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Oral Histories

Alberta Labour History Institute

The Alberta Labour History Institute was founded in 1999 by a group of trade unionists, community activists, archivists, and historians who were interested in the collection, preservation, and publication of the stories of Alberta’s working people and their organizations. Of particular interest to women’s historians are the oral history interviews conducted by the Alberta Labour History Institute. A complete list of interviews with women can be found below, as well as brief description of the topics discussed in each interview.

Alberta Labour History Institute Oral Interviews:

Peggy Askin (2005), Calgary

This interview discusses Ms. Askin's involvement in the Telecommunications Workers Union (TWU) and her employment with Telus, including during the 'Soft Lockout' of 2005. Ms. Askin also discusses the Calgary District Labour Council and her work on women's committees of various organizations.

Joyce Avramenko (2003), East Coulie

Ms. Avramenko discusses her life as the wife of a coalminer, including the impact of shift work on wives and children and how mine closures affected family life. She also discusses the role of unions in a mining town as well as the abuse of women and children in some mining families.

Vicky Beauchamp (1998), Edmonton

A worker at a meatpacking plant from 1959-1994, Ms. Beauchamp discusses work during 1950s, including the fight for pay equity. She discusses health & safety issues, including changes that happened when Peter Pocklington purchased the plant.

Judy Blakely (2005), Hinton

Ms. Blakely, who worked as a nurse manager, discusses the similarities and differences between the Alberta and British Columbia health care structures. She also discusses the issue of the working poor and the increasing cost of homes in relation to wages in the service sector.

Margaret Ethier (2003), Edmonton

Ms. Ethier, a registered nurse, speaks to working as a nurse in an Alberta mental hospital as well as her involvement in the Alberta Association of Registered Nurses. She addresses nursing strikes in the 1980s as well as the mediation process, back-to-work legislation, and the Disputes Inquiry Board.

Mary Ewasiw (1998), Edmonton

A worker at the meatpacking plant on 66th street in Edmonton, from 1974-1997, Ms. Ethier speaks of her experiences. She discusses her work with the Work and Welfare Committee during the Maple Leaf Strike, as well as working conditions within the plant.

May Fingler (2205), High River

As a packinghouse worker, Ms. Fingler discusses working conditions as well as her involvement with the United Packinghouse Workers of America. She also provides information on the national packinghouse strike in 1947.

Ashley Grandy (2005), Brooks

Originally from Grand Bank, Newfoundland, Ms. Grandy addresses the issue of outmigration from Newfoundland. She provides insight on the 1992 cod moratorium, which seriously crippled the Newfoundland economy. In Alberta, Ms. Grandy worked at Lakeside Packers, where she trimmed round steak. She speaks of working conditions within the plant, including accidents and the company's refusal to give time off. She also discusses signing up with a union and the 2005 strike at the plant.

Gwen Hooks (2001), Leduc

A teacher from Leduc, Ms. Hooks discusses education for women in Alberta including education and employment opportunities for African Canadians. She describes a racialized incident in hiring and gives information on her experiences with the Alberta Teachers Association.

Cathy Jones (2005), Canmore

Ms. Jones addresses the subjects of Canmore's history, living and working in a coal mining town, as well as working as a registered nurse at the Banff Hospital.

Mary-Beth Laviolette (2005), Canmore

A CBC host as well as the museum administrator of the Canmore Museum, Ms. Laviolette discusses Alberta art history, mining, and volunteer work.

Liz Liska (2005), Crowsnest Pass

Ms. Liska focuses on the subject of coalmining in Crowsnest Pass. She speaks to the dangerous nature of mine work and also discusses why many people embraced Communism.

Clara Montgomery (2003), Drumheller

Ms. Montgomery discusses Morin buildings, community life, as well as home life from the 1930s to 1950s.

Peggy Morton (2005), Edmonton

Ms. Morton describes her involvement in the Communist Party of Canada-Marxist Leninist (CPC-ML) as well as peace activism during the cold war. She also addresses the women's movement, the Vietnam War, imperialism, anti-globalization, and the criminalization of dissent.

Anne Ozipko (2003), Edmonton

A garment worker at Great Western Garments/Levi Strauss, Ms. Ozipko discusses various aspect of her working life. She discusses piece work rates, assembly line work, and working conditions for women. She also addresses being a working mother, employment benefits, and the Ukrainian immigrant experience.

Hazel Proctor (2001), Calgary

As a community activist with the Alberta Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (AAACP), Ms. Proctor discusses the subject of multiculturalism in the 1950s and early 1960s. She also discusses her employment at the Council of Christians and Jews and Hattie's Chicken Inn.

Jean Ross (2005), Calgary

Ms. Ross, a resident of Calgary, discusses her involvement with various labour organizations, including the Public Service Alliance, UNDE, the National Union of Public Employees, and CUPE. She also addresses women's issues, childcare, and pension benefits

Lena Shellian

A Canmore historian, Ms. Shellian adresses Community; Heritage preservation and volunteer work in Canmore. She also discusses the impact of mining on Canmore as well as living in a company town.

Lorraine Stallknecht (2005) Fort McMurray

With a strong family background in union activism, Ms. Stallknecht discusses her involvement in labour activism in Fort McMurray in 1979. She also speaks to the issue of the 1997 strike at Safeway as well as working conditions with the company. Ms. Stallknecht also served as president of the Labour Council in Fort McMurray.

Beryl Stelmach (2006), Edmonton

Ms. Stelmach speaks to the experience of immigrating to Canada and discusses the differences she observed between nursing in the United Kingdom, Jamaica, and Canada.

Jan Tarasoff (2005), Calgary

A member of the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians (AUUC), Ms. Tarasoff also speaks about the Communist Party. She provides information on RCMP raids during the Cold War, the Federation of Russian Canadians, and the Workers' Benevolent Association.

Group Interviews Pertaining to Women:

Canmore Nurses (Maureen Brass, Helen Krizan, Pam Little, Jean Shafto)
2005 – Canmore

Topics discussed in this group interview include: personal life histories, nursing, nursing strikes, relationship between doctors and nurses, and the United Nurses of Alberta, among others.

Hinton Group (Bill Belcourt, Lauro Bertolin, Don Boucher, Mike Jodoin, Bryan Jones, Lynda Jonson, Ron Jonson, Wally Land, Noel Lapierre, Cory Maurik, John Mitchell, David Robson, Rod Schwetz, Bill Sommerfeld)
Hinton – 2005

Topics discussed in this group interview include: experiences with various unions (Communication, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP) Local 855, International Woodworkers of America (IWA), United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), etc), the roles of the union in the work place, working in and around hinton, strikes, and Alberta labour laws.

Crowsnest Pass Group 1 (Al Fontana, Emma Fontana, Veronica Fontana, Pauline Grigel, John Kinear, Clara Marconi, Albin Panek, Glen Poulton (Blondie), Emily Root, Ray Root, Bill Skura, Gary Taje, John Yeliga)
Crowsnest Pass – 2005

Topics discussed in this group interview include: coalmining in the Crowsnest Pass, family histories, mine accidents and fatalities, being the wife of a miner, and the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). Work stoppages and strikes, as well as the benefits of being unionized are also discussed.

Crowsnest Pass Group 2 (George MacDonald, Dick Marquardt, Clarence Morrow, Beryl Orr, Remo Quarin, Helen Suca, Mary Suca, Gary Taje, Betty Walmsley)
Crowsnest Pass – 2005

Topics discussed in this group interview include: coalmining in the Crowsnest Pass, family histories, teaching in the Crowsnest Pass, female teachers losing their jobs when they married, and Communism in the Crowsnest Pass in the 1920s and 1930s and why people turned to Communism.

Drumheller Group (Victor Avramenko, Lydia Husak, Elsie Kushnir, Jan Tarasoff)
Drumheller – 2003

Topics discussed in this group interview include: coalmining in Drumheller, growing up in Drumheller, mine strikes and mine working conditions. Mining accidents, May Day parades and union organizing are also discussed.

Student & Academic Services for The Alberta Women's Memory Project - Last Updated August 31, 2018