Edmonton, North America’s northernmost city is known, rather creatively, as the ‘Gateway to the North’. Back in the 1940s, the city was also dubbed ‘Oil Capital of Canada’, given the Alberta region’s enormous oil and gas reserves—second only to Saudi Arabia’s. These days, while oil and gas and their myriad satellite industries remain of significant economic importance, Edmonton also boasts a thriving technology sector, notably biotech and nanotech. Being an outpost of civilization has not diminished Edmonton’s ambition to be a world-class city; it houses North America’s largest shopping mall (indeed, one of the largest in the world) and as a testing ground for many US retailers, is often ahead of the rest of the world on new brands and trends. Space is not an issue in Edmonton. Famous for its ‘Ribbon of Green’, Edmonton has the longest stretch of connected urban parkland in North America. In total, it boasts a whopping 111 km2 (27,400 acres) of parkland—more green space per capita than any other Canadian city. Edmonton’s thriving economy (it currently has the lowest unemployment rate in Canada) vibrant quality of life, reputation for great schools and its easy pace make living way up north a breeze. What is special or unique about your city? Edmonton is a city that offers visitors many choices for indoor and outdoor activities all year round. Discover new sights along with tried and true visitor favorites such as shopping, sports, arts and culture, dining, recreation and a wide variety of world-class attractions. Known as Canada's Festival City, Edmonton's calendar is full of annual events and festivals celebrating jazz, folk, symphony, theatre, dance, visual arts, street performers, food and fun for every member of the family. Choose from dozens of theatres and art galleries, wander throughout a spectacular river valley or stroll through eclectic historic districts. What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city? People from across Canada and around the world have made Edmonton their home, and our communities reflect a remarkable realm of diversity. The energetic economy will attract you, but the city's biggest draw is its hidden and not-so-hidden charms. Are these impressions likely to change? If you decide to move to Alberta you can count on the hospitality of Albertans, who are friendly and very supportive of newcomers. Alberta provides a lot of programs to help new immigrants start a new life. Our province is multicultural and has a number of established cultural and ethnic groups. They provide support and assistance to newcomers and make them feel welcomed and at home. What is the local language? English is the dominant language of Edmonton. However, as both English and French are the official languages of Canada, all federal government services are available in either language. How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language? It is possible to live in Edmonton and not know English, but you will find that majority of service providers and retailers speak English. It is recommended that you learn some basic English to avoid major challenges as well as be able to take advantage of everything that Edmonton has to offer. Weekly and daily newspapers are published in a variety of languages, and OMNI (local television station/channels) offer programs, news broadcasts and movies for different ethnic groups in their native languages. The Government of Canada provides free information in English, French and may also provide information in your own language. If you are traveling in other areas of Canada, here are a few French words and/or phrases to help you: English French Hello or Good Morning Bonjour Goodbye Au revoir How are you? Comment allez vouz? My name is… Je m'appelle… Thank you Merci No, thank you Non, merci Excuse me Veuillez m’excuser What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city? The best way to avoid offending residents of Edmonton is to abide by the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission. This is the provincial law that provides everyone with equal rights and opportunities in specific areas such as jobs, housing and services. Please see the Useful Links below for further information on this law. Some tips to avoid offending residents of Edmonton are: Canadians usually hope that visitors will recognize how different their country is from the United States Canadians quickly move to a first-name basis, although you should wait until you have been invited to do so The order for Canadian names is first name, middle name and last name A firm handshake makes a very good first impression Keep a distance of several feet when talking to another person. Canadians like their personal space Do not show emotion in public It is okay to use the 'O.K.' sign and the 'thumbs up' sign, but the 'V' sign with the palm inward and pointing with your index finger are considered offensive Holding doors open for the person behind you is appreciated and often expected Being punctual should be a priority especially for business-related meetings. However, being 15 minutes late (and no later) for an evening social engagement is acceptable Some professions allow for casual dress, but if you are not sure then dress on the formal side Canadians in general do not wear any type of scent in a business setting. Perfume, aftershave and heavily scented personal care products such as shampoo and hair spray should be avoided It is considered rude to speak in a foreign language in the presence of others who do not understand what is being said If you see someone you know at a distance, a wave is an appropriate acknowledgement People using ATM machines expect the next person waiting in line to stand a few feet behind them. In Alberta, the Smoke-Free Places Act was passed on May 10, 2005 and became law on January 1, 2006. In its amended form, the act restricts smoking in any public place and workplace where minors are allowed. With the exception of the streets, you will find that smoking is restricted in most public places. In private homes, you should always ask permission from your host. How might the local weather affect my daily life? Summer temperatures in Edmonton are warm enough to enjoy the sunshine but not so warm that they are uncomfortable. There is virtually no humidity in the area which ensures a pleasant heat, even during the warmest months of July and August. The average high temperature for these months is 22°C (72°F), with temperatures overnight dropping to 12°C (52°F). In Autumn, although the nights can get chilly at this time (6°C or 43°F in Sept., 0°C or 32°F in Oct., the days are still temperate (17°C or 63°F in September, 11°C or 52°F in October). The beautiful changing colors of the trees in the area compensate for any night time weather discomfort. Winter arrives in the area relatively early in the year, with the first frost hitting the ground overnight in late September. Snow begins sticking on the ground as early as the end of October or beginning of November. It gets increasingly cold through the end of February and the snow stays on the ground until April. This may be good news for skiers who say that the best thing about the area is that the several months of thick snowfall are accompanied by sunny winter days. Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people? Edmonton is a city that offers people an abundance of services, community activities, and attractive accommodation. We are the capital city in the province of Alberta, and the Alberta provincial government operates in Edmonton at the Alberta Legislature building. Edmonton is also home to the world's largest shopping mall, West Edmonton Mall. Here you can also visit the largest indoor amusement park called Galaxyland, and experience 25 thrilling rides and attractions. For hockey fans, the Edmonton Oilers are our own National Hockey League team with five Stanley Cup trophies under their belt. There are always games to attend in this sports city, including soccer, baseball, football (North American), lacrosse, rugby and a wide variety of community sport leagues.