28 Years Old
Class of 2020
“I have always felt that art showcases the world through a lens that looks beyond what we can or have already achieved in reality. It has the power to show us what a more inclusive world would look like.”
Luay Eljamal is one of the most creative humans, and in the Wood Buffalo region, his works are on multiple platforms in everything relating to arts and culture.
Born in Dubai to Lebanese parents, Luay spent his childhood growing up in Fort McMurray enrolled in Thickwood Heights School. When first arriving with his family, he wasn’t entirely sure of the life he would build for himself. His mother worked for Syncrude as a Senior Leadership Development Specialist and his father for Keyano College as a Chief Information Officer, and Director of Learning Innovation.
One of his earliest memories was the difference in temperatures. “Going from plus forty to minus forty degrees in weather was equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking. As with most newcomers to Canada, I spent my first few years in Wood Buffalo trying to find my place. This is when I got involved in the Fort McMurray theatre community,” he said.
After graduating from Westwood Community High School, he left to pursue studies in universities across the globe. To say he’s well-accomplished is an understatement, as his list of credentials is not only long; it is impressive.
The list includes: a Master of Arts in Contemporary Performance Making from Brunel University London, a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta, as well as a Project Management Certificate from the University of California, Irvine.
Since 2004, Luay has made a name for himself in the local arts and culture scene. Currently, he is the Programs Manager for Arts Council Wood Buffalo (ACWB) & Founder of Symmetree Theatre. Before this, he worked as the Programs & Communications Manager for the Multicultural Association of Wood Buffalo (MCA).
In 2019, he wrote and directed “Freeing Heaven’s Secrets”, an immersive theatrical experience for cross-cultural audiences. The play followed a young blind girl on her deathbed, who promises her father she will visit him in his dreams and tell him what her heaven is like. On her journey to the other side, she passes her blindness onto the audience, inviting them to experience her heaven the way she experienced our Earth.
In 2020, Luay was recognized in the community for his work on the ACWB 2020 Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards virtual event, which included recognizing 85 artists in 14 artistic disciplines for their efforts in the community. This project culminated with a two-hour cinematic experience for recipients and viewers from across the country.
In his time with the MCA, he managed numerous programs and services including Multicultural Cookery, Financial Literacy, and Cultural Awareness Training, Cultural Equity Building, and the Welcome Centre. He also developed their English Language Learning Assistance (ELLA) program with 18 local elementary and high schools, providing over 150 newcomer students with free one-on-one language support, which increased their English literacy skills, and helped to further integrate them into our community.
Luay sat on the boards of the Friends of the Suncor Energy Centre for the Performing Arts, Newcomer Interagency Network Steering Committee, Arts Recovery Working Group, and was an Expert Panel Juror for the Alberta Foundation of the Arts. All this showcases his passion for intertwining the worlds of diversity, inclusion and the arts.
“Growing up, I went to an international school made up of students from ninety-nine different nationalities. Diversity was valued as an asset, not a barrier. This inspired my passion to advocate for diversity and inclusion in my art and work,” Luay said.
“To work in the arts has been a dream. I have always felt that art showcases the world through a lens that looks beyond what we can or have already achieved in reality. It has the power to show us what a more inclusive world would look like, and inspires audiences to work towards achieving and celebrating these ideals.”