One Year Into COVID-19 It’s not every day that you start a new job and then immediately have to close down the office indefinitely and send everyone home amidst a once-in-a-century pandemic. But that was my whirlwind experience when I joined YWCA Edmonton as our new CEO one year ago today. I hadn’t even met most of our staff yet before making that difficult decision after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mandated an historic stay-at-home order
ETHEL SYBIL (KNIGHT) WILSON
Born on a farm near Sunnyside in 1902, Ethel moved to Edmonton in 1925. Ethel was widowed young, left with 3 small children to provide for after her husband died. Forced to work, she got a job as a seamstress with Burns Meats Ltd., where she worked for 25 years.
While still doing her seamstress work, Ethel ran for Edmonton City Council. Unsuccessful in her first attempt, Ethel won a seat in the next election and was re-elected for six subsequent terms. She retired from council in 1966.
Ethel remained on council while she also held office in the provincial government. Ethel was an MLA for Edmonton North from 1959 to 1971. In 1962, Ethel retired from her seamstress job when she was named Minister without Portfolio, a government position she held for nine years.
As a cabinet minister, Ethel led the development of Hilltop House in 1965, a hostel facility for needy women. She also pioneered a family aid program for persons with handicapped children and the annual Alberta Girls Parliament. Ethel served on the boards of the Edmonton Public Library, Royal Alexandra Hospital, Health Board, Recreation Commission, Greater Edmonton Foundation, and the Business and Professional Women’s Club.
Ethel died on December 8, 1983 at the age of 81.
Source: Edmonton Journal December 9, 1986; Canadian Parliamentary Guide, 1971