Citizen Gail

Gail Buente worked at VPL since January 16, 1994.  I worked with her for seven years in Fine Arts and two years in the Quick Information/Inter-Library Loans.  Gail was an interesting co-worker and a passionate advocate for excellent public service.  If you worked with Gail on a project you got a better result.  Her artistic sensibilities and the depth of her cultural knowledge enriched anyone or anything she touched.  Gail was not a gadfly who paid lip service to our local cultural institutions; she was at the roots of organisations such as Rogue Folk and helped them thrive with her marketing & communications skills.
One of members was in tears remembering Gail as sometimes crusty, always caring and passionate in her friendships and relationships.  If you liked music , movies and theatre, you would have the grandest conversations or experiences with Gail.

Ms. Buente was also highly regarded as a non-fiction writer and editor.  We have four books edited and written and co-authored by Gail in the VPL system:
Gail’s CV – I also love her introduction:

Achieve peace of mind through mindful editing
Is your writing as clear and effective as you’d like it to be? I provide sensitive, precise editing, so your manuscript says exactly what you want it to say. With 25 years experience as an editor, researcher, and non-fiction writer, I bring to my work: attention to detail, an uncluttered style, accuracy, and punctuality.make your writing the best it can be—and set your mind at ease.

  • Twenty-five+ years of experience as freelance editor, researcher, and writer.
  • Editor, Walking Vancouver
  • Coordinating editor, Colour Guide to Vancouver, Victoria and Whistler (5th edition)
  • Contributing writer, Colour Guide to Vancouver and Victoria (1st-4th editions)
  • Contributing writer, Top Ten Guide to Vancouver and DK Pocket Guide to Vancouver
  • Copy editor, From Survival to Thrival
  • Copy editor, Life is an Adventure
  • Co-author of the book, Heritage Hall: Biography of a Building,
  • winner of a City of Vancouver Heritage Award of Recognition and an Award of Honour from the Heritage Society of BC.
  • Staff editor, Extrasessional Studies, University of British Columbia
  • Editor and archival photo researcher for Triple O: the Story of White Spot
  • Staff editor/writer at Expo ‘86 World Exposition
  • Writer of more than 200 published magazine articles, and hundreds of reports, press releases, and other materials for corporate and non-profit clients
  • Freelance editing of numerous other materials including newsletters, reports, books, magazine articles, and course calendars

Who can forget Gail’s editing of the CUPE 391 “How to Cook Up a Strike”?
The Picket Line Cookbook: Memories of a Strike – 2007 Page 3
CUPE 391 – Vancouver Public Library Workers

July, 2007. Contract negotiations weren’t going well. Then, almost before we knew what hitus, we were out walking the pavement. It was the first strike ever for CUPE 391, and most of us were veritable strike virgins. In fact, we weren’t quite sure how these things are usually done.

But, in true 391 fashion, we created our own template of what a strike should look like. Knitpicketing,
bike brigades, picket pooches, haiku, and puppeteering all played a part. (Naturally!) One of the things library workers know instinctually is that when faced with a new and strange situation, the best way to cope – and you all know what I’m talking about – is snacks!

We eased into it with forays to local eateries, along with Timbits provided by our supportive borrowers. But as time marched on and our organically grown strike progressed, we moved into more complicated munching. Hotdog roasts, potlucks and barbeques began simply, but soon advanced into gourmet cheffery.

A few weeks into the strike, reports were circulating of epicurean picnics out at Kamp Kerrisdale. On Wednesdays, Joe Fortes held spectacular soup-to-salad spreads and even a simulated wedding reception (with unsubstantiated vino rumours). Soon the Bike Brigade was planning their daily route with a mind to meal stops.

Down at Central, barbeques were becoming elaborate. Burgers brought a break from the ubiquitous weenies, and condiments spanned the gamut from relish to tapenade. For true gourmands, err… gourmets, the food climax came with the glorious grandeur of a black-and white super-cake at Word on the Strike.

As our picket line stretched into fall, we settled into the soup. Chilly days brought chili days at Britannia. Thanksgiving arrived and everyone met at Central for a feast of turkey burgers for the carnivores and samosas for the vegans, topped with cranberry sauce, yummy pumpkin squares and pies – and chips & cheezies, of course.

After three months on-the-line perfecting their cooking, our members came up with some recipes that were – well, worth saving! So, here are some of them, for use at summer parties, strike commemoration events, or (heaven forbid) other people’s picket lines.

Gail Buente
Interlibrary Loans
The Picket line Cookbook

Gail also was the author of our famous CUPE 391 slogan and button of the 2007 strike: “Our Civil City has Pay Equity”.

People like Gail made the CUPE 391 strike a social justice and international noted event.  We love you, Gail, for sharing your heart, mind and abilities with us so selflessly and caringly.

I lost my sister Gail to cancer ten years ago.  She, too, was a poet, author/editor and committed citizen.  Gail Youngberg was a founding member of the Herstory collective and died after editing the Herstory 25 year perspective: “Inspiring Women”. Gail and Gail met in 1999 in Fine Arts.  My sister was having an attack vertigo looking down to the lower lobby from the sixth floor.  Gail Buente led her to the desk and gave her a map of our building.  Citizen Gail always gave full service and more.

Gail’s friends, co-workers and CUPE 391, want to honour this member, in a fitting and mindful way.  Please send your memories, suggestions and stories of Gail to
Thank you, Gail, for your grand example of citizenship.  We will remember you with love and admiration.

In solidarity