Sunday March 20, 2016

'We were the people who went the wrong way,' says artist on leaving Alberta during the boom

Eric Dyck serves as the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery's cartoonist-in-residence, in early 2016.

Eric Dyck serves as the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery's cartoonist-in-residence, in early 2016. (Kathryn Marlow/CBC)

While Canadians were streaming to Alberta to cash in on the oil boom, Eric Dyck did the opposite: he moved to New Brunswick.

"We were the people who went the wrong way," he says, of he and his wife. 

"Calgary lost its mind, and everything became ridiculously expensive...we had one tax assessment that tripled its assessment of the value of our home, and so were suddenly going to be completely unable, no change in our income situation, but completely unable to stay in the home that we were in."

Eric Dyck's cartoon about racists

As cartoonist-in-residence at the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, Eric Dyck draws cartoons based on what he hears on campus. Not all of it is positive. (The 180)

Dyck is a cartoonist and freelance illustrator, so it was easy to take his work to New Brunswick, while his wife went to school there. But once she got her degree and started looking for work as an instructor, all the jobs she wanted were back in the west, so they packed up and moved home. 

As an artist, Dyck has noticed the change in his province. When times were good, there was lots of money going into arts and culture, and it was easy to get funding. But now, it's different. 

Eric Dyck's cartoon about campus encouragment

A lighter example of Eric Dyck's work. (The 180)

"There's challenges. I know a lot of cultural institutions are reeling from these, you know, sudden philanthropy, in some cases drying up, seeing the oil companies struggle."

But Dyck is still excited by the change, and sees optimism even in tough times: "I'm talking to a lot of people who you might think wouldn't be getting excited about future projects, or might be more despondent, but they're [saying] 'no, I have this great idea, the money will come from somewhere.'"

Click on the blue "play" button above to hear the full interview.