The Calgary Journal
The Calgary Journal


When Melvi Alvarado first immigrated to Canada from El Salvador in 2010, he struggled. Speaking a language and practicing a culture different from the people he was suddenly surrounded by made it difficult for Alvarado to feel at home. But this inspired him to create the community he longed to be a part of, leading to the formation of the Calgary Salvadorian Folklore Association.

The thing about death is that no one tells you how to do it. Walking amidst the memory-filled walls of my recently passed grandpa's two-storey house, I fastened neon pink sticky notes to the things I wanted to claim. With 2,200 square feet and 40 years worth of stuff to go through, it was a project for the whole family, out of towners included. When I first heard of the sticky note plan, I pictured an American Black Friday style battle, but in reality, it was a civil experience resulting in no major arguments. In a unique test of self-control, I found that rather than taking absolutely everything that could one day serve me, I was selective with my sticky note placement, choosing a gold-rimmed mid-century style mirror, along with a couple of other small things: an engraved silver serving tray, and a couple of photographs.

It was months after she got diagnosed with cancer that she was hit with the shocking reality of it all.

Sitting in the hospital waiting room where she would get radiation, Carmelina Baccari looked around at all the sick people with different types of cancer. And for the first time, it hit her like a ton of bricks.

I got my first tattoo when I turned 18. I did all of my research about locations, artists, how much it might hurt and how to properly take care of them. I was prepared. Each time I got a tattoo I was prepared. I now have four, each with their own meanings and place in my heart.

My latest tattoo, and by far my biggest one and the one I love the most, is for my grandmother. I have known for a long time that I wish to fill my left leg with tattoos representing my family members. I didn’t expect to begin this project so soon, joining those who find the painful process of getting a commemorative tattoo as a way to heal from emotional pain.