Saturday, June 25, 2016

Review/ Church Street...Where Hope Grows

The historic and iconic Church Street is commemorated in a new book of personal stories, poetry, and photographs

CHURCH Street is a section of the McCauley inner city neighbourhood on 96 Street between 111 Avenue and 107 Avenue. It is so named because of the large concentration of churches along the street. It's also an area near and dear to my heart for two reasons: I edit a community newspaper in that area (Boyle McCauley News) and am a director of the Friends of Church Street Society, which seeks to preserve and promote the historical nature of the area.

This unique section of Edmonton also caught the attention of writer Patricia Travers and photographer Sandra Franzoi. Church Street . . . Where Hope Grows is a collaborative effort featuring stunning photographs of the churches, particularly their architecture and icons, as well as portraits and words from people in the area. The latter represent a slice of life from the area: both “haves” and “have nots” and their various joys and struggles.

Woven between the photos are Travers' poetry and prose, providing her observations on life in Church Street and the beauty, history, and struggles that can be found there. Her style is extremely sentimental and weaves between different forms and structures. The book is beautifully laid out and quite unique and artful. It demonstrates just how powerful Church Street is visually, and in terms of issues of faith social justice. 

Church Street . . . Where Hope Grows is available as an eBook that can be ordered directly through Travers Publishing.


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Who Does She Think She Is?

Celebrity Impersonator Tracey Bell Returns Home to Edmonton with Pride

TRACEY Bell has a colourful and dynamic history with her hometown of Edmonton.

Years before making a name for herself as an award-winning impersonator of classic celebrity “divas” at events around the world, Tracey Bell grew up in North East Edmonton and was impersonating celebrity favourites in her earliest school years.
Tracey Bell portraying (from left) Julie Andrews, Cher, Marilyn Monroe, and Celine Dion!

“I did my first impersonations of Cher at recess at York Elementary School. My friend and I would alternate playing Sonny Bono and Cher,” she says. 

As she continued on to Steele Heights Junior High and M.E. LaZerte High School, Tracey added impersonations of Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, and Nana Mouskouri to her budding celebrity repertoire, winning drama awards and dancing in the opening ceremonies of the 1978 Commonwealth Games. 

After working for The Edmonton Journal in the circulation department and entering the University of Alberta to study sociology, Tracey Bell’s career turning point came in 1985 at a famed Edmonton night spot – Goose Loonies. 

“I was a full-time student, working as a coat check attendant at Goose Loonies. They wanted a Tina Turner routine because "Private Dancer" was all the rage at that time. I asked to try out and it went over so well that I left school and they hired me full-time,” she recalls.

As the in-house act at Goose Loonies, Tracey Bell developed impersonations of dozens of other characters including Liza Minnelli, Madonna, Janis Joplin, and Dolly Parton. After going independent three years later, Tracey created a one-woman show called “8 Divas in 44 Minutes”, highlighted by lightning fast costume changes and comedic impersonations. 


Tracey Bell’s celebrity impersonation shows have taken her across the globe for corporate events and film and television opportunities – all to great acclaim. 

Now based in Vancouver, she’s previously been named Entertainer of the Year at the Canadian Event Industry Awards and at the BC Event Industry Awards. She’s guest-starred on The X-Files as Cher, sang to Pierre Trudeau as Marilyn Monroe, and performed for the Consul General in Shanghai as Celine Dion and others. Tracey also worked with Hilary Swank, Arianna Huffington, and First Lady Cherie Booth Blair when she hosted The Power Within For Women

Even with her success, Tracey always remembers where she came from and returns often.

“I’ve performed many times at the Klondike Days Exhibition, as well as the SAGE Awards for the Seniors Association of Greater Edmonton, the Glenrose Hospital’s chocolate-themed fundraiser and many private corporate events. It’s always special to come back to where it all started and do what you love for the great people here,” she says.

Saturday, June 4th marks Tracey Bell’s next homecoming to Edmonton. She will be performing at End of Steel Park as part of the 36th annual Edmonton Pride Festival. She’ll be doing her trademark celebrity impersonations in her favourite city. If you’ve never seen her, it will be well worth a look.

The beautiful Tracey Bell!

For more about Tracey Bell, click HERE.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Review/ Apartheid in Palestine: Hard Laws and Harder Experiences

This collection of essays takes a personal look into the conflicts of the Middle East from all viewpoints

by paula e. kirman

WHEN it comes to the situation in the Middle East, specifically that of the generations-old conflict between Israel and Palestine, some say that there are two sides to the story. However, as Edmonton-based editor and academic Ghada Ageel demonstrates in Apartheid in Palestine, there are far more than just two.

Apartheid in Palestine is a collection of essays that both humanize and analyze issues of occupation, displacement, colonization, and apartheid – the latter being the most controversial term of the group when applied to Israel's policies concerning Palestinian land and human rights. However, far from being inflammatory, these stories of struggle are balanced in their presentations, including authors that are Palestinian, Israeli, activists, academics, and people who have lived in the region and witnessed that which they seek to tell the world.

Ageel herself is a third-generation Palestinian refugee, born and raised in the Khan Younis Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip. She is a Visiting Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta and a columnist for the Middle East Eye, an online news portal based in London, England. Regardless of what position you hold with regard to Israel and Palestine, this is an important and challenging read that presents perspectives worthy of study and discussion.