Editor’s Note

From arts to politics

All the world’s a stage for these dynamic locals

By Melinda Marks, editor-in-chief


One of the top stories of the past year had to be how rookie member of Parliament Bardish Chagger zoomed from backbencher to minister of small business and tourism, and then Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.
It has been a meteoric rise for the 36-year-old who is seen as part of a new era in Canadian politics.

How will she do as the voice of the government when the prime minister is not on Parliament Hill? The answer may be reflected in how she was raised in this region. John Roe takes a closer look at this remarkable young community leader on page 34.

Another locally born and raised young woman leaping to new heights is Heather Lehan (page 54). A recent graduate of the National Ballet School in Toronto, she has set her sights on landing on some of the world’s biggest stages. Scholarship money is helping fund overseas travel and auditions in Europe for this dancer.

Edwin Outwater, a familiar face in the region, is looking for new challenges (page 26). Hard to believe it has already been 10 years since he arrived on the local music scene to help steer the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony in new directions. But he’s ready to move on and is preparing to guide the symphony through his final concerts at the end of May. He certainly leaves big shoes to fill for the person who follows him.

The symphony is well represented in this issue of Grand. Violinist Lance Ouellette is featured in a story about local couples who decided to get married after being together for a long time (page 48). Oulette and his wife, pianist Justyna Szajna, tied the knot in 2014, 18 years after they first met. What made them take the big leap?

The Japanese art of paper cutting, or kiri-e, has put Mark Yungblut of Waterloo in the international spotlight. His skill and passion, not to mention hours and hours of detailed work, have resulted in clever pieces that delight the eye.

He has studied in Japan and his work has been shown in that country, as well as in China and throughout Ontario. It’s worth taking a look at his art and the painstaking process he goes through to produce it (page 76).

In our Style features (pages 63 and 70), we’re happy to introduce Vanessa Buttinger as our model. A graduate of the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University, she is the current Miss Oktoberfest and thoroughly enjoys the experience of being the public face of our large annual festival.

But if you’re more inclined to kick back with a good travel piece, discover what it’s like to share the Tuscan countryside with TV personality and interior decorator Debbie Travis (page 96).  For many of us, this Italian villa seems like a magical place in the middle of our winter.