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
UNA MACLEAN EVANS
Una was born on March 11, 1926 at Sunnynook, Alberta. After completing high school in Calgary, Una attended Central Collegiate Institute. In 1944, she joined the Canadians Women’s Army Corps and served 18 months at the National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa. After that she studied arts at the University of Manitoba. In 1951, Una returned to Calgary and worked as assistant Secretary for the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.
Una was extremely active in the Liberal Party: she was president of the Alberta Young Liberal Association, secretary of the Young Liberal Federation of Canada, president of the Alberta Women’s Liberal Association, and vice-president of the Liberal Association of Alberta. From 1987 to 1989 she served as president of the Liberal Party of Canada in Alberta. Una ran for the Liberals federally in four elections, but didn’t win. She continued to be a significant player in the Liberal party for most of her life.
After Una’s first unsuccessful attempt at a winning a seat in the 1957 federal election, she went to work for the Glenbow Foundation as a research historian. In April 1962, Una married Arther Evans, a newspaper columnist, and they moved to Edmonton.
Una raised eyebrows in the community after being elected to city council with two young children at home. Female councillors were still a relatively new concept, and her predecessors didn’t have young children while holding office. Una further made history by being the first Edmonton Alderman to have a baby while in office, three years after she was first elected.
Una was instrumental in several major initiatives on Edmonton City Council, including establishing the LRT network, protecting large sections of Edmonton’s river valley as parkland, as well as securing the Commonwealth Games in 1978.
Una was active on many boards including the district Auxiliary Hospital Board, the Power Committee and Development Appeal Board. She was also a member of the Board of Governors for the CBC. She taught an urban politics course at Grant MacEwan College starting in 1974. In 1976, Una became a citizenship judge for Northern Alberta.
Una passed away in February 2015 at the age of 88.
Sources: Edmonton Journal; City of Edmonton Archives; Glenbow Library and Archives