Glynnis Lieb had a long journey to get to Alberta

Glynnis Lieb is a local activist who fights tirelessly and is a voice for the voiceless. She advocates for the rights of workers, members of the LGBTQ2S+ community, the homeless, youth, women, and anyone who has been suppressed and disparaged.

Lieb was born on a little isolated island (an outport) in Newfoundland. She lived there until she was an adolescent, then moved with her mother to rural Manitoba until the end of high school. “Then into Winnipeg for university, because I was bound and determined that I was going to get out of that one-horse town,” Lieb explains with a chuckle. “As soon as I could.”

At the age of 13, under advisement from a guidance counsellor, she determined that psychology was where she belonged. “I thought I was going to be a police officer, but he was like, ‘No, I think you’d be better as a psychologist.’ Because I found people fascinating. So, I looked up what this meant and decided this was the path for me.”

She earned one degree that led into a doctorate in personality and social psychology from the University of Manitoba. While in school, Lieb was working for social services and found a job ad for a two-to-three-year contract managing a project about people’s experiences with Alberta’s legal system. “I was looking from a psychological perspective at people’s interaction with the legal system there, and I thought, ‘I can’t move to Alberta, but that is really interesting,’” Lieb says. Six weeks later, she sold her house and was en route to Edmonton. Eleven years later and she is still here.

“I was managing this project for the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice, which is a national not-for-profit justice watchdog organization,” explains Lieb.

It was a great job, but paid very little. So, she began looking for a side job. A friend of hers from Manitoba told her about Athabasca University. As luck would have it, they were looking for somebody to teach psychology of criminal justice. It fit her perfectly, and she’s been with Athabasca University ever since.

In 2010, the Edmonton chapter of the Learning Disabilities Association offered her an executive director position. Two years later, she fell into an opportunity to manage the legacy project for Lieutenant Governor Donald Ethell. “I ended up interviewing and getting this job, because he was a retired army colonel and he wanted to look at destigmatizing mental illness and addiction,” explains Lieb. It turned into an amazing opportunity for Lieb to do advocacy and public education for the remainder of his term.

Two years later, she became a grant writer for Arts on the Ave, and then became heavily active with her union. “They are all really involved in different social activities and were using the union to do that. I just fell in love.” Lieb got so involved with the union that she spent three years on the Provincial Executive (governing body) for the union. It was also at this time that she began to be politically active.

From there, Lieb began doing outreach for the Alberta Federation of Labour. She also began teaching at MacEwan University and NorQuest College, on top of her teaching commitment at Athabasca University.

In 2015, she moved into Norwood because she was spending so much time at The Carrot Coffeehouse, due to her job with Arts on the Ave. She got involved with Norwood Neighbourhood Association and continued to be part of election campaigns on all levels.

Glynnis Lieb, a Norwood resident, has lived in Edmonton for 11 years. | Stephen Strand

Lieb says she believes in civil disobedience and the push back against those in power, keeping them in check. So, during last year’s postal strike, she showed her support by picketing alongside the postal workers.

Her experiences helped lead Lieb to her current position with the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies & Services, which helps the LGBTQ2S+ community in many capacities.

Her social activism began with the LGBTQ2S+ community in Winnipeg.

“I fell into the queer community in Winnipeg when I moved there. That was my home in Winnipeg,” Lieb explains. “We were in Winnipeg trying to find places to have coffee nights and folks were getting kicked out of restaurants and getting their posters torn down. That was a community that really got me involved in learning how to stand up for other people and myself.” She adds that once you start paying attention to people and taking an active interest, you begin to see the need for justice everywhere.

“It’s on us all to look after each other.”

Featured Image: Glynnis Lieb’s activist work has helped many people. | Stephen Strand