Young funeral director loves to plan celebrations of life

26-year-old excited by her work 

Stokotelny keepsake boxOne of Calgary's youngest funeral directors acknowledges her profession isn't one many would aspire to, yet the 26-year-old knew it was her destiny to work with people who had died and their mourning families.

Samantha Stokotelny is passionate about the work she's been doing for eight years. Her age still surprises some of her clients at Eden Brook Memorial Gardens & Funeral Home.

"People are just very shocked. They have a very hard time right off the bat understanding why I would want to become a funeral director. But I am proud of what I do and I embrace table conversation."

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Genital piercing: what’s weird about it?

A glimpse into one Calgarian's unique profession

Ritchie GenitalPiercingHaving your genitals pierced may seem like an unorthodox idea to some, but for one Calgary professional, this process is just another part of her daily routine.

Nia Kulbaba, head piercer and manager at Tribal Expression, comes face to pelvis with one genital piercing a day on average. For her, this occurrence is typical, at least no less than any other modification she conducts day-to-day.

"After eight years it's nice to do something other than a bellybutton ring, and when you can actually help people feel more confident in the bedroom, that's something that's really important," says Kulbaba. "I think everybody should feel that way and love their body. That's what I help people do."

While other little girls in her small, Southern Manitoba hometown grew up wanting to be dancers, actresses, or models, Kulbaba always knew she wanted to do something different.

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#YYCAtWork: Projecting the future

Logan Cameron makes a living off of being a projectionist, but the occupation is going out of style

Projectionist6Logan Cameron is an "accidental projectionist" who came to love film. But now that the medium has gone out of style, he doesn't get to work with film much anymore — although he's convinced it will come back.

Cameron first found himself behind a projector in 2002 after the collapse of the projection union. Due to salary cuts, projectionists citywide began abandoning their jobs.

Hoping to find individuals to run the projectors, managers turned to their existing employees.

"It seemed like all the managers just chose their favorite employees to be projectionists," says local Calgarian, Cameron.

Back then film was the only means to show movies. But that just isn't the case anymore.

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New Mount Royal University head coach Bert Gilling moves from family to pursue dream

Former NCAA hockey Div. 1 assistant coach and player returns to Canada for chance to lead behind the bench

GillingTHMBLFaced with the decision of moving to Canada to pursue his career dream and being separated from his family or stick as an assistant coach, Bert Gilling elected to uproot from Minnesota earlier this year.

The new head coach of the Mount Royal University (MRU) men's hockey team, Bert Gilling, replaced Jean Laforest, who coached the Cougars for six seasons. Currently, MRU sits third in Canada West, just two points out of second behind rival University of Calgary.

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#YYCAtWork: Calgary trapper aids in wildlife conservation

Emily Lamb seeks to educate about benefits of trapping

Emily thumbnailPeople who don't understand trapping, often assume that trappers are nothing more than animal killers. However, Emily Lamb is very passionate about wildlife, and sees trapping not only as a living, but also as a conservation effort.

Lamb's passion for wildlife sparked at a young age when she grew up on her family's farm.

"We were not wealthy people, by any means. Everybody had to share the workload, and I really liked doing that kind of stuff. I loved going out and feeding the cows and the chickens. I was outside all the time."

At the age of 21, Lamb received her diploma in Wildlife and Forestry Conservation and began an internship working with a non-profit wildlife rescue. Through her time with them she became curious about hunting and trapping.

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#YYCAtWork: Student struggles to balance life, work and studies

The unique lifestyle of a university student and the struggle of balancing school, work, and life all at the same time

Sarah BrownAs a marketing student at the University of Lethbridge, Sarah Brown provides insight into an unusual lifestyle of juggling multiple jobs while dealing with the mounting stress of the full-time student experience.

Brown worked multiple jobs over the past few years to support herself through school, from security at a nightclub, to sales at a clothing store and working at a deli counter.

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#YYCAtWork: Pastor’s peaceful struggles

Hockey past fought against Mennonite peaceful teachings

Mennonite Pastor Doug KlassenThe Mennonite community preaches peace but Senior Pastor Doug Klassen, 47, has often found it hard to always follow those ideals because he grew up a hockey player with fighting tendencies.

Klassen has been a pastor at Foothills Mennonite Church for 16 years and a Senior Pastor since 2000. He explained that leading a life of peace is based on how Jesus lived his life. Many Mennonites fled to North America from Holland after they were pressured into military action.

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#YYCAtWork: Ghost Tours of Calgary

Unique service offers haunted tours through some of Calgary's prominent neighbourhoods

Johanna Lane of Ghost Tours CalgaryJohanna Lane, 49, has done it all. She's been in the military, hypnotized people, overcome adversity and now she runs Ghost Tours Calgary, despite the fact that she is skeptical about the existence of ghosts.

A self-proclaimed "base brat," Lane's early life was spent living on various military bases ranging from Halifax, N.S. to Esquimalt, B.C.. Lane eventually ended up working in the military for five years as an air weapons specialist.

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#YYCAtWork: Calgary artist finds release through extreme art

A tough life made easy through suspension

suspension thumbnail1Valon Oddity has experienced emotional pain throughout his life but through piercing and suspension, he says he has transcended into a way of living.

Remembering his childhood, he says, "Growing up I guess I was a bit of a loner... " Oddity also says he was allegedly abused.

He would eventually get into an alternative lifestyle of body piercings, tattoos, scarification and body suspension. A suspension happens when a suspension artist pierces an area on the body and inserts hooks in order to lift the person into the air.

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#YYCAtWork: Controlling the wild

Living in a wildlife wonderland

BillAbercrombieImage thumbnailBill Abercrombie's love of animals and the outdoors led him to becoming an animal control expert. But sometimes he has clients that want him to do a lot more than just control their animal problems.

Abercrombie's love for the outdoors started at a very young age. He says he just wanted to "spend a lot of time in the bush with wildlife."

"I had an uncle who was a homesteader and trapper up in Peace River country. His story had a big influence on me."

That led him to his own life working outdoors as a trapper, slowly moving into setting up his own business — Animal Damage Control. The biggest obstacle for him was the changeover from his life's passion, into a career.

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#YYCAtWork: Furry farewell

Pet cremation a respectful way to say goodbye

jobs stasiewich cremator EDthumbSelf-proclaimed pet lover, Art Magega, has pioneered a method to respect and honour pets who have died in Western Canada. Now Magega is still helping Calgary pet owners through the grief of a lost family member.

Magega came up with the idea in 1979, of selling cremation equipment to the Calgary Humane Society in order to address the growing problem of what to do with the remains of deceased pets.

Growing up with pets all his life, Magega thought cremation was a great way to honour the memory of a very important family member. 

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#YYCAtWork: The art of worship

Christian dance instructor connects two great passions in the studio

jobs holloway dancer EDthumbDance and faith are intertwined for Rachel Cheung. Two expressions not commonly seen together, but it’s a connection Cheung follows as an instructor at The Arts Abbey, a Calgary dance studio that operates on a foundation of Christianity.

Cheung fell in love with dance the minute she started at four-years-old. Now 24, it’s still one of her greatest passions. She even makes time for it despite working another job at a real-estate company and being involved in charity efforts.

“I just remember always, always being happy when I danced,” Cheung said. “When I’m dancing, I just have this huge smile on my face, and that’s how it’s always been.” 

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#YYCAtWork: A success story in self-directed learning

Local fabricator breaking into the world of set design on his own terms

jobs brak robots EDthumbDespite having no technical training, Shannon Chappell has been using self-taught skills to make robotic set pieces and costumes that push the boundaries of his skills both as a builder and an artist.

In a somewhat claustrophobic workshop, nestled unassumingly in the basement of a hotel along Macleod Trail sits Chappell’s workshop, Infernal Studios. Chappell, originally a photographer, learned the basics of computer aided design and custom fabrication without the aid of a textbook or the guidance of a teacher.

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#YYCAtWork: For the love of dolls

A long lost art survives 70 years later

jobs yohannes dolls EDthumbDoreen Harrold lost her entire porcelain doll collection as a child during the Blitz. But more than 70 years later, she's building a similar collection for others just outside of Airdrie, using an almost time-lost art. 

“I had quite the collection,” Harrold said, remembering the dolls from when she was 12. “Two Shirley temples, three German dolls, quite big ones, and some smaller ones.”

But in April of 1942 — when Harrold lived in Norwich, England — her house was destroyed by air raids during World War II. 

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#YYCAtWork: Stuffing his business full of life

Taxidermist opens up about the art of reviving lost pets

JOBS lima taxidermist thumbRuss Wright had always wanted his own taxidermy shop. But after opening and then closing one when he was younger, Wright has finally found success in his retirement.

Wright traces his love of taxidermy back to his childhood, when he was first introduced to it by his father.

“My dad took me hunting when I was a kid, I started hunting when I was 14-years-old,” Wright said. “I always loved looking at different pieces of work…and hunting shops and that, I was always intrigued by it.”

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#YYCAtWork: Becoming a wedding planner

Organizing marriages for high profile clients

Young-at-DeskWhen most people are 15, they are thinking about whom they want to marry, not about planning other people’s weddings. For Julianne Young, it was just the opposite. Young was thinking about being a wedding planner, something she now does for high profile clients.

Her first wedding memory was her sister’s wedding when she was 12.

“I just remember being so overwhelmed with emotion walking down the aisle — as a bridesmaid — and just crying,” she said.

Describing her decision to become a wedding planner in her teens, Young said, “I made a list and I thought, ok, what am I really good at, what do I really love.”

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#YYCAtWork: Local psychic learned to do readings with playing cards

Calgary's sought-out psychic, Sandra Coates

Coates over-the-shoulderthumbGrowing up on a Saskatchewan farm 65 years ago with hardly anything, Sandra Coates was taught how to do more than just play games with a deck of cards. She is now a popular psychic.

In her Arbor Lake apartment, Coates lights the candles on her comfortably cluttered oak table as she recalls how her mother would do the same.

A common night in her childhood home would include her mother playing a mouth-organ instrument while Coates and her four siblings would dance and sing. After, they would settle at the table, read tea-leaves and then play their favorite game: mental telepathy.

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#YYCAtWork: How to make a living in fashion

HeronSittingthumbStacie Lee Heron originally studied fashion design, landing her a career creating clothes for people to wear but not making a lot of money. Recognizing the opportunity for financial gain, she’s had much more success by just dressing and styling individuals in Calgary.

Growing up taking sewing lessons and obsessing over magazines, Heron knew fashion was going to play a role in her career. 

“I’ve been sewing ever since I was little, my mom put me in sewing lessons but I actually hated it.”

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#YYCAtWork: Personal shoppers can help you make a strong first impression

These fashion experts provide guidance and inspiration on styling outfits for any activity

Lauren LarsenthumbDo you have a wardrobe full of clothes but it seems like you have nothing to wear?

Hiring a personal shopper can help get your foot in the right direction for a strong first impression with friends, coworkers or future employers, with one fashionable Calgarian, Wendy McAllister, suggesting you "can't afford not to."

McAllister, founder of an interior design company, says if you ask anyone at her work place, "They would definitely say it's been a dramatic change in how I dress — I feel more confident.

"There is one girl that asks her self — 'I wonder what Wendy would wear' — which is strange to hear. That wouldn't have happened a few years ago."

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#YYCAtWork: Does sleep deprivation risk the work quality of police officers?

Calgary policeman recalls the toll of working tired on the job

Thumbnail OfficerDavisWhen Ted Davis joined the Calgary Police Service as a young man he didn't know anything about the toll it would take on his sleep. He soon realized that he would be expected to continue making arrests despite the impact sleep deprivation would have on his judgment.

Davis, now 65, was a young 19-year-old when he joined the police service in 1970. He knew that he wanted to become a policeman since he was a child and considered it more of a "question of when rather than if."

Even though he was a young man starting his career, Davis was already married and had a young son to think about. With the start of his career, he quickly learned that he would have to start thinking about sleep deprivation.

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