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Edmonton’s Rubaboo Arts Festival, January 30 to February 4, 2017

Rubaboo is a Métis-Michif word meaning a stew or soup trappers used to make on the trap line. It is also Edmonton’s fabulous Aboriginal arts festival, which is about feeding the spirit. Curated by Alberta Aboriginal Performing Arts, the 8th Rubaboo Festival has several remarkable offerings.

9781772122978Wednesday, February 1 at 6 pm at La Cité Francophone. Norma Dunning and Peter Midgley are hosting an Editing Workshop, “Mitsi: The Words, and Things Relative to Them”. They will share their experience working together as writer and editor on Norma’s first collection of short stories: Annie Muktuk and Other Storiespublished this fall by the University of Alberta Press. Using practical examples from Norma’s manuscript and other editing moments, they illustrate some of the questions and concerns that arise when editing Indigenous writing—what happens to a story and how is it shaped during collaboration between non-Indigenous editor and Indigenous author.

Their workshop will be followed by Anna Marie Sewell‘s Wide Awake for 30 Years and Josh Languedoc‘s Starlight Tours at 8 pm.

Monday, January 30 and Tuesday, January 31: Santee Smith of Kaha:wi Dance Theatre will perform NeoIndigenA, an elemental and ritual journey that fiercely cycles through sacred portals between Skyworld, Earthworld and Underworld. Performances will be held at 8 pm.

Thursday, February 2 is Fusion Night, a free event offered in partnership with Flying Canoe Festival, starting at 7 pm.

Friday, February 3 is a Visual Arts Talk with David Garneau at 6 pm and Red Leather Yellow Leather Folk Lordz at 8 pm.

On Saturday, February 4, Elder Jerry Saddleback gives a Bow Making Workshop at 11 am. Closing night, starting at 7 pm, features Kendra Shorter and Skye Demas.

All of the events are held at La Cité Francophone at 8527 rue Marie-Anne-Gaboury (91st Street), Edmonton.

Alberta Aboriginal Performing Arts is a professional Aboriginal theatre and performing arts organization based in Edmonton, Alberta. It was co-founded in 2009 by Ryan Cunningham and Christine Sokaymoh Frederick, both Aboriginal (Métis) from Edmonton.


“Why Grow Here” Fan Letter

Hi Kathryn,

We met so briefly at the Barbours’ 50th commemoration, which was a shame as I had lots of questions to ask about Edmonton’s gardening history. Well, now having read the book, you have certainly answered the big question [Why grow here?] and settled numerous other issues. I wanted to write you a fan letter, to say what a engrossing read it was, and what a big contribution to Alberta’s cultural history it is. More than that, too, it deserves to be read widely in Canada, not because it is about other parts of the country but for what a terrific model it would be for future cultural history elsewhere.

GreaterToronto, if I may mention my home city, has had a large number of public and private “show” gardens as well as more modest ones and a vast expanse of market gardens and orchards since the early 1800s. As an example, Etobicoke was mostly farm land with a few villages dotted here and there, until 1945. The market gardens were owned and run by Chinese and Ukrainians, the orchards (especially for apples) by old-time Ontarians. When we were first married, 1973, there was still a 20-acre market garden at the corner of Islington and Eglinton Avenues—now a major intersection—growing vegetables. With the wind in the right direction, you could smell the crops when ripe. All gone now.

So with all that background it is sad to say there is nothing like your wonderful study for Toronto, nothing even remotely like it. If one were interested, it would be necessary to construct the history (as you have done), from a vast array of sources. Some of these sources are pretty slim. Toronto has a botanic garden in a fine Victorian glasshouse in Allan Gardens, for example; there is a three page article on its history and that is all. The area around it is now called the “Garden District” but that is just real estate fakery, because there is no history of the area from the “garden” point of view, so no one knows why it is called that.

All the essays were resonant to me, someone who is not by nature a gardener. I especially liked the chapter about Rose City. My uncle was a rose grower and breeder at Mills Roses in Bedford Park (now a north Toronto neighbourhood but then a village named after the famous garden suburb near London) just north of Toronto in the teens and ’20s of the last century. They moved to “faraway” Richmond Hill in the ’30s and continued until the 1970s. Both of those extensive properties and their miles of glasshouses are all gone, buried under expensive houses.

If I may say so, the most memorable part of your study is the essay on Edmonton’s Chinese market gardeners, which gives character to those whom history usually renders anonymous. In my youth in Toronto, the local greengrocer’s was called “the Chinaman’s” (everyone ignored the name on the shopfront: “Wong’s”). This was despite the fact that the son of “the Chinaman” was my classmate, Kennedy Ho. So your history of Bark Ging Wong’s family and enterprise was especially moving in delineating the struggles and triumphs of what must have been a terribly hard life.

What else to say? It’s a beautiful (great book design too!) and important work. So many great things in it—I hope you sell a lot of copies.

Reg Berry

June 24, 2016

Musings from Tanya, UAP Intern – #4

University of Alberta Press Celebrates Open Access!

Our Fall 2016 catalogue announced the completion of a major project at the University of Alberta Press. Since acquiring CCI Press in 2014, we’ve been busy digitizing CCI’s backlist. The digitization project resulted in the release of over 70 Open Access titles, which are available to download from our website.


In the spirit of Open Access, I thought it would be fitting to include a discussion of why it’s important to consider Open Access in publishing. But first, what is Open Access? It typically refers to scholarly research that is available for free online without too many restrictions on use (like with licensing or copyright).

Some of the benefits of Open Access are:

  • It makes research more accessible
    • Libraries have to pay large subscription fees in order to gain access to specific databases. Depending on the library, they may not have the funding to gain access more recent journals.
  • It enhances the research community
    • Making research available helps other scholars to build upon previous work.
  • It prevents duplication
    • By granting everyone access to the research, it is less likely that the research will be duplicated, opening the door to other possibilities.
  • It allows scholars to maximize their research impact
    • Research impact is becoming increasingly important in the scholarly world. Oftentimes, they must justify their research. One way of doing is by measuring the amount of times they are cited in other work. By using Open Access, research is more available, which means that the chances of being cited are far greater than if users needed to pay to retrieve the research.

With regard to the CCI titles, making them Open Access breathes new life into old research. It is our hope that everyone will take advantage of these Open Access titles. Enjoy!

Roger Epp in St. Petersburg, Russia

By Machno’s Wagon: A Meditation on Public Museums by Roger Epp

St. Petersburg is a city founded on Russian imperial ambition and filled with the museums to prove it: the Hermitage, with its throne rooms and art treasures; Peterhof, the summer palace on the Baltic, with its fountains and gardens; St. Isaac’s Cathedral, with its malachite columns and pure-gold dome. Built for tsars with all the money and labour that could be squeezed out of a peasant society, they were each meant to make an architectural impression of unchallengeable, magisterial authority.

When guides present them now, they do so with a hint of nostalgia. This is, after all, the time for making countries great again.

There have always been reasons to go to St. Petersburg. In September 1798 my direct ancestor David Epp was one of two delegates sent to the capital by the first German-speaking Mennonite colonists who had moved, by invitation, to conquered lands in the “new Russia.” His purpose was to negotiate the terms for further settlement in the south. I do not know where he lived or how he, a modest man, responded to the opulence around him. For two years he negotiated with imperial authorities – and got an audience with Paul I – before returning to his community on the Dnieper River with a much-cherished Charter and an unshakeable faith, passed down through generations, in the protective power of tsars.

My own reason for being in St. Petersburg in September 2016 was more mundane: an academic conference, whose organizers had built the city’s best-known attractions into the program. On my last day, on my own, I crossed the Neva in search of the State Museum of Russian Political History, which warranted only a single line in the guidebook.

Public history in public museums is always fraught, as visitors to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, say, can attest. There is nothing simple about Russian history in particular, certainly not now. But here was a small museum whose main exhibit threaded its way bravely between what it called the “utopia and reality” of the Soviet era, including collectivization, hunger, mass executions and the gulags. While the Russian text was not always translated into English, the meaning of objects – family photographs, letters home, a pair of thin winter boots – was unmistakable and powerful.

The real emotional sucker-punch, however, was waiting in a corner of the lobby: a tachanka, a wagon with heavy springs and a machine-gun mount that was captured from forces commanded by Nestor Machno, the anarchist scourge of the Mennonite villages in the south during the civil war. Machno is a complex figure, the subject of conflicting historical assessments. The panel’s description was matter-of-fact. But the name was enough to evoke all of the stories still told in the families of those, like my wife’s, who came to Canada as refugees in the 1920s: summary executions, rapes, terror-filled nights spent hiding in the fields. And so by Machno’s wagon, to paraphrase a book title, I sat down and wept.

Of course, I think, as I descend deep into the Metro to return across the river, surprised at myself, I am not the first person to experience so viscerally how the artifacts and trophies of nation-building can also be the artifacts of displacement and suffering. All those who remember in their bones what it means to have lived at the periphery of the nation-building project – or simply in its way – will have learned to approach public museums warily, expecting a narrative other than their own; and, even so, they can be caught completely off-guard by an object or photograph that brings a painful history home.

My point is not to argue for trigger warnings (as if it could be possible to anticipate where to put all of them) or anodyne exhibits (as if risk-free and truthful can be remotely the same). On the contrary, it is to affirm museums, the right kind, not showcases for wealth and power, but places that make possible the kind of honest, unexpected encounter I had in St. Petersburg – for which I remain thankful.