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Eda (Matiisen) McClung

Eda McClung continues to be active in Alberta\'s Estonian community. She  publishes AjaKaja, the highly acclaimed magazine/newsletter started by the Edmonton Estonian Society and continued by the Alberta Estonian Heritage Society. Eda Matiisen McClung was born in 1943 in Tallinn, Estonia. She is the daughter of Voldemar (Volli) and Rita Matiisen. In 1944 her parents along with their sons Hendo and Arne, fled to Sweden to escape Soviet occupation. Eventually both parents were able to re-establish themselves professionally; her father as a forester with a specialty in reforestation and her mother as a dentist in the state-run health system.

Continuing political uncertainty in Europe convinced the family to emigrate to the Eckville/Gilby area of central Alberta in 1948. Volli's two brothers, Alfred and Arnold, had been farming there since the 1930s and sponsored the family. Rita and Volli bought a small farm nearby and began learning new skills and a new language. The older son Hendo soon left home to attend high school in Red Deer. Arne started in grade four at the Estonian School and Eda began grade one at the local Andrew School.

Eda completed school in 1962 in Eckville. Like her brothers before her, she attended the University of Alberta. She graduated with a Masters degree in Counselling Psychology. This accomplishment led to a career in Adult Psychiatry at the University Hospital. In 1973 she married John Wesley McClung and they made their home in Edmonton. He was appointed a judge in 1976 while Eda continued her career as a psychologist. They led busy professional lives and enjoyed extensive travel. Careful documentation of local Estonian history by her father, renewed Eda's interest in the community where she grew up. Her father passed away in 1980 before his contribution could be fully appreciated.

In 1989 Eda accompanied her mother Rita and brother Arne, along with his wife Carolyn, to Estonia to celebrate their mother's 80th birthday. Her first trip to Estonia meant meeting relatives and visiting places of family lore. The possibility of independence was on the horizon and Estonians living abroad took action. As a result, the Edmonton Estonian Society showed renewed energy and Eda became its president in 1988. During her presidency, EES began publishing a small newsletter AjaKaja with Mare Maxwell as editor while Eda McClung and Viivi Rita Piil served as assistants.

Eda McClung, Bob Tipman and Toomas Paasuke were key organizers in the Stettler Centennial celebration in 1999. The event generated much enthusiasm for one's roots and interest in Estonian pioneer history. As a result, subsequent centennials were held in Gilby and Barons. In 2004, the Estonian Central Committee awarded Eda the Medal of Merit for notable long-term work on behalf of Estonia and Estonians in Canada.

Eda McClung addresses the Estonian Independence Day gathering at the Highlands Golf Club in 2002. Estonian Charge d\'Affaires Sulev Roostar from Ottawa and  Chief Justice of the Court of Queen\'s Bench of Alberta were guest speakers. In 2005, the province-wide Alberta Estonian Heritage Society was formed. Eda serves on its Board and is active in several projects including the 2007 production of the DVD "Alberta's Estonians." She has also largely contributed to a website project completed by the Heritage Community Foundation; the website is entitled "Alberta's Estonian Heritage." Eda remains active in publishing AjaKaja, the official newsletter of the Alberta Estonian Heritage Society. It is currently printing its 28th edition. She takes immense pride and joy in her two nieces Janet and Melanie who have traveled to Estonia with her and who have come to treasure their Estonian heritage.

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