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Of late, many people have spoken of 'tradition' as the rote and mindless repetition of old customs and practices. In this view, tradition is obsolete and not relevant to present-day concerns. Tradition has been described as "giving the vote to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors." This implies that tradition is the inheritance of experience, thought and custom that comes to us from previous generations. While each new generation adapts and shapes tradition in its own way, it does build on this past experience.

Alberta is an exciting place to study the practice of tradition. With the important exception of First Nations, many of Albertans have faced reestablishing tradition in a new setting, without the institutions and immediate presence of their 'ancestors'. Having come from places where they may have shared certain practices and understandings about life, this common bond may not exist with fellow citizens.

As a result, the bond with homelands can be important to many individuals and communities as part of their lives in Alberta. Arriving in Alberta, they faced both the challenges and opportunities of 'cultivating' a meaningful life here. For many, it has meant living without the presence of extended family or the familiar languages, practices and customs that enrich and give meaning to human lives.

Often, the response is to create organizations where these aspects of culture can be fostered and adapted in the new society. So an important part of the self-understanding of many Albertans is the initial absence of people and things that are important bearers of tradition and cultural meaning. Equally, an important aspect of Alberta's history is translating these meaningful practices and expression into a new land.

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