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MADE IN ALBERTA

How a new series of web comics is breathing life into AUPE’s 100 year history

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Stories are important. Stories connect us to our past, illuminate the present, and provide hints of what may come in the future. They’re more than just an ordering of facts; good stories speak to us about universal, relatable experiences, but from diverse and challenging perspectives.

AUPE is celebrating its centennial in 2019, and has launched a made-in-Alberta web comics series to showcase its own 100 year story.

“We wanted to tell our union’s story from the first meeting in a church basement in 1919 to today,” said Karen Weiers, AUPE Vice-President and chair of the union’s Centennial Committee. “It is the story of ordinary working people who made our province extraordinary through their struggles, their victories, and their solidarity.”

The ‘Illustrating AUPE’ comics were created through collaboration between Alberta-based artists and AUPE staff. The comics are accessible at aupecomics.ca, where readers will also find artist profiles, educational resources, and a forum to share their own stories of union involvement.

“Sharing these stories is only possible because of the hard work of our members, staff, and the amazing artists living right here in Alberta,” said Weiers. “Working people built this province. Their actions are woven into all our lives and everything we do today.

“We are proud to support these local artists, and honoured by the work they’ve done to make this project a reality and tell our members’ stories from the last 100 years.”

There is a lot of ground to cover in those 100 years, and so the comics explore a number of topics including women at work, surviving the Ralph Klein era and standing up to the provincial government, the creation of AUPE’s parent union, the Civil Service Association of Alberta, and more.

But the web comics are about more than celebrating. Like many centennial projects planned for 2019, “Illustrating AUPE” also provides a learning opportunity for members and all Albertans. Each comic ends with links to supplementary resources for further learning, something Weiers believes readers will find valuable.

“We wanted to engage with people first and foremost,” said Weiers. “We know these comics will spark peoples’ interest, and, when they do, readers will find a number of booklets, websites, and other resources to feed their curiosity.”

A limited run of the comics will be printed later this year and will be distributed at a number of upcoming events celebrating AUPE’s centennial. For more information about AUPE’s centennial, visit AUPE's centennial website.

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