magical night in downtown in late September 2015 brought thousands of citizens together to celebrate the power of art to build community and to have fun in the dark and the cold. Let’s keep it going!

Nuit Blanche Photo

Edmonton's Wild Gojiberries

Shared by Dustin Bajer Edmonton's Wild Gojiberries Photo

As a young city, newcomers brought many of their personal, cultural practices to Edmonton. Over decades, this unique mixture of cultures has added to the vibrancy of our City.

When the Chinese community first settled in Edmonton many of them took up farming. According to the author Kathryn Chase-Merrit, in her book "Why Grow Here" the Chinese community owned and operated as many as fifteen market gardens around the City - many located in Edmonton's river valley. Among the plants that they would have grown were goji berries - a brambly shrub in the tomato family that produces oval orange-red berries and edible leaves popular in soups and prized for their medicinal qualities.

While the market gardens are long gone - some pushed out due to controversial city policy - at least one by the flood of 1915 - many large goji berries remain. The decedents of plants imported by the Chinese community they have long made the North bank of the river valley their home; longtime residents of Edmonton's downtown.

It could be noted that goji berries have become popular at local nurseries over the last decade. However, most people don't realise that a hardy, Edmonton lineage of this plant has naturalised and perfectly adapted itself to call this city home.

Edmonton's Wild Gojiberries Photo

Connecting to Black History in Edmonton

Shared by Elsa Robinson Queen Elizabeth Park Road Connecting to Black History in Edmonton Photo

I used to take my children swimming at the Queen Elizabeth Pool. In the summer of 1988, I noticed this big chalk board near the change rooms. I went over to have a closer look. The information on the board was regarding the history of mixed race bathing in Edmonton. That is when I found out that Queen Elizabeth Pool was the first location where Black Edmontonians were allowed to swim in a public place managed by the City of Edmonton.

So, I explained the information to my four and five year old children - they both remember hearing this story. At the time I told my children that this obviously why we had come to this pool, because it was the first place that people like us could swim in public. When the City closed the pool, some years later, I joined the community group that lobbied the City of Edmonton to rebuild the pool. The group was also involved in designing the new pool and deciding on the new location for Queen Elizabeth Pool.

Connecting to Black History in Edmonton Photo

Lucky Chinese Guardian Lions

Shared by GL 102 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T5J 0L6, Canada Lucky Chinese Guardian Lions Photo

When my relatives visited us, my parents would bring us to the Harbin Gate to take pictures. As a kid, I remember climbing to reach and rub the ball in the guardian lion's mouth for good luck. I didn't realize how special and important the Chinatown Gate was until it was taken away.

Lucky Chinese Guardian Lions Photo

A Bonfire

Shared by Hunter Alfred H. Savage Centre, Fox Drive Northwest, Edmonton, AB A Bonfire Photo

This is where I have been told my ancestors used the ochre deposits for their ceremonies. So coming here in the evenings, starting a fire in the fire pit, and looking up at the same night sky with the same stars that my ancestors would have seen makes me feel profoundly connected to this city that I love.

A Bonfire Photo

Royal Alberta Museum

Shared by K. Hamilton 9810 103a Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T5J 0G2, Canada Royal Alberta Museum Photo

My first introduction to non-domesticated animals was at the Royal Alberta Museum. Through the glass enclosures, I was given a glimpse into life as a mountain goat, a Snowshoe Hare and many other animals. One of my very favourite exhibits to this day was looking at the female coyote with her pups. I would stay and watch them, letting them come alive in my mind, until being dragged away by a parent or teacher. The dioramas inspired in me a sense of adventure and a lasting love of nature and animals. In recent years, I have taken my two children to these exhibits and I loved watching their little faces light up with amazement. We are so fortunate to have cultural institutions like this in Edmonton. I can't wait to begin taking my children to the new Royal Alberta Museum. This is a special city that cares deeply for its arts, culture and heritage, and I am grateful for that.

Royal Alberta Museum Photo
2029 Arts and Heritage logo

To receive updates on important YEG Culture Map developments, and more opportunities to be involved, please enter your email address and name (optional) below.

Please note: You may opt out of this email program at any time.