New Ground

A Memoir of Art and Activism in BC’s Interior

Ann Kujundzic

In the late fifties, Ann Kujundzic, her husband and artist Zeljko, and three children—with a fourth on the way—packed up their lives in post-war Edinburgh and emigrated to the Kootenays in BC, seeking adventure and opportunity. In Nelson, Ann was involved in establishing the Kootenay School of Art in 1960, a remarkable institution whose history has yet to be documented in the way it merits—until now.

New Ground: A Memoir of Art and Activism in BC’s Interior is the extraordinary memoir of a feminist, artist and activist who fought for change no matter her circumstance. The Kootenay School of Art was the first of its kind in the region, but it only marked the beginning of what would become Kujundzic’s life-long journey to strengthen the artistic and political environment of BC. She and Zeljko established the Kelowna Art Centre, collaborated with George and Norma Ryga, joined the Voice of Women, lived and worked on a co-op farm, fought for women’s reproductive rights and social justice, and joined the Raging Grannies to fight against the military’s recruitment of the youth, all while juggling the roles inherent of motherhood. She travelled the world—often alone, with nothing but a phrase book to aid her—to places like Nunavut, Yugoslavia, Bethlehem and Hong Kong to keep her politics globally sound.

Honest, intelligent and brave, New Ground shares the life of a remarkable woman whose efforts in the political and artistic communities of BC are still being felt today.

Family edition and initial book design by Bill Horne.

“We can’t read enough about ‘extraordinary ordinary’ women like Ann Kujundzic, a wife and mother of five who transcended the narrow gender constrictions of her time to forge an independent personal and public life, rich with female friendships and social and political activism.”
—Bonnie Sherr Klein, activist and former Studio D filmmaker

“So much of the history of the sixties and seventies in BC, and particularly in the Kootenays, still remains to be written […] Huge kudos to Vici Johnstone and Caitlin Press for their ongoing efforts to publish BC stories and, in particular, BC women’s history. […] This is a wonderful portrait of a deeply interesting woman living in a remarkable transitional and politically important time in BC. I felt as if I were being told a story by a brilliant elder who shared may of my own concerns.”
BC BookWorld (Winter 2019–20)

 “…a beautifully crafted encounter with Kujundzic and all of the histories that make her up … One of the most compelling aspects of the book is its ability to think through and make sense of Kujundzic’s life across time, space, politics and deeply personal histories that are expressed through poetics, images and reflective writing.”
BC Studies (Summer 2020, no.206)

“Over the years Caitlin Press has published many books about British Columbian women for local and national readership. This book is an excellent addition to that list. […] This remarkable woman lived a peripatetic life with far too many social and political activities to enumerate in this review — read the book!”
BC History (Summer 2020, 53.2)