Ed Kamps: A Citizen to Emulate
Ed Kamps left Wood Buffalo much better than he found it.
Many of the organizations Kamps seeded and nurtured over the past 25 years are flourishing today in Wood Buffalo. He is a community builder and networker who works quietly and informally to put teams and agencies in good working order.
Becoming Canadian in Wood Buffalo: This article is part of a series of stories, profiles, photographic essays, blogs and videos documenting the journey undertaken by newcomers to our region.
Becoming Canadian in Wood Buffalo
But Kamps is seldom in the spotlight himself.
Ed Kamps and his family landed in Wood Buffalo in 1990 with a three-year plan.
“We weren’t sure what to expect,” Kamps explains. “We settled in and the next thing you knew, we were feeling quite at home.”
His community involvement has been extensive. Before leaving Fort McMurray for Calgary this March to become the Human Resources director for the non-profit organization Momentum, Kamps held numerous non-profit positions:
- Chair, Nonprofit Sector Link (an umbrella group providing advocacy and capacity-building for the nonprofit sector in the region)
- Project Manager, Fort McMurray United Way
- Chair, Fort McMurray Public Library Board
- Chair, Leadership Wood Buffalo
- Chair, Fort McMurray Citizenship Committee
- President, Multicultural Association of Wood Buffalo
Wood Buffalo has recognized his dedication and volunteer efforts by awarding him the 2008 Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Distinguished Citizen Award and the 2013 Heart of Wood Buffalo Nonprofit Leadership Award.
Sana Elache, a senior leadership development specialist with Syncrude, worked with Kamps at Leadership Wood Buffalo. She knows him well — so well that she recommended him for the Social Prosperity Leadership Heart of Wood Buffalo Award last year.
In making her nomination, Elache told the award selection committee:
“I met Ed in 2006 when he was forming the Leadership Wood Buffalo Board of Directors. He struck me as an informal leader with a humble facilitative style that encourages engagement, progressive input and innovation from all board members…
“Leadership Wood Buffalo was only one of the many initiatives Ed had started in town but one that I can speak very fondly of his role in to-date. Ed moved on to start a whole new organization: Not for Profit Sector Link and most recently is chairing the Multicultural Association.
“I have also assisted Ed in facilitating New Canadian Citizens conversations and providing a Key Note. Ed had coordinated those conversations for several years instilling pride and creating quite a memorable experience for all participants. This was an amazing project whose impact is hard to measure but everyone there could certainly touch and feel the impact…
“It was an honor for me to meet, report to and volunteer with Ed for the last eight years. I couldn’t have connected with a better citizen to model the ideal community-minded Canadian for the recent Canadian that I am…”
Kamps fostered and facilitated citizenship processes and protocols in Wood Buffalo.
“Our citizenship committee wanted to enhance the citizenship ceremonies and process,” he says. “In addition to the usual ceremony we instituted a community engagement piece. We connect local community members with new citizens in round table discussions. The dialogue between locals and new citizens can be an eye opener. Community members get to hear various perspectives from new citizens, including what brought them to Canada and their experiences since arriving. Then, after the round table segment, there’s the ceremony event and reception.”
The Multicultural Association now hosts the receptions for several citizenship events held each year.
Being president of the board of the Multicultural Association gave Kamps a greater perspective on what newcomers to the region need to live, work, play and stay here.
“The main reason people come to Wood Buffalo is for opportunity,” Kamps says. “They come to better themselves, but also to provide a future for their kids. They want to establish themselves and once they do, they often get engaged in a whole range of community activities.”
“The three major challenges facing newcomers are finding affordable housing, enrolling their children in school, and learning about the community,” he says. “An additional challenge for immigrants is figuring out some of our customs and what we do differently. For kids, it’s easier. They make friends at school and they just want to play and have fun.”
Interviewed in Calgary in June, bigspirit.ca asked Kamps about the things he misses the most about Wood Buffalo.
“Not the mosquitoes,” is his immediate response.
“It’s such a dynamic place,” he continues. “In Wood Buffalo there is such a spirit of adventure, which expresses itself in people getting engaged in the community. There are so many opportunities to get to know people and work with them. It’s the people that you miss.”
And Ed Kamps is missed.