Tofino Profile: Myra LeBlanc
by Shirley Langer
Talking to Myra LeBlanc about work and life in general, the expression "working
on the front lines" comes up frequently. She loves being among
people, problem solving, actively communicating. No shrinking violet,
this woman. Myra gives 100%, as a mother, as a friend, as Tofino's
Myra arrived in our midst in April 1998 from Skidegate in the Charlottes.
For thirteen years she had worked as a postal clerk in Queen Charlotte
City. Following her Haida husband's death, she felt she had to
see more of the world, be less isolated, so she competed for her present
job. "We Tofino-ites are the lucky winners," I suggest.
Modestly, she admits to lots of positive feedback, to people telling
her, "You've made a difference here, Myra." Proof
of this is a plaque hanging in the post office acknowledging the staff
placed among Canada Post's top three in 2003 for the British
Columbia "Team of the Year" award. First Nations people
let Myra know that it's comforting to come into a place where
a person with First Nation links is working, Myra's family being
part Mic Mac, part French Acadian.
I want to know what relieves the constant pressure of getting the
never-ending job done at the post office. Myra has told me that dealing
mail for 600 people on General Delivery alone is demanding. "Sometimes," she
says, "people are waiting right at their box, and grab the mail
right out of the postal clerk's hand." Myra can dish out
a few surprises herself. When she sees friends come in, she sticks
her closed hand right in their box, and when they open she makes her
hand do a Boo! Then she relates an anecdote, which demonstrates Myra's
sense of humour and sympathetic way.
"Alf Jensen was in Mexico some time back. He sent a postcard, care of
General Delivery, to "Clementine", an eagle that was a
regular visitor to his home. I remember looking at that postcard and
thinking, 'Only in Tofino do eagles get postcards!' " Some
time later when Alf was recovering from an illness, Myra acted as personal
correspondent for "Clementine", carrying on a correspondence
with Alf for a year. An account of this whimsical correspondence appeared
in Pacific Express, the Canada Post newsletter.
Though I know that Myra is well integrated into Tofino life, I ask
her if she misses the Charlottes. "What I miss are the family
and friends I still have there. Skidegate is a tight-knit village.
It will always be home to me. And I miss the constant supply of sockeye
and crab, because my husband was a fisherman." I kid her about
leaving the Charlottes to be less isolated, Tofino not being exactly
a Mecca at the center of the world. "Ah," she replies, "but
I go out-of-town at least every other weekend, because I can!"
A few questions later, I find out the Myra is an accomplished cook
with a lot of experience. In fact, it's possible you could find
yourself around Myra's dining table in the company of one or
more of Tofino's finest chefs. I ask if there was anything she
had dreamed of becoming. I had a hunch, because I knew about Myra's
amazing professional performer sister, whose photo doing her Tina Turner
impersonation has yet to be taped up somewhere in the newly renovated
post office. "A musician," is her immediate reply, confirming
my hunch. "My whole family is musical," she says, then
describes family "shindigs". "I tried everything," she
continues seriously, shaking her head, "took lessons of every
kind. The only thing I can actually play are the spoons." We
laugh. "And I'm not too shy to do karaoke," she adds.
Myra LeBlanc found it amazing that the community accepted her so
readily four years ago. We may have made her feel at home, but is she
Nothing lasts forever. There are hints that her show biz sister may
tempt Myra away from us someday. Meanwhile, we have this dynamo on
the front line, her friendliness good energy and teamwork making
our Canada Post a place that offers more than just efficient mail service.
Tofino profile of Myra LeBlanc, postmaster of Tofino. Written by Shirley Langer for Tofino Time magazine in January 2004.