Canada Writes '07

Finalists: Alberta


Amy Neufeld


I’ve noticed a new trend that I find VERY disturbing. Quite frequently when I am in communal washrooms, I hear that my stall neighbours are on the phone. What is that about? The other day a woman next to me answered her phone, then asked who was calling, and proceeded to have a business call ON THE TOILET!

Am I really old-fashioned? I just don’t think any calls are so important that they need to be made or taken when nature is calling. Sure, I know the bathroom stall has always been a refuge for women in crisis looking for a private place to shed some tears or spill her guts, but I assure you, these are not those kinds of calls.

Are the men doing this too? Is talking on your phone at the urinal now common-place? I would think the mechanics might be slightly more difficult, but perhaps men are overcoming those odds and joining women as they place and receive calls in the washroom.

Please stop. I find this disturbing. Wait until you’re at least at the sink. It’s really the classy thing to do.


Head-shot of Amy Neufeld

Amy Neufeld has a BA in English from Wilfrid Laurier University, and a Diploma in Theatre Arts from Grant MacEwan College. As well as working as an administrator at Grant MacEwan, Amy also teaches drama to children at the Citadel Theatre, and has written several plays for them to perform. She has also written a one-act play (Vigilante Soccer Mom) which was produced at NextFest in 2006. To keep her press release writing skills finely tuned, Amy helps with marketing for the sketch comedy troupe Mostly Water Theatre. Amy thinks that bikes are the best form of transportation, and likes autumn because of big sweaters and crunchy leaves.


Arlene Johnson


There’s a growing trend among wedding parties to extend “fractured” invitations. The guest has to read the fine print carefully to figure out where he/she stands in the happy couple’s social circle. The lucky recipient might be invited to (a) the wedding, but not the dinner; (b) the reception, but not the wedding or dinner; or the worst one, (c) ALL of the festivities EXCEPT the one that costs the couple money, which is the dinner.

Now, I realize that catering is a huge chunk of the wedding financial package. I myself am in the middle of planning my own, and vats of Kraft Dinner are looking good. However, back when I did this the first time, it was standard practice to only invite as many people as you could comfortably feed.

“Well, everyone else is doing it that way.” So that makes it okay? How did or would you feel getting one of these invitations? I know how I felt, and I didn’t grace the ceremony with my presence. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the height of social rudeness to invite hundreds of people “to watch”, and then cut them loose to eat at A & W.


Arlene Johnson (aka Arlie MacGregor) lives in Edmonton, Alberta and has been writing for approx. 5 years. Her works have spanned various genres and she has been published in a variety of magazines and ezines, including Firefighting in Canada and Highway Star. More can be viewed @

Alex McCuaig


Jungle Revisited

A young family flees a war-torn Sudan in search of peace, safety and a future and find themselves in small town Alberta working at one of the biggest meatpacking plants in North America. Labour strife soon follows the family’s arrival as a union attempts to establish itself to improve working and living conditions.

The father is faced with the conflict of either crossing the line so he can send money to his extended family back home that is rapidly becoming destitute or walking the picket alongside the community that helped him, his wife and children.

The story would follow similar social issues as Upton Sinclair’s groundbreaking novel, “The Jungle”, but put in a contemporary context using Sudanese characters in Brooks, Alberta instead of Lithuanians in Chicago.

Timely and relevant real-life issues, from both immigrants and established citizens faced with rapid change, will challenge viewers’ stereotypes of both sides while delving into the core of what it means to be Canadian.


I’m currently a news photographer and reporter for the Brooks Bulletin, covering the crime, agriculture and county council beats. I have also been covering many events and people in the city’s immigrant community. I grew up in Calgary—which I consider my hometown—but I was born in Windsor, Ontario. I moved quite often—the first time being at three days old—and have lived in Toronto, Victoria, Houston, Glasgow and London, UK. I was a bicycle messenger for several years in London and then back in Calgary. I was dismissed from that job two years ago but was given an opportunity to pursue a journalism career at Humber College in Toronto. I left school early to work at the Bulletin where I’ve been gainfully employed for the last six months. I’m 35-years-old, single and have a dog named Honey.

Thanks to the judges!

Christopher Heatherington is creative director of Wonder Communications in Calgary.

Robert Cuffley is a screenwriter and film director, also from Calgary. His latest film, Walk all over me, recently played at the Toronto and Calgary film festivals.

How it works!

1. October 1st to October 12th

We have received your submissions in the following categories:

Thank you!

2. Auditions are over. Five finalists have been chosen!

Now they’ll head to Toronto for the taping of Canada Writes with Jian Ghomeshi. They’ll have to compete with each other—and the clock—to impress the three judges.

3. Listen to Canada Writes, the radio show, and visit Canada Writes on-line beginning November 20th...

Writing skills—and nerves—will be put to the test as contestants get one hour to complete each writing challenge. They’ll have to be versatile too. Each challenge is in a different Canada Writes category. But the moment of truth is in the delivery: the contestants will have to impress the judges with their read to stay in the game!

You can take the same timed challenges right here at AND vote for (and win) a People’s Choice Award for on-line entries.

Words At Large