Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Call to Artists!

Attention Artists, Photographers, and Writers!

Waypoints, (formerly Family Crisis Society) is looking for submissions for the month of October and November of your artwork, photos, poems, songs, or any other artistic medium around the theme of a healthy Wood Buffalo Region and healthy families!

November is Family Violence Prevention Month in Alberta and Waypoints would like community members to declare what healthy families look like when they are free from family violence!
What makes a healthy family? What does a healthy family look like? What words and images come to mind when our community is free from family violence, when we are all able to live freely and openly with our loved ones? We encourage all age groups to submit whatever art form speaks to them! We will be displaying the art work on our social media sites for the month of November and we encourage all individuals to comment, like and share these images to show off what a healthy Wood Buffalo Region means to its’ community members!

Please contact Courtney Callahan at with any questions and with your finished projects by November 16th, 2015.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Theatre Just Because at Alberta Culture Days

The One Act Play Night, a part of Alberta Culture Days, shows tonight at the Suncor Energy Centre for the Performing Arts, 7pm-9:30pm, admission is FREE. Hosted by, Theatre Just Because a homegrown, emerging, independent, theatre company the evening will feature two short yet powerful plays performed by local theatre artists, Mountain Top and The Most Massive Woman. Both plays were presented at a sold-out performance at the Alberta Drama Festival Association (ADFA) Regional One Act Play Festival last spring at the Keyano Theatre and Arts Centre.

Mountain Top, written and performed by Pattie Dwyer, is a captivating one-woman show about friendship, racial divides and fear. It was selected for the ADFA Provincial One Act Play Festival in Red Deer and received awards for Best Actress and Best New Work. 

The Most Massive Woman Wins by Madeleine George and directed by Michelle Thorne is about four women sitting in the waiting room of a liposuction clinic. Their brave stories as they deal with body image issues are told through a surreal sequence of monologues, flashbacks, nursery rhymes and dance. At the ADFA Regional Festival, the play won awards for Best Ensemble Cast, Best Directing, and Technical Achievement.

Recently Community Strategies Coordinator, Michael Beamish, interviewed the founders of Theatre Just Because, Michelle Thorne and Danna-Rae Evasiuk to talk about their new company, their friendship, and of course theatre.  

Michael Beamish (MB): How did you two first meet?

Danna-Rae Evasiuk (DRE): I knew Michelle when we were both at Westwood Community High School.

Michelle Thorne (MT): Danna Rae was a couple grades younger than me and did backstage work in school productions that I was acting in.

DRE: We were both in the drama crowd.

MT: Fast forward over a decade later and we happen to meet again at the ADFA Regional Festival at Keyano Theatre a few years ago.

DRE: I was playing an Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes song in the tech booth at the end of the night and she hollered, “Danna-Rae, is that you?” We’ve been collaborating on projects ever since.

MB: How would you describe your relationship?

DRE: We’re friends, we’re co-workers, we’re family. We come from the same spot, share the same dreams and artistic vision.

MT: We are family absolutely. Her mom is my mom. Her dad is my dad. Her sister is my sister. But we also have a really strong artistic partnership; we share a common love for our community, for alternative, black box theatre, and really understand each others artistic visions. We have completely different skills set and really honed in on how to use that to our advantage through the past few years of collaborations.

MB: How do you stay friends and work together?

DRE: I don’t feel like there’s much of a separation.

MT: It's all the same thing, really.

DRE: We’re friends who work together, co-workers who are friends. We respect each other as people and as professionals.  Both roles are incredibly interwoven and it works in incredible ways.

MT: We've spent countless hours driving all over the Province for theatre festivals these past few years, after our first 20 hour round trip and we still wanted to hang out and talk about projects the next day; thats special! There are many parallels between our friendship and the work that we do and really the work comes from passion projects. It's not work, it never feels like actual "work". It’s what we love to do and now we get an opportunity to share it with our community on such a broader scale.

MB: What was your best theatre road trip?

MT: The trip to High River Alberta for the ADFA Festival.

DRE: I wish you could have seen it. It was a convoy of vans making a B-line straight through Alberta. We had the time of our life.

MT: The community was so warm and welcoming and the group of artists we travelled with were incredible.

DRE: We got to know and enjoy the community, and see some of the most amazing theatre being produced in Alberta.

MT: We saw some incredible pieces and met artists that we still stay in close touch with to this day. We were fortunate enough to be able to stay at Danna Rae's Aunt’s house which was a 5 minute walk away from the theatre. She had a cat named Oreo and a gorgeous backyard.

DR: There was this train car that was converted into a diner – we ate there too often for the length of time we were there, but the food was great and the ambiance was delicious. We were delayed the day we left because there was this massive parade happening outside the front door and blocking the driveway. A few weeks after we left the flood hit. At the interPLAY festival of that year we remounted the play that we took to that community  – Barefoot in Nightgown by Candlelight. All proceeds from those performances were donated to the Windmill Players, High River’s Community Theatre Company, to help replace what they lost. That ability of ours to give back to a community that left such an impression on us is what makes this the best road trip to me.

MB: How did you guys first get involved with theatre?

MT: When I was 4 years old I played Chicken Little in my Jr. Kindergarten production of "Chicken Little"; I've been hooked ever since. 
                                                              DRE: I can’t even remember. Theatre has always been a part of my life – from being a two year old ballerina, to elementary school musicals, to running the lights for my high school’s musicals. It’s a joy and passion that I went to college for it and now it’s my profession.

MB:     How many shows have you done together?

DRE: I’ve lost track. We’re at probably more than a dozen.

MT: A Midsummer Night's Dream-

DRE: Maggie's Getting Married-

MT: Barefoot in Nightgown by Candlelight, Louis & Dave,

DRE: Five Ways To Break A Woman's HeartThe Vagina Monologues,  AND-

MT & DRE: The Most Massive Woman Wins.

MB: What show or shows have you done together that stand out to you?

MT: Probably ones we haven't done yet. We're always thinking about the future. What can we do next? We have lists.

DRE: The one that stands out to me the most is the production we’re currently working on – The Most Massive Woman Wins. It’s unique in the way that we get to revisit it. We first mounted this production this last spring and so many things can change between the spring and fall. To see the characters grow has been a complete inspiration. As a designer, the growth of the direction and acting has moved me to give my own work with lights and music room to breathe and change and become something different.

MB:   What made you want to start a theatre company together?

DRE: Michelle and I collaborated on so many projects for years before we even talked about starting a theatre company. But once we started talking about we wanted to see happen in our community, and what we envisioned ourselves doing, the ball didn’t stop moving. When we started talking about it in detail, we were driving to Edmonton. The drive seemed like it lasted half a hour. We were on the same page with every dream, every idea. There is no moss on our rolling stone.

MT: We wanted a platform to do the kind of work that we love to do. There comes a time in everyone’s life where they can either lay back and accept the regret of not chasing their dreams, or just take a leap of faith and try. And we want to share this platform with our community; give opportunity to a variety of theatre artists and exciting, alternative theatre options for our audiences.

MB:  Why did you call your company Theatre Just Because?

DRE: Honestly? Okay, I’m going to be honest with you. We were terribly stuck with “Theatre” being the first word. But maybe that was just me. Michelle and I were going back and forth, rapid fire. “Theatre…” We both suggested about a thousand things. Fill in the blank.

MT: It was kind of a throw away. When we started the name Theatre; Just Because when we were filling out applications to be in a festival and decided we may as well give ourselves a company name to keep it simple. We asked why we were doing the show and really it is just because.

DRE: It can mean anything. Just Because it’s a way to connect, a way to create, a way to express yourself, a way to tell your story, a way to be a part of and contribute to your community. It’s anything you want, anything you need it to be.

MT: This is in our blood, its why we wake up in the morning. We are theatre artists. There is no definable reason. Its just in us.

MB: What is your mandate?

MT: Our mandate is to produce relevant theatre with local artists, utilizing black box and found theatre spaces. To educate and inform, to ask questions and explore. To share with other artists and to create outside the box. To make theatre which is reflective of the community in which it is created in and to give back to the community that we were born and raised in.

DRE: We’re accomplishing that by our three-fold series of workshops with the Suncor Energy Centre for the Performing Arts.  And of course, we always want to be producing different kinds of theatre ourselves. Theatre that Fort McMurray hasn’t seen before.

MB:   How has the company grown since you first started?

DRE: It’s grown massively. We first started out as a company that produced a single One Act Play a year. We used to rehearse in my parent’s basement, then in Michelle’s living room. Our company comes from very modest means.

MT: We can actually call ourselves a company now, that’s pretty huge. I think a sense of accountability has also taken a stronghold on us as well. There is so much potential for a fresh alternative theatre company in town and we are so blessed that The Suncor Energy Centre for the Performing Arts are supporting us as we begin to branch our way out into the community. We've been working together for years but I get a sense that we have barely scratched the surface.

DRE: Now we’ve incorporated more theatre artists — the ever inspiring Terri Mort and Pattie Dwyer, and a full season workshops that are completely free and open to the public.

MT: These are exciting times for Theatre; Just Because.

MB: Who inspires you?

MT: My community. The people within it. The lives we live as Canadians. I'm usually drawn to the salt of the earth, I get inspiration from overlooked individuals. I'm curious about their stories.

DRE: My family. Whenever I create something, I want to create something that they’d like to see. 

MB: Fort McMurray is a place where people come for work, is it hard for you to attract audiences, artists, and support? Is it difficult creating theatre in an oil town?

MT: I don't think either of us really view Wood Buffalo that way. I, myself never refer to it as an oil town; it’s just my home. We're both born and raised Fort McMurray. Graduated from the same high school. Our immediate families still live here. We are so deeply rooted and invested in our community and the support has been amazing. The ADFA Regional Festival sold out last year with only two plays. People in our community want a theatre experience and we want to give them performances that resonate with them.

DRE: I don’t find it difficult at all. The support in our community is extraordinary - from audience’s interest to the support of the theatres in Fort McMurray. We were fortunate to have the Suncor Energy Centre for the Performing Arts want to partner with us to provide the means, support, and guidance we need to deliver the workshops we dreamed of. We’re lucky enough to have amazing audience turn outs to our shows. I can’t express my gratitude for that. However, it is difficult to attract new, up-and-coming artists. The theatre community here is full of superb talent, mind blowing and amazing talent. But I want to see the people who are new to this, who have maybe watched a few shows and said to themselves, “maybe I could…,” take the stage. If anything, my one complaint is that everyone’s schedules are all over the place and it makes scheduling rehearsals a nightmare. But it’s a nightmare that can be creatively worked around.

MB: How do you want to grow theatre/arts in Wood Buffalo? What is your vision for theatre in this community?

DRE: My vision for theatre in Wood Buffalo is to see more independent creation. More playwrights, more directors, more artists with the gusto to put on an independent production, and more participation in the ADFA Regional One Acts Festival.

MT: I personally would love to see/create more educational based theatre programming. The arts is such a phenomenal way to educate and raise awareness. I also want to provide more opportunity for local artists to have opportunities to showcase their strengths and learn new skills from their peers. I am a Canadian Theatre junkie and would love to see more focus on local playwrights and encouragement of locally written pieces. We've seen major successes of playwrights in Wood Buffalo, Jeff Hoffman's One Man MacBeth, you, Mr. Beamish with Hometown The Musical, and Pattie Dwyer's Mountaintop. I want to make theatre that is accessible and relatable. Theatre that tells the stories of the people living in our region. Theatre that educates, that pushes boundaries, that brings people together. Theatre that entertains us in the good times and comforts us in the bad. 

MB:   What is up and coming for Theatre Just Because?

MT: We have several events that are showing for Alberta Culture Days. We’ve remounted our production of The Most Massive Woman Wins from the spring Regional ADFA Festival. We’re also creating a staged reading of I, Claudia by Kristen Thompson.
From October, 2015-March 2016, we’re providing a three-fold series of workshops that will give community members the tools and resources they need to produce, direct, stage manage, design, or act in their own One Act Play. We're also starting a Play Reading Club at the end of September and we have a pretty incredible script picked out for the first session. 

DRE: If you would like to see the full schedule of our workshops please visit our website at 

MB: Thank you for the interview ladies.

MT & DRE: Thank you.

For details on Theatre Just Because events at Alberta Culture Days please visit  

Friday, 18 September 2015

The 2015 Fall & Winter Community Guide is Now Available!

The 2015 Fall & Winter Community Guide to Recreation, Culture & Social Support Services is now available! You can find the Community Guide at various locations around town such as MacDonald Island, Wood Buffalo Regional Library, Keyano College, Heritage Park and the Oil Sands Discovery Centre.  A full listing of locations is available at Be sure to pick up your copy!

The Guide is a great resource to learn more about the fun events, programs and activities in our community. Whether you are interested in learning about different cultures or discovering a new hobby, participating in local environmental initiatives or signing up for one of the many sports and recreational groups, you can find more information in the Guide. And if you’re a parent looking for fun ways to keep your kid busy, there’s a section specifically for Children & Youth too!

As you flip through the pages, I’m sure you will be amazed at all the opportunities that await you in Wood Buffalo- I know I did!

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo publishes the Community Guide every Spring and Fall to provide free advertising opportunities for not-for-profit community organizations to promote their recreation and cultural activities or community services. Every effort was made to invite all community organizations to participate in the Community Guide. If you are part of such an organization and would like to be featured in the Guide, please contact

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Come Celebrate Our New Mural!

Artists Daniel J. Kirk and Ivan Ostapenko of Calgary, air brushing the graffiti abatement mural at Lions Park in Fort McMurray.
Residents are invited to attend Lions Park (3 Tolen Drive) on September 18 from 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. to witness the unveiling. The event will also feature guest speakers, food, music, and of course, great art.
The initiative is intended to discourage graffiti vandalism while encouraging creativity through positive contributions to the community.
Painted by professional artists Daniel J. Kirk and Ivan Ostapenko of Blank Page Studio in Calgary, this year’s mural covers a large section of the retaining wall under the Prairie Loop Boulevard bridge. The mural artists were chosen by a selection panel after the Municipality issued a national call to artists. 
The Lions Park mural is the fourth installment of the Graffiti Abatement Mural Program, which provides legal spaces for street art and is a proactive approach to preventing graffiti vandalism. Previous installations include last year’s mural on the Beacon Hill pump house, also painted by Kirk and Ostapenko, a mural behind Father Turcotte Elementary School painted by artist Allan Ryan in 2013, and another mural behind Composite High School painted in 2012 by Wil Yee.

Please RSVP to by September 18.

Fort Mac Hand Crafted Market Returns to Alberta Culture Days

Returning to this years’ Alberta Culture Days festival in Wood Buffalo will be the very popular handcrafted market organized by Fort Mac Hand Crafted Market – a unique, locally based group that organizes markets and helps incubate their member’s businesses. Etsy Made in Canada is part of Fort Mac Hand Crafted Market’s plan to help craftpreneurs expand globally. Etsy, the online marketplace that has garnered an almost cult-like following of shoppers looking for handcrafted, vintage goods, and supplies, is bringing its cross-Canada Made in Canada marketplace to Fort McMurray the weekend of Alberta Culture Days, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 26th and 27th, at the Westwood Community High School (221 Tundra Drive) from  10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The market will be placing a special emphasis on makers and suppliers this year. Etsy online shoppers will have the chance to meet, greet and shop from Wood Buffalo area sellers from as far away as Fort Chipewyan. All fees raised from table rentals will be donated to the Westwood Improv Team to help support their travelling expenses to the Edinburgh Fringe where they’ve been invited to perform.
Made in Canada is a part of Etsy’s recent initiative to take the online marketplace offline, creating the opportunity for our local sellers to connect with each other, and with buyers,” Erin Green, country manager for Etsy Canada said in a press release. “We are really proud to be supporting local Etsy sellers across the country, such as in Fort McMurray and its surrounding areas, and fostering creative collaborations and the growth of the maker movement in Canada.”
The event, which is one of 34 similar pop-up marketplaces happening across the country including events in Edmonton and Calgary, will bring together many local established and newly signed up Etsy sellers and interested shoppers for the first time. The space will also be host to a Pop-Up Art Gallery with the Art Guild, a Run for the Cure display, and youth buskers to entertain the crowds.
During the market, SWAG bags will be given to the first 10 shoppers through the door on Saturday. They’ll also be drawn for throughout the day. The gift bags will feature some Etsy goodies and gift card, samples from vendors and some items from businesses supporting the pink ribbon Run for the Cure. There will also be a draw for a gift basket of products from the vendors and the Fort Mac Hand Crafted Market at the end of the market on Sunday.
As a part of the festival Alberta Culture Days in Wood Buffalo will be having a special contest; Attend three events at three different venues and you can enter to win a pair of season tickets to Keyano Theatre’s 4-Play Drama Series. For contest details and a full listing of events, download our online booklet,

For more information on Etsy please visit,          or email                                                                                         

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Free Gallery Space

A new group exhibit space has been created within McMurray Experience called Art in Motion. This gallery space is kinetic featuring a Ferris wheel style apparatus that rotates the art pieces. Artists will have their work exhibited within this rotating display case, and their information (didactic panel) shown on an electronic screen as their work rotates through the feature spot. They will also have the opportunity to sell their pieces to the public though their works will remain on display till the end of the exhibition. 

Art in Motion is currently looking for new submissions to their Fall Exhibition, Crisp, Oct. 1 to Jan. 8. From a freshly printed 50-dollar bill to a breath of fresh air in November the fall theme, Crisp, is deliberately ambitious to challenge artists to be creative and to think outside of the box. Express what “crisp” means to you, deadline for submissions is Sept. 18 and submissions are only accepted online via the online submission form. The exhibit has space for 12 pieces. Please visit for more information and to submit your work.  If you have questions regarding A.I.M please contact Kizzie Sutton,, 780- 743-7984.

Friday, 4 September 2015

The World Meets in Wood Buffalo

From September 23-27 the Regional Municipality will be celebrating Alberta Culture Days. Alberta Culture Days started in 2008 as Alberta Arts Day – one day to recognize the value of the province’s arts and cultural communities, with 100 events held in 30 communities. Since then, it has expanded into an annual three-day celebration that helped inspire the creation of Culture Days — a pan-Canadian movement to raise the awareness, accessibility, participation and engagement of all Canadians in the arts and cultural life of their communities. In 2014, there were more than 1,200 events in 98 Alberta communities.

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo has taken part since 2009 and the event has become so popular that three days are not enough to showcase the community’s vibrant arts, rich heritage and cultural diversity. We are devoting five days to promoting and appreciating the artists, creative professionals, volunteers and non-profit groups that help make the region a great place to live, work and PLAY! From September 23-27, there are all kinds of activities and performances for residents of all ages. All of the events are planned and presented by our very own community members and are FREE to attend.

The World Meets in Wood Buffalo, created and organized by the Multicultural Association of Wood Buffalo, has been a highlight of the Alberta Culture Days Festival for the past two years.  The event brings together cultures from around the world onto one stage to preform cultural and folk dances plus music from their home countries. This year the show will feature over 15 different cultural dances. Admission is free plus there will be multicultural snacks for purchase. The event will be taking place September 26, 6pm-9pm and September 27, 2pm-5pm at Shell Place, SP Grand Ballroom CD.  The World Meets in Wood Buffalo is proudly sponsored by Nexen, The United Way, the Government of Canada, and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.  

The Multicultural Association’s mandate is to support cultural groups and newcomers through services, programs, events and initiatives that foster cross-cultural awareness and understanding. By integrating newcomers and encouraging local residents to take pride in their heritage the Multicultural Association helps to build and celebrate the diverse culture of Wood Buffalo.  Their vision is to create unity in diversity with the goal that our diverse cultures are reflected in all aspect of our society from the economy to government.

“Building bridges across different cultures and developing friendships are the bedrock of building community; it also makes a community welcoming and inclusive and helps people stand up against racism and discrimination. Multiculturalism adds colour and vibrancy to the community, breaks myths and misconceptions about uncommon cultures and building a place all can call home,” says Executive Director Mary Thomas. 

If you would like to support the Multicultural Association they are seeking volunteers to help at their upcoming events, their language clubs taking place at local schools, and participants to take part in dialogues and discussions.  

For more information on The World Meets in Wood Buffalo and all the events happening at Alberta Culture Days please visit and download their online festival booklet. For further information or questions please contact Michael Beamish, michael.beamish@rmwb.ca780-788-1498.