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Growing a baby (and a Festival) in a pandemic

In June 2020, I found myself pregnant with my second child. I rolled my eyes at becoming a part of the now famous “Covid-baby club.” It’s a popular club for a reason and I was now a happy member. We had just recently and successfully hosted our 8th annual SkirtsAfire Festival in March, about a week before the lockdowns began. I remember enjoying the spring and the start of summer, feeling optimistic that in a month or two, things would return to normal and we would all get back to our festival city as planned. Then slowly but surely, things started getting postponed, then canceled, and our case numbers took a sharp turn for the worse. Through it all, as I grew this baby mostly isolated to my home, we planned for SkirtsAfire 2021: a return to indoor in-person performances in a safe way.

Having a baby in a pandemic is different. This baby will be welcomed into the world with masks and the strong scent of hand sanitizer and the rough touch of overly-washed chapped hands. No gatherings of friends and family to hold and kiss the fresh being that just entered the world. Instead, there will be more screen time than I’d like to admit my newborn will have, more time spent with me on my phone texting and emailing pictures and updates, more time spent alone, just our small family. I think of my friends who have had babies in 2020 who have no family in the city, most out of the country even, who have had no relatives allowed to visit and have no known date in the future they’ll get to meet the new addition. My sisters live in Hong Kong and I don’t know when they will get to meet their new nephew. Things I never thought I’d need to feel sad about before.

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In Edmonton, Events, Health, Style on
February 19, 2021

SkirtsAfire REIMAGINED #YEG + {Discount code}

SkirtsAfire in Edmonton is self-described as “diverse and daring”. Things are a little different this year, but it will still be 10 days of engaging and entertaining performances and experiences!

We have taken in their 2017 through 2020 MainStage Productions as well as Opening Night Parties, and of course, the fantastic SkirtsAfire Skirt Design Competition. This year they will be bringing the heart of SkirtsAfire into your home! Check out SkirtsAfire’s engaging online content as well as outdoor offerings, where you can expect a covid-safe trip around Old Strathcona experiencing art, design, and music.

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Celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day in Alberta

June 21st is National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada. It’s a time to celebrate, honour and learn more about our history and culture! Events take place throughout the month of June, but here’s what’s happening around Alberta in the next week or so…

National Indigenous Peoples Day Events in Alberta:

  • Edmonton & Area

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In Edmonton, Events, Explore, Random Thoughts on
February 22, 2019

Alberta Mamas SkirtsAFire Artist Spotlight – Writer Michelle Todd {+Giveaway}

As I prepare to perform Deep Fried Curried Perogies at SkirtsAfire Festival this March, I think of the person who made me a mother.

My first born. This beautiful, tall, lean, long physique, gorgeous smile, thoughtful, patient, gooby sense of humour, mini-man. And promptly burst into tears. It has been such a surprisingly long road, it’s not over, but man!

Suddenly he’s 16 and adulthood is around the corner. For him! I can barely believe that I’m no longer the “young adult”. I still can’t exhale. I’m still scared. When he was first born, to the oft asked “How is he? How is motherhood?” I would reply, “Still alive,” not because he had any history of disease, but because it was my new mantra and let’s be honest, many an African violet and bamboo plant have expired in my care. And now I had a human?!?!

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In Christmas, Parenting, Random Thoughts on
November 23, 2018

Telling My Kids We Don’t Celebrate Christmas

I don’t celebrate Christmas, I never have. I grew up in beautiful Jasper National Park. Although now it is a lovely diverse community, when I was growing up in the 90’s it wasn’t so diverse. There were not even a handful of Muslim families and basically 2 Arab families. Finding a sense of community based on my faith and heritage was impossible. Luckily for me, although predominantly Caucasian, the community of Jasper National Park is made up of some of the most amazing, supportive and accepting people I have ever met. We weren’t the only minorities, but for me it sure seemed so!

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The One-of-a-Kind International Children’s Festival of the Arts is Coming + {Giveaway}

The International Children’s Festival of the Arts: Stories Alive is a one-of-a-kind kids experience that happens right here in Alberta. St. Albert, Alberta to be exact! This annual cultural extravaganza is happening Tuesday, May 29 through Sunday, June 3, 2018.

There’s no shortage of fun at this festival!

Photo Russell Bingham

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In Calgary, Central Alberta on
November 4, 2017

14 Places for Indoor Fun in Red Deer & Area

The snow is here and maybe here to stay. There’s always fun to be had outside – snowman making, tobogganing, and fort making. Sometimes having someplace to go and play inside can prevent full-on hibernation mode and expend some energy in a warm and cozy environment.

Here’s our list of places to take your kids for some indoor fun in and around Red Deer.

Red Deer Museum offers great programming for kids and the chance to have fantastic art & cultural experiences.

Red Deer Public Library. Have you looked at their calendar? With 3 branches there is something going on all the time. And if not, there’s always the books to take your kid away on a ride through their imagination!

Check out the Red Deer Recreation and Culture activity guide! The Collicutt Centre offers registered programs, drop-ins, a climbing wall and of course – the water park!

Jump 360 Red Deer offers lots of trampoline fun!

Treehouse Indoor Playground Red Deer has events, daily specials and lots of indoor fun – 11,000 square feet of it to be precise.

If you’ve got an artist on your hands, Color Me Mine has creative outlet options for your kids. They could even make some Christmas gifts for grandma and grandpa. Two birds, one stone there!

Lazerforce offers indoor laser tag for all ages.

Outside the City

You can find all kinds of fun inside Alberta Sports Hall of Fame Museum including interactive mulit-sport games.

In Blackfalds, the Red Deer Kinsmen Indoor Playspace, located in the Abbey Centre,  has 6 levels and over 2600 square feet of fun for your child 12 years and under.

The Sylvan Lake NexSource Centre features a children’s playspace & programming for the whole family.

Also in Sylvan Lake, much like the RDPL, Sylvan Library has programming for kids and of course – books!

In Penhold, the Multiplex Area offers drop in programming and special events.

There’s also the Penhold Library!

Central Parkland Parentlink runs programs and playgroups in the smaller towns and rural areas too!

Did we miss anything? Where do you take your little one to play in and around Red Deer?

In Edmonton, Parenting on
October 21, 2017

Special 2 for 1 offer – Bobs and LoLo in St. Albert!

Have your little ones ever been to an Arden Theatre show? With pre-show activities and always having amazing people hit the stage, it’s a go to in the Edmonton area. We’ve got the scoop on a very special deal for you & your kids to get in on the fun!

On November 5, at 2pm, Bobs and LoLo from Sing Dance and Play with Bobs and LoLo from Treehouse TV will be on the Arden Stage! This performance is a part of their Family Series called Noisy Theatre- a series which is child-friendly and provides a relaxed environment that caters to toddlers and adults!

Special Promo For AM Readers!

Two tickets for the price of one! To receive this offer,  call the box office at 780-459-1542 to book your tickets and identify ALBERTA MAMAS as the place you’ve received the special offer from! That’s it!

For more informtion on the show visit


In Explore, Lifestyle, Parenting on
August 1, 2017

Summer a Fantastic Season to explore Canada’s Indigenous Culture!

By Billi J Miller

During my previous career with Government, I spent two years working directly with First Nations in Alberta. I was fortunate to meet many inspiring people, and to learn things about Indigenous culture directly from Elders and other locals working hard in their communities to continue and pass along their traditions. It is an experience that I will never forget.

I have always been captivated by the connection to nature and seasons in indigenous cultures. Summer is a fantastic season to take in many celebrations that are hosted by Indigenous people and communities in our Province!

If you live in rural Alberta like I do, you may not have as much access to “cultural” events as the larger centers. Keep an eye out, though, you may be surprised! If there isn’t much offered in or around your community, take a road trip to your nearest city for cultural events… I make a point of it. For me, it’s important to expose my kids to people and ways of life that are different from theirs.

The 21st of June is known as ‘Summer Solstice’ and the first day of summer. In Canada, it is also “National Aboriginal Day” (which this year is being re-named to: “National Indigenous Peoples Day” by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau). A multitude of events take place country-wide to celebrate the heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis!

My nearest city (Lloydminster) unfortunately didn’t host an event locally, so I packed up the kids and drove the two-and-a-half hours west to Edmonton for the day. There were several events going on in the city, but I chose APTN’s Aboriginal Day Live  that was being held at Victoria Park. It took a bit of planning to get to the event with kids in tow (as there was no parking on-site) but a quick hop online told me all I needed to know to get there using the free shuttles that were provided.

The food, tents, dancing, drumming and overall atmosphere of “Aboriginal Day Live” was definitely worth the drive. This was an event that was being simultaneously held and broadcast in a number of other cities across the country. The weather was perfect, and it was a perfect way to celebrate and honour the cultures, traditions and dances of our Indigenous Peoples. I took the opportunity to begin the conversation with my kids (ages four and five) about Canada’s “First Peoples” and even at this young age, I love how eager they are to learn about other people and the world around them.

There are so many different types of dancers and they all have special meaning. My youngest daughter’s favourite are “chicken dancers”.

Hands-down, my favourite moment of the day was seeing a group of Hutterite people taking in the event also. It was touching to see some of the dancers come out and bring them into the circle to take part. Everyone ended up joining. It was a great sight and a true celebration of acceptance and inclusivity.

I strongly encourage seeking out National Aboriginal Day (or National Indigenous Peoples Day) events in your area on June 21st. It often brings forth the best of celebrations honouring ALL Indigenous cultures from Canada.

Next up, another great event to watch for in summer are “Pow Wows” that are often held across the country. They are public or private – but, if public – they are a great way to experience a celebration that showcases Indigenous music, dances, dance apparel, food and crafts. They can last a day – or a whole week. My hometown of Lloydminster is less than an hour from Onion Lake Cree Nation. It is technically into Saskatchewan (Lloydminster is a border city). Their Annual Pow Wow was held from July 15-17, 2017. I hadn’t had the opportunity to visit that Nation before, so I knew this event was one I wanted to go to. Again, I packed up my four and five year old girls and we drove there early on Sunday to get a good seat in the stands for the afternoon.

The Grand Entry of this Pow Wow was probably one of the most spectacular I’d ever seen. My girls couldn’t stop watching, and the drumming and singing were breathtaking. Even a brief, but fierce, rain storm didn’t stop the beauty of the afternoon, in fact, maybe that’s what made it all the more powerful.

I encourage everyone to attend a powwow in your local area. Here are some useful resources if you are a first time attendee. 1) A Guide to Taking Your Family to a Powwow for the First Time 2) Five Tips for the first time you attend a Powwow 

Billi J Miller is a freelance writer, photographer + published author who works from her home office on a 106-year old farm near Lloydminster, Alberta, Canada. She is convinced she’s found the work she is meant to do, and has no plans to stop telling the stories of inspiring Canadians. Billi owns two photography businesses (fine art photography) and (farm photography) + writes freelance and is currently writing her second book