Fort Saskatchewan resident Lana Santana has a full and interesting resume.
Santana grew up and lived in Trinidad and Tobago, the southernmost island country in the Caribbean.
While in her home country, she ran for councilor of her local government and spent some time in journalism. Santana told MIX 107 that she was a freelance writer before landing a job with the Trinidad Guardian and another local newspaper.
"I loved investigative pieces."
Santana's husband was later transferred to Fort Saskatchewan for a job in 2007.
"Initially, we didn't come to stay here. My kids didn't want to go back because they loved their schools, their teachers and Canada."
Coming from a tropical climate, it was ironically the winter her kids fell in love with.
"Most importantly, they love being able to ice skate," Santana chuckled.
However, it wasn't all smooth sailing. Santana admitted moving to Canada was difficult as her family's social life struggled at times and there was much to be learned.
"There were countless things like learning of bottle deposits or that an Alberta Health Care card was necessary," she added.
"A platform to meet"
Santana started the FSMA in 2012. Since then, she's introduced a variety of initiatives and programs for kids, teenagers and families.
"Having an immigrant experience is a world of its own," she commented. "The growth and the acceptance of the program that we provide [is what she's most proud of]."
Schools and communities now reach out for programs, support, and various cultural teachings.
The association works in some capacity with all 44 Elk Island Public Schools and 18 Elk Island Catholic Schools. The lessons range on topics from Black History Month to Indigenous stories.
She says other communities such as Sherwood Park and Bruderheim have recently reached out to work with the association.
Santana is executive director — managing the affairs of the association and all its programs and initiatives.
Author and mother
When Santana isn't helping with the FSMA, you can find her with her family, tending to her garden, or writing.
Santana is working on a novel where the protagonist, an 11-year-old girl, is working to pass the high school entrance exam in Trinidad and Tobago. The story is set in 1975 and follows the girl as she embarks on the test while dealing with an abusive father and the traditions of her culture.
"It's the story of her helping get her family out of poverty."
The novel is currently in its second draft.
The Fort Saskatchewan resident is also working on various children's books.
Santana and her family are all Canadian citizens -- something she's proud to tell those who ask. She has four kids, ages 30, 22, 19, and 13. All of which help in some way, shape, or form help with the association.