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Alberta Book Day, May 15, 2018

Book publishers from all over Alberta came together in the Federal Building on the ides of May to celebrate and promote our industry to Members of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta and legislature staff. The Minister of Culture and Tourism, Ricardo Miranda, joined us to make proclaim May 15 Alberta Book Day.

Our newest Intern, Sarah Milmine, enjoyed participating: 

I was very excited to help out at Alberta Book Day. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was impressed with the variety of people who stopped by our table and asked questions about what we publish. Some people had very specific interests and zeroed in on the one or two publications we had that matched what they were looking for. Others had a wide variety of interests, still others were happy browsing, choosing books at random and flipping them over to read the back cover.

After spending most of the day displaying books and chatting with those who stopped by, a few representatives from the publishing community were introduced in the Legislature.

Cathie Crooks, Associate Director / Manager Planning & Operations says:

The first ever Alberta Book Day was a tremendous success, initiating conversations about books and the kinds of materials our industry produces. My most treasured moment, however, came as we were in the gallery waiting for Minister Miranda to introduce Alberta publishers to his legislative colleagues.

On the seats across the chamber sat Darlene Dunlop, one of our authors, and Eric Musekamp. These remarkable people have advocated for many years for legislation to support farm worker safety in the province. I couldn’t believe the coincidence. When I spoke to them afterwards, they were absolutely pumped. Earlier in the afternoon, they had been able to speak to both Premier Rachel Notley and Governor General Julie Payette about this critical issue and even put a copy of Farm Workers in Western Canada directly into the hands of the Governor General.

Darlene spoke of the importance of having a book outlining all of the issues, both business and personal, that underlie a complex issue. She noted our key role in bringing worker safety to a broader audience. Knowing how they have dedicated their lives to making workplaces safer, I felt very humble to have our role acknowledged in this generous way.

Most days, our small teams sit in offices and work away on computers. Through initiatives such as Alberta Book Day, it is good to be reminded of our large impact.

The Book Publishers Association of Alberta worked hard to organize this event, and we all hope that it’ll be a yearly opportunity to celebrate the importance of publishers, authors, and readers.

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Literary Cocktails 2018

April 26 was a great day as Spring finally arrived and we saw readers of poetry and short fiction filling the Winspear Room of the Faculty Club. The University of Alberta Press’s 14th Literary Cocktails saw more than 100 people in attendance—with standing room only at one point—to the delight of our readers, staff, MC, and the new Director and Publisher of UAP, Douglas Hildebrand.

Daniel Laforest was a charming and funny host, and the readings from the writers of our five newest creative works went wonderfully:

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A big thank you goes out to all who organized, participated, and helped in any way to make this event such a great success: readers, MC, Faculty Club, Audreys, Poetry Festival, and audience members.

It was an event that provided a well-needed break in my busy life. I hope you felt the same!

Nicholas Bradley at the Battle of the Bards in Toronto

Nicholas Bradley [Rain Shadow] was invited to participate in IFOA’s 10th Annual Battle of the Bards in Toronto. Here is his account of this quick yet rewarding trip:

Hi, Monika,

After the long Easter weekend and the rush of the new week, my trip to Toronto at the end of March already seems like ancient history, but I have fond (if slightly jet-lagged) memories of the reading. The 10th Annual Battle of the Bards was held at Harbourfront Centre on a surprisingly warm and clear night. Each of the nineteen poets read for five minutes. And having been duly warned by the organizers not to run long, nearly everyone kept to the allotted time … As you can imagine, with that many writers involved, the poems ranged widely in style and subject. The readers were all impressive, and one of the best things about the evening was the impression it gave of the liveliness and diversity in Canadian poetry right now. To my ear, no two poets sounded much alike.

At dinner before the reading, I met Aaron Tucker, a poet from Toronto who, it turns out, used to live in rural B.C. I was delighted when the conversation turned to pine beetles—and I didn’t even have to bring them up!

We appeared in alphabetical order—from Stéphane Bouquet to Catriona Wright—which meant that I read second. I chose three poems from Rain Shadow—“The Beasts,” “In Praise of the Mountain Pine Beetle,” and “Cycling”—which I thought gave a good sense of what the book is about.

The day after the reading, the judges declared Paul Vermeersch the winner. Paul was entirely deserving, but all of the authors read fine, inspired (and inspiring) poems. I’m grateful to IFOA for hosting us so warmly and generously. It was a privilege to read in front of such a large and enthusiastic audience.

The rest of my time in Toronto was spent in the archives at U of T, where I perused the old letters of a few Canadian authors (who shall remain nameless). The things poets say about each other! But that’s a story for another time …

I’ll see you in Edmonton in a few weeks for Literary Cocktails.


Alice Major Launches “Welcome to the Anthropocene”

On March 1st we launched Welcome to the Anthropocene at the University of Alberta Conservatory with great success. More than 70 eager readers gathered to celebrate Alice Major’s 11th poetry collection; they were welcomed by Sharon Morsink, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Science – Physics. Peter Midgley, Senior Editor at UAP said a few words about Alice in introduction.

Duane Froese, Professor and Canada Research Chair in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Science, provided a little background on the Anthropocene – what is it? How do we know we’re in it? We learned that most of the audience will have been born before the start of the Anthropocene, which may well be determined to be 1964 — when there was significant above-ground nuclear testing, with concomitant results in the Earth’s crust.

Alice’s reading was most enjoyable: she was informative, serious, and sometimes also made us laugh. After the science and poetry, there was an opportunity to step outside and take a look at the stars. Unfortunately, the moon was hiding.

A reception, book sales, and author signings followed.

There were some great media sidenotes to the launch… The event made it onto the Edmonton Journal‘s Top Ten Things to Do, Codie McLachlan took great photos to post to the Social Seen column, and Global TV sent a camera to take some footage. Finally, Welcome to the Anthropocene hit number 1 on Edmonton’s Bestsellers list on March 11 — a rare position for a book of poetry, but well deserved!

Congratulations to Alice and a large thank you to all the organizers and attendees. A special thanks goes to Audreys Books, Edmonton’s Independent Bookseller.

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Launching “Metis Pioneers” at Lougheed House, Calgary

Lougheed House offered the perfect venue to launch Doris MacKinnon‘s newest book, Metis Pioneers as it was the home of one of the two women whose lives are described in the book: Isabella Clark Hardisty Lougheed.

Both Isabella and the second woman in the study, Marie Rose Delorme Smith, were born in 1861. They experienced the difficult transition out of the fur trade economy in very different ways.

Starting the evening in fine style, Joe Lougheed (great grandson of Lady Isabella) gave a warm welcome to a large audience.

Special guests included Audrey Poitras (Madame President of Metis Nation of Alberta), Marlene Lanz (President, Metis Region 3), Lawrence Gervais (Vice President, Metis Region 3), and Edme Comstock (Metis elder and direct descendant of John Bruce, who was president of the provisional government of the Red River settlement).

Among the highlights of the evening was the attendance of Isabella Lougheed’s great-great niece, Michelle Lennox Hardisty, along with several other members of the Lougheed family.

Kirstin Evenden had a number of excellent questions for Doris. It was fascinating to hear differences and similarities in the two women’s life experiences. While Isabella came from the English-speaking Hudson Bay tradition and Marie Rose came from the French-speaking free trader tradition, both learned from their Metis mothers how to live from the land and both attended schools far from the land where they grew up.

It was absorbing to hear of the challenges around researching these two lives. Marie Rose left personal writings (fortunately saved for posterity) while the status of Isabella’s family led to public records of their activities. Doris did a remarkable job of delving into their lives and was also fortunate enough to gather family stories and recollections from descendants. Doris described how both women had extensive kinship networks and were matriarchs in their communities, and how both faced immense challenges during their lifetimes.

More reminiscences were shared, audience members asked many additional questions, and then the evening concluded with a tour of the home, which is now a National and Provincial Historic Site and museum.

An interview with Doris ran on Wednesday, February 21 at 5:50 PM, the day before the launch.

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International Mountain Day 2017

Dr. Colleen Skidmore—author of Searching for Mary Schäffer: Women Wilderness Photography—gave a talk about the subject of her new book at the University of Alberta’s Mountain Festival on December 7, 2017. The event was hosted by Dr. PearlAnn Reichwein, author of the award-winning Climber’s Paradise.​
Mary Schäffer was a photographer, writer, botanical painter, and mapmaker from Philadelphia, renowned for her travels in the Canadian Rockies at the turn of the 20th century. Schäffer’s own themes—women and wilderness, travel and science—shape this critical exploration of her work amid Philadelphia’s science and photography communities, and the scientific, tourist, and Indigenous societies of the Rocky Mountains of Canada.
Professor Colleen Skidmore is a photo historian at University of Alberta, whose work has been featured at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies​ in Banff​. Her previous ​work​,​ ​This Wild Spirit: Women in the Rocky Mountains of Canada​, ​was ​exhibit​ed​ in ​at galleries in ​Edmonton in concert with the publication of the book in 2006​, and again in Edmonton and Jasper in 2016​. ​T​he exhibit was ​then ​mounted in ​Banff in the summer of 2017, as part of Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations. It will be shown again ​this winter at the Jasper-Yellowhead Museum and Archives, alongside another​ ​show about Mary Schäffer​’s photography​.

Farm Workers’ Day and Book Launch in Calgary

Co-Editor Shirley A. McDonald and contributor Jennifer Koshan, along with MLA Dr. David Swann, organized an event to honour the many faceless/invisible/unrecognized workers whose labour puts food on our tables. A celebration of Farm Workers’ Day and the launching of Farm Workers in Western Canada: Injustices and Activism in Calgary on August 21 exceeded their expectations.

Even before the scheduled start time, guests arrived and formed conversation groups for high level discussion of the issues. Several MLAs and a representative from the Premier’s office were present. There were representatives from the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB). There were journalists, including Naomi Lakritz who wrote an informative article on the knowledge she gained from listening to the speakers. A reporter from CBC interviewed guests and filmed the event.

MLA Michael Connolly spoke about the challenges of getting Bill 6 through the legislative process. He remarked that at one point, with loud voices speaking against Bill 6, he wondered if he were doing the right thing in pushing the bill. Then, he looked up into the gallery and saw activists Eric Musekamp and Darlene Dunlop sitting in anticipation of the passing of Bill 6 and knew he was doing the right—and honourable—thing.

New Liberal leader David Khan spoke and assured that he would continue to put the full support of the Liberal party behind Bills 6 and 17 and ensure that Alberta farm workers would continue to benefit from the protections of WCB and OHS. Doug Taylor spoke passionately about his experiences as an advocate for farm safety. His stories are embedded in Naomi Lakritz’s article, where you can read about pigs that got better treatment than workers.

Darlene Dunlop and Eric Musekamp spoke. As always, they were articulate and moving. Anelyse Weiler reported on a recent incident at a farm where a temporary foreign worker died from smoke from the fires in the region (border of Washington).

Shirley McDonald and Jennifer Koshan have already arranged to hold Farm Workers’ Day next year, once again in the Faculty of Law lounge at the University of Calgary. The event will continue to promote this important volume and promote further high level discussions of the issues.

Be sure to read the Vancouver Sun review of Farm Workers in Western Canada and this article in the Work of Arts blog (University of Alberta). The University of Alberta Press has also created a book trailer featuring the struggles of farm workers and the book. There were two other book launches in Edmonton and Kelowna.


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“Remembering Air India” launches in Toronto and Hamilton

Editors Chandrima Chakraborty, Amber Dean and Angela Failler launched their new collection, Remembering Air India: The Art of Public Mourning in Toronto on September 14th and in Hamilton on September 15th, 2017.

Anjula Gogia of Another Story Bookshop of Toronto introduced the presenters: contributors Elan Marchinko (York University) and Renee Sarojini Saklikar (Surrey Poet Laureate). There were also video clips from Lata Pada’s dance performance “Revealed By Fire,” a stunning image of which is featured on the book’s cover. The Hamilton event, introduced by Kerry Cranston-Reimer of Bryan Prince Bookseller also included these same contributors to the book, with an introduction by Rob Alexander, who lost his father in the bombing of Air India Flight 182, and Khursheed Ahmed, of the South Asian Heritage Association of Hamilton and Region.

The Editors introduced the book and the speakers, and were delighted by the huge show of interest in the book. They were also deeply honoured to have a number of family members and friends who lost loved ones aboard Flight 182 in attendance. “As editors of Remembering Air India we would like to begin by acknowledging those who lost their lives to the Air India bombings of 1985, and the family members, friends and loved ones who continue to mourn their loss,” Chandrima Chakraborty said in her opening remarks. “This book is a collaborative attempt to share in that mourning, by remembering this little-known or hazily remembered event in Canadian public memory.”

Both of these launches also aimed to give audiences a sampling of the book’s unique combination of creative and critical/scholarly work. ”Remembering Air India is somewhat unique, as scholarly books go,” co-editor Amber Dean explained in her opening remarks, “because it includes reprints of the creative works that the scholars in the book write about.” The book features fiction by Padma Viswanathan and Bharati Mukherjee, poetry by Uma Parameswaran and Renee Saklikar, paintings by Deon Venter, and photographs and artist’s statements from a film by Eisha Marjara and a dance performance by Lata Pada, alongside a critical introduction and essays by Angela Failler, Amber Dean, Maya Seshia, Cassel Busse, Elan Marchinko and Chandrima Chakraborty. The book also reprints the text of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s 2010 apology to the Air India families and Dr. Sherene Razack’s expert testimony given at the Air India Public Inquiry, and includes short, candid commentaries by Rita Dhamoon, Sherene Razack, Karen Sharma, Teresa Hubel, and Suvir Kaul.

The co-editors gratefully acknowledge the support and sponsorship of the Women’s and Gender Studies Institute (University of Toronto), the Department of English and Cultural Studies and the Graduate Program in Gender Studies and Feminist Research (McMaster University), Another Story Bookshop (Toronto) and Bryan Prince Bookseller (Hamilton), the South Asian Heritage Association of Hamilton and Region, along with the University of Alberta Press and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Darryl Raymaker Launches Trudeau’s Tango in Calgary

June 14, 2017 was an auspicious day for Darryl Raymaker’s launch of Trudeau’s Tango: Alberta Meets Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 1968–1972. The sun shone as some 200 guests shared a celebratory evening at The Ranchmen’s Club.

The room was full and Darryl was in fine form, with daughter Nicole and son Derek there to help mark his achievement. Son Patrick prepared a terrific slideshow for the event, which was appreciated by the crowd.

We were all thinking of Darryl’s wife, Pat, who passed away this spring. Darryl dedicated the book to her: “To the memory of my wife Pat (1944–2017), for her unswerving loyalty, support, and wise counsel through our arduous but happy and fascinating fifty years of adventures as Alberta Liberals.”

The staff of the University of Alberta Press wishes to express their appreciation for everyone’s support of the event and of the book.

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Congress 2017

Ryerson University hosted this year’s Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities. Registration and Expo was in the historic Maple Leaf Gardens in what seemed like the busiest part of Toronto. This year’s record-breaking attendance was more than 10,000!

The University of Alberta Press worked with Athabasca University Press and the University of Calgary Press again this year to provide a combined display of books under the banner of the University Presses of Alberta. Thank you for another week of great partnership.

Our theme this year was “Our Future Library”, and our quest for the best books of the next 150 years produced titles such as Non/Sense: Decoding Fake NewsThe Death of the Title and This Bloody Hectare. 

Our Director, Linda Cameron, is retiring at the end of August and as a going away present, we created a book that has all the book covers she worked on during her 16 years at UAP. We took the book with us so that colleagues all over the country could convey their good wishes to Linda, who has been has been an active and effective member of the publishing community for decades. Thank you all who stopped by to sign this wonderful memento.

After an exhilarating and exhausting week in Toronto, we are looking forward to Congress 2018 in Regina.