Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Northern Lights

Living in a northern region allows us to take in the beauty of the northern lights.  Numerous nights throughout the year provide a wonderful opportunity to take in this dynamic light show.  Streams of colour paint the night sky in a lively show.

Have you ever wondered what causes the northern lights or how they get their colour? Northern lights are a result of charged particles from the sun’s atmosphere colliding with gaseous particles in the earth’s atmosphere.  Yellow/green is the most common colour which is produced by oxygen molecules that are approximately 97 km above the earth’s surface.  Pink/red lights are produced by oxygen molecules that are approximately 322 km above the earth’s surface.  While blue/purple lights are produced by nitrogen molecules.

The sun has such a high temperature.  As a result, it is a common occurrence for collisions between gas molecules which results in freed electrons and protons entering the earth’s atmosphere.  Solar winds carry the charged particles.  As they have a charge, the earth’s magnetic field deflects them but the magnetic field at each of the poles is weaker so some particles enter.  It is these charged particles which collide with gas molecules that result in the magnificent light show known as the aurora borealis. 

There is a website you can visit to try to best determine a night to see the northern lights.  The website is based out of Edmonton which provides updates and alerts for when the northern lights should be out.  This website can be found at the following link:  They are seen best when the sky is dark and there is little to no light pollution from street lights.

The aurora borealis are quite a tremendous thing to behold.  They can last for long or short periods of time.  Be patient and take time to enjoy the show from mother nature.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Wood Buffalo Culture Spring Trade Show Information Booth

Members of the Culture Network plan to host a “Wood Buffalo Culture” information booth at the upcoming Spring Trade Show taking place from April 28 to 30, 2017. The goal of this booth is to highlight the diverse network of cultural organizations who contribute to an enriched quality of life for the residents of Wood Buffalo.

If your organization supports local arts, historical, and/or cultural endeavours, join us in this unified effort to showcase our regions robust cultural network!

Please submit the information below to no later than Monday April 10th

Please be aware that the information you provide will be used to promote your organization to the public. Please do not include your personal contact information.

General Contact Information

Organization Name: 
Website (if applicable):

Phone Number (if applicable):   
General Email:

Provide a brief overview of the services you offer in 50 words or less:   

Please attach your organizations logo in EPS, or, PNG Format (File must be no larger than 10MB)

Send email to: by Monday, April 10, 2017

Please send any questions or comments to:
Theresa Jolliffe - Coordinator II, Community Strategies, Community Services Department, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
P: 780.743.7994


Your personal information is collected under the authority of Section 33(c) of Alberta’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.  It will be used to register your participation in the Wood Buffalo Culture – Spring Trade Booth.  If you have questions or concerns about the collection or use of your personal information or any other types of questions contact Theresa Jolliffe, Community Strategies Coordinator, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo at Jubilee Building, 9909 Franklin Ave, or email or call 780-743-7994.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Take Some Time for Your Mental Health

It is very easy for all of us to notice when we need to seek help or take time for physical pain but how many of us don’t take the time for mental health?  After having been through a traumatic event, we need to take this time more than ever.  

One way that could help would be to attend a Mindfulness Weekend Intensive which is provided by Borealis Counselling Services.  One such event is coming up on March 18 and 19, 2017.  The sessions run from 9 am-4 pm each day at the office which is located at 118 Millenium Drive.  The Red Cross has provided funding in order for this weekend session to be offered free of charge.

The Mindfulness Weekend Intensive is designed to help teach skills of stress reduction and to enhance wellbeing through mindfulness.  There is no prior experience in mindfulness needed to sign up for the session.  If this sounds like something you would be interested in, phone 780-791-1757 to find out more or to register.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

It’s Time to Start Planning Culture Days in Wood Buffalo

Photo Credit: Greg Halinda
Alberta Culture Days began in 2008 as Alberta Arts Days, since then, it has expanded into a vibrant, three day celebration. Alberta Culture Days then inspired the creation of Culture Days – a pan Canadian movement that raises awareness and participation in the cultural life of our communities. 

Wood Buffalo became involved with the festival in 2009. 2017 marks the 9th year that the region will celebrate Culture Days, taking place this year from September 29th to October 1st. 

The key to a successful Culture Days celebration is the involvement of local cultural organizations and enthusiasts. Last year, over 2,000 people enjoyed Culture Days activities within Wood Buffalo. Over 25 community groups helped to organize and execute the 19 events that took place over a total of 5 days.

Photo Credit: Greg Halinda

These individuals and organizations dedicate their time and expertise to plan free, family friendly activities that engage the public and contribute to a broadened understanding of a communities cultural assets. Some of their many responsibilities include; organizing individual activities; attending and supporting Culture Days Planning Committee meetings; acquire funding; budget management; venue coordination; individual event marketing; volunteers coordination; information sharing and more.  

This year, the Wood Buffalo Culture Days planning committee would like you to get involved! 

The next meeting is to occur on:
Monday, March 20th from 6:30 – 8:00 PM within Jubilee Plaza in meeting room #1010 located on the main floor, 9909 Franklin Blvd.

To participate, contact the Culture Days administrative support, Theresa Jolliffe at the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Community Strategies Branch be email at  or by phone at 780-743-7994.
Looking for ideas and tips on how to host an event? 
Check out the National Culture Days website at 

Also, visit the Alberta Culture Days in Wood Buffalo Facebook page @culturedayswoodbuffalo  to see past local events. 

Friday, 24 February 2017

Recreation Culture Calls

If you want to know about what's going on around town, then check out Recreation Culture Calls!

This electronic newsletter showcases local recreation and cultural events, job postings, as well as volunteer and funding opportunities, and much more.

If you would like to have your email added or removed from this list, or would like to submit information about an upcoming opportunity please send your request to

To find out what's going on this weekend, please visit the Recreation Culture Calls page on the Municipal website or click here

Monday, 13 February 2017

February 15 is National Flag of Canada Day

This Canada Day, our country will be celebrating a milestone birthday: the big One Five Zero. 

Officially known as the sesquicentennial, 2017 marks 150 years since Canada's Confederation.  You can learn more about this upcoming celebration here.

While Canada may be well over 100 years old, did you know that our national flag is much younger? In fact, for the first 98 years of Canada's existence, our national symbol was not the beloved Maple Leaf. It was actually the British Union Jack! 

This changed in the 1960s when Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson called for the creation of a new Canadian flag and invited the public to submit their design ideas. Of the thousands of proposals, Dr. George Stanley's suggestion of a red maple leaf on a white and red background was accepted by Parliament.

On Feburary 15, 1965, the new official flag was hoisted for the first time on Parliament Hill. Every year since 1996, when February 15th was declared National Flag of Canada Day, we celebrate our beautiful flag. You can learn more about our flag here

This year marks the 52nd anniversary of our national flag. Canadians are invited to celebrate this important symbol of our identity. 

Take part in the “Share your Moment with the Flag Challenge” by posting a picture or video of you with the flag and inspire others to do the same! #canadianflag

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Valentine's Day: The Excuse for Eating Chocolate in February

Valentine’s Day is just a few days away and regardless of whether your relationship status is single or taken, February 14th is the perfect occasion to indulge in chocolate! In fact, it's practically impossible to resist the temptation when all the store shelves are filled with chocolates in all shapes and sizes. 

Why is that, anyway? Why is Valentine's Day associated with chocolate? What is the history behind the tradition of providing sweets to your sweetheart?

In 1861 Richard Cadbury, of the famous confectionary company, began selling chocolates in heart-shaped boxes.  The boxes also featured designs of cupids and rosebuds and were marketed as the ideal storage for love letters and mementos. This is how Valentine's Day and chocolate officially becoming a couple.

Over the years, the relationship continued to flourish. In 1907, chocolate pioneer Milton Hershey produced one of the the most popular Valentine's Day treats: Hershey Kisses (apparently so-called because of the "smooching" sound the chocolate made as it was being manufactured).
The commercialization of Valentines Day continued with the founding of the Russell Stover Candies Company. What began with Clara Stover wrapping candies in her kitchen in 1923, grew into one of the most successful commercial chocolate companies. The Stovers opened several companies to mass produce chocolates in heart-shaped boxes, which were then sold to department stores.

No matter what brand of chocolate you buy, be sure to enjoy the rich history that went into bringing them to you for Valentine’s Day!

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Recognizing Local Legend, Leonard Williams

Leonard "Len" Williams
Photo Courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Alberta
He (Len) didn’t harp on his hardships or on the discrimination, he just wanted to protect his family…” - Son, Gilbert Williams 

In 1995, the House of Commons officially dedicated the month of February to honouring the legacy of Black Canadians. This month, you are encouraged learn more about the substantial influence that Black Canadians have made to the history of Canada, and more specifically, to our region. To learn more and to participate in Black History Month, visit

This article recognizes one remarkable Black Canadian: Leonard Williams, who not only made a significant contribution to our region, but is an inspiration to Black Canadians as he circumvented racial discrimination and grew to become a highly respected Canadian citizen. 

Leonard, more commonly known as Len, was born on April 19th, 1885 in Upora, Mississippi.  In the wake of the Civil War, the southern United States harnessed much hatred and racial violence towards African Americans. After seeing his best friend lynched by the Ku Klux Klan, Len fled the United States and sought refuge in Canada. In 1910, Len secured a job as a caretaker with the Northern Alberta Railway where he worked on one of the most popular passenger services running from Edmonton to Waterways, known as the Muskeg Special. Len grew to be one of the most notable persons on Muskeg Special which, in 1925, he secured his status as a rail conductor.

Photo Source: Maisonneuve, M. (2011, October, 6). 
The N-Scale N.A.R. (Blogspot). 
Retrieved February 6, 2017

Len was known to be a loyal and trusted employee.  Dignitaries, small children and important cargo were placed in his care during the 28 hour trip between Edmonton and Waterways. So much was Len respected, he was chosen to assist in shipping the original Bison that would stock the Wood Buffalo National Park. Len remained a conductor for 35 years, and later retired in 1960 only to begin working for the next seven years as a jail watchman for the RCMP detachment in Fort McMurray. Len later began work as a night watchman from 1967 to 1969 at the Sawmill in Waterways and for the then Mildred Lake site (now operated by Syncrude). In recognition of his dedication, Len was appointed the honorary mayor of the Mildred Lake site in 1970. He passed away in December 27, 1977 leaving his legacy to his six children. 
Photo Source: Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, 
Heritage Plaque Program, 2013

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo is proud to recognize Leonard Williams as part of the Heritage Plaque program. A plaque has been placed in his honour within Wood Buffalo Park bordered by Wilson Drive and Williams Drive, Fort McMurray. 

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Celebrating Chinese New Year

As you would say in Cantonese, "Gung Hay Fat Choy!", meaning: Happy New Year! 

Chinese New Year, also commonly known as Spring Festival, is marked by the turn of lunisolar in the Chinese Calendar. In 2017, Chinese New Year will take place on January 28. The celebrated date changes year to year, and falls on the second new moon following the winter solstice. The holiday is generally celebrated for 15 consecutive days, starting from New Years Eve, and includes traditional events ranging from family meals/reunions, to prayers and gift offerings. 

Red envelopes are a common gift handed out from married couples or elderly people to children and unmarried adults. The envelopes typically contain money in an even denomination (not including the number four), to represent good fortune, prosperity and a long life. 

According to the Chinese zodiac, which rotates on a 12-year cycle, the year 2017 will celebrate the year of the Rooster. In Chinese astrology, those born in the year of the Rooster will embody the following characteristics: honesty, intelligence, flamboyance, flexibility, and confidence. 

Looking to take part in Chinese New Year celebrations? The Fort McMurray Chinese Canadian Cultural Society will be hosting their annual Chinese New Year banquet at the Suncor Energy Centre for the Performing Arts on Saturday, February 4, 2017 starting at 6 pm. The evening will include a Chinese buffet dinner, cultural performances, a lion dance, and many door prizes. 

To purchase tickets, or for more information, visit

Monday, 30 January 2017

Survey about Religion in Wood Buffalo

The Collaboration for Religious Inclusion (CRI) is conducting an online survey on religion, hosted by Applications Management Consulting. This online survey includes a fun Trivia Quiz about religion in the Wood Buffalo region. You will be able to see your Trivia Quiz results! Take the quiz now:

All information collected will be kept confidential and will support the development of an Action Plan on religious diversity in the Wood Buffalo Region. 

The Collaboration for Religious Inclusion (CRI) brings together like-minded organizations located in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo to promote unity through religious inclusion and understanding. The group aims to engage and educate the public through workshops, forums, media, and collaborative initiatives. For more information, visit the CRI's website at:

Friday, 27 January 2017

Recreation Culture Calls

If you want to know about what's going on around town, then check out Recreation Culture Calls!

This electronic newsletter showcases local recreation and cultural events, job postings, as well as volunteer and funding opportunities, and much more.

If you would like to have your email added or removed from this list, or would like to submit information about an upcoming opportunity please send your request to

To find out what's going on this weekend, please visit the Recreation Culture Calls page on the Municipal website or click here

Thursday, 26 January 2017

WinterPLAY 2017 Talent Show

One Direction, Miranda Lambert, Pentatonix, Usher and BeyoncĂ©.  What do they have in common?  They were all discovered in singing competitions.

If you’ve got a secret (or even not-so-secret) talent, there is a local opportunity for  you to shine: WinterPLAY 2017!

The talent competition at WinterPLAY is open to residents of all ages and all talents.  That means we’re looking for singers, dancers, comedians, actors, baton twirlers, magicians, fire eaters, and karate choppers!  Come show us what you’ve got and you could potentially win one of three prizes provided by Peter Pond Mall (first prize is a $1,000 Peter Pond Mall gift card).

Taking place Saturday, February 25 in the WinterSHOWCASE tent (which is a giant, inflatable igloo), performers will show off their talents in front of an audience and a community selection panel.  The judges will determine which acts will move forward to the finals, which take place on Sunday, February 26.

Be sure to register your performance by February 13.  You can register HERE.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Alanna at 780-792-5968.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Participate in the Canada Day Challenge

Are you creative? Get inspired and celebrate your future! 

Each year, the Canada Day Challenge invites young Canadians from 8 to 18 years old to submit their best, most dynamic drawings, photos or pieces of creative writing that celebrate Canada's culture and identity, illustrate their vision of the future, and reflects their exploration and participation in their community. 

By entering the Canada Day Challenge,  you could win a trip for two to Ottawa and be a VIP Guest on Parliament Hill on Canada Day to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation!

The Challenge is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2017. Entries are being accepted until March 31, 2017.

Get all the details at

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Celebrate Canada 150 by Learning about Canada's History

How much do you really know about Canada and its history? 

If you're don't remember much from your high school Canadian History class,  don't worry! Now there is a fun, interactive way to get your daily dose of Canadiana with #OnThisDay. 

As the name suggests, every day the webpage will feature a different event from Canada's past. You can learn more about our country, one day at a time!

Here is look at today's #OnThisDay:

January 18, 1904

At the First Annual Banquet of the Canadian Club of Ottawa, the Prime Minister of Canada, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, delivers a famous speech on the future of Canada.

“Canada has been modest in its history, although its history … in my estimation, is only commencing. It is commencing in this century. The nineteenth century was the century of the United States. I think we can claim that it is Canada that shall fill the twentieth century.”

#OnThisDay was launched by Library and Archives Canada in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation. To learn more about this project, please click here.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Wood Buffalo Arts and Craft Guild: A Brief History

Last April, the Wood Buffalo Arts and Craft Guild celebrated their 40th anniversary! The Guild was formed in 1976 with one of the remaining founding members, Carol Breen. The Guild's mission statement is “to encourage artists to pursue their artistic goals in the community.”

To date, the Guild has organized over six youth art competition called the Big Spirit Art Competition. Open to artists ranging from age 5 to 18 years old, this competition promotes the value of arts to local youth. The young artists were invited to submit artworks using watercolour, acrylic, pastels, pencil and/or charcoal in categories such as landscape, abstract, still life and portrait. While there was grand prizes awarded for the top artists in various categories, the guild realizes the importance of encouraging youth to peruse the arts and so all the participants were awarded with a ribbon.

In the past, the Guild has also partnered with Keyano College to host a high school art competition within Keyano’s art gallery. Winning competitors were awarded with prize money funded by the Wood Buffalo Arts and Craft Guild, as well as scholarship funding offered by Keyano College. Unfortunately, with a declining membership base and lack of funding, the Guild can no longer offer these competitions at this time. However, with a plan to boost membership registration, this worthy program may have the potential to be reintroduced.

The Wood Buffalo Arts & Craft Guild is also heavily involved in the community and host a variety of fundraising events that support local social profit organizations. A great example of this is when they hosted an art auction for Unity House, a local woman and children’s emergency shelter, where proceeds from the auction were divided between the artist and Unity House.  In addition to this, the President of the guild, Margie Cunningham, initiated a program called Healing Halls at the local hospital where a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of art goes to the Northern Lights Health Foundation.

The Guild also participates in several community celebrations like Alberta Culture Days in Wood Buffalo for which they created a community canvas on a large drop cloth and the public was invited to join in and paint.  Then, large pieces of it was auctioned off to raise money for the Kids Forever Foundation, a recently dissolved local charity that supported families who provide for sick and disabled. The guild began the creation of the community canvas at MacDonald Island Park, then continued out of the Oil Sands Discovery Centre, and finally donating the last of the pieces to be auctioned off at the Festival of Trees event, an annual fundraiser for various community charities.

The Wood Buffalo Arts & Craft Guild is one of the longest running art groups within the Wood Buffalo region. Guided by philanthropic principles, this group places the arts at the forefront of creative fundraising.  

The Wood Buffalo Arts & Craft Guild welcomes new members. To learn more, or to become a member, contact the President of the Guild, Margie Cunningham, at 

Stay informed on all upcoming events through their Facebook Page at

Thursday, 12 January 2017 – Friend making made easy! 

The beginning of a new year is the perfect opportunity to set goals and aspirations- commonly referred to as "New Years Resolutions"- for yourself.  Why not add making new friends, creating memories and experiencing new adventures to the list?

With the rise of social networking, it's easy to do! The Fort McMurray edition of offers many exciting and interesting groups  Whether it’s hiking, cooking, board games, investing, dancing, volunteer or reading, this website has so much to offer.

Each of the Meetup groups and events are coordinated by volunteers, and is open to all Wood Buffalo residents. To begin, simply visit the website to create a profile, add your interests, and select your region. You can also view a calendar of all of local events. 

Here are just a few for example of some of the many groups found on
Fort McMurray Hikers and Walkers
Fort McMurray Do Something! 20s and 30s
Fort McMurray Language Conversation Group
Latin Dance Fort McMurray
Fort McMurray Investors Meetup Group
Wood Buffalo Women in Networking
Fort McMurray Potluck and Games Meetup
And so many more!

So what are you waiting for? Join an upcoming event, or create your own and start making new friends.

For more information, or to find a “meetup” near you, visit

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Canada Summer Jobs

Are you looking to hire more help for the summer? Why not hire a student? Financial assistance for wages is available through the Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) initiative.

CSJ provides funding to not-for-profit organizations, public-sector employees and small businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees to create summer job opportunities for students. The initiative is designed to focus on local priorities, while helping both students and their communities. 

The application form as well as the applicant guide are currently available at You can submit your application online, by mail or in person at any Service Canada Centre.

For more information:

Call: 1-800-935-5555 (ATS: 1-800-926-9105)
Visit: a Service Canada Centre

Friday, 6 January 2017

Recreation Culture Calls

If you want to know about what's going on around town, then check out Recreation Culture Calls!

This electronic newsletter showcases local recreation and cultural events, job postings, as well as volunteer and funding opportunities, and much more.

If you would like to have your email added or removed from this list, or would like to submit information about an upcoming opportunity please send your request to 

To find out what's going on this weekend, please visit the Recreation Culture Calls page on the Municipal website or click here

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Calligraphy Workshops

Think of the last time you got a letter – an actual, hand-written letter – in the mail.  It was probably a quite some time ago, and you likely took great delight in opening the envelope to read the contents inside.

Every day, we are bombarded with e-newsletters and junk mail.  Our virtual (and actual!) mailboxes become so full of corporate messaging that all the content seems to run into each other.  Among the piles of glossy adverts and the unread messages in our inbox, the hand-written note is the rare and true gem.  Each letter represents and personal and unique part of the sender with a message crafted for a very specific audience: you.

Whether you’re sending out invitations for a special event, or if you’ve made it a goal to send more written correspondence, the Gothicized Italic Calligraphy Workshop might be for you!  Running January 18-February 15 (Wednesdays, 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm), this course will walk students through the art of beautiful penmanship.

The course will be held at the Suncor Energy Centre for Performing Arts and registration is open now.   

Monday, 2 January 2017

Free Poetry Workshops

Did you know that April is National Poetry Month?

Established in Canada in 1998, National Poetry Month strives to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry and the important role it plays in our culture.

Poetry is celebrated in Wood Buffalo through the annual Words in Motion program. Residents of all ages- whether they are a student, a professional writer, or a novice wordsmith- are encouraged to submit their poetry. You can learn more about Words in Motion at 

The deadline to submit your poetry is February 3, 2017. Once the program closes, an external panel of judges will select the poems to be displayed in Wood Buffalo Transit buses and on the Municipal website. Authors of the selected poems will be invited to participate in a celebration event at the Wood Buffalo Regional Library in April.

To help get your creative juices flowing, Dr. Ryan Cox of Keyano College will be facilitating two poetry workshops on January 10th (for adults) and January 18th (for ages 13-18) at the Wood Buffalo Regional Library. Attendance is free of charge! Be sure to register your spot here.

Happy Writing!