These Edmonton women have been friends for 60 years. Here’s how

Five women from Edmonton have managed to keep their childhood friendship alive for 60 years. The key to their success? Putting in the effort.

Mary Jane Shypanski, Deb Peek, Gloria Vanschaik, Carolyn Kostler and Margaret Pino first met in kindergarten, then went onto junior high and high school together forming a lifelong bond.

“You keep in touch and that’s all there is to it to stay friends,” Shypanski said. “You can’t just hope it’s going to happen.”

Plus: “We really like being together,” Vanschaik added.

Over the years, the women have found ways to stay involved in each other’s lives, but when Kostler moved overseas, they started organizing yearly girls trips in the late 80s. Even if planning started in August and took until October, they figured it out.

“We’ve been through ups and downs, ins and outs, births, deaths, terrible things, great things and we’re just there for each other,” Kostler said.


But the reality of their friendship is that it’s taken work. They weren’t always best friends.

“I mean, let’s get real, we’re five women. Come on,” Vanschaik said bursting into laughter.

“We weren’t best friends right from kindergarten,” Kostler explained. “We’ve known each other since kindergarten but there’s been different cliques but there’s always been us there.”

“When we get together we feel like nothing has changed from when we were in high school,” Shypanski chimed in.

“Except we don’t walk as fast,” Pino laughs.

“And we can’t eat the same,” Vanschaik quips.

Five women from Edmonton are celebrating six decades of friendship. (Source: Darcy Seaton/CTV News)

For their 50th friendship-versary the women travelled to Gabriola Island for a week together.

For their 60th, they had individual portraits done and a group photo to commemorate the milestone, and this year they’re also all celebrating their 65th birthday.

“What stands out is just the good times that we have and getting together and the laughing,” Pino said.

Whether it’s camping, glamping or a night at the Fairmont, they all agree sometimes they just want to be in each other’s company and catch up on life.

“Sometimes you have to put a hand up to get a word in,” Shypanksi laughs.

“We all break into each other’s conversations. Can’t miss out on anything, right?” Pino added.


While this group has grown up knowing each other’s parents, siblings, kids and grandkids, they say even their husbands have grown to be friends.

“Sometimes I think too they might even be a little bit envious that we have friends that we’ve been friends with for so long, cause it just doesn’t happen, right?” Shypanki said.

When asked for advice on nurturing a friendship that’s spanned six decades, Vanschaik told CTV News Edmonton it’s all about being present, being kind and accepting one another for their differences.

“I would do anything for any of these women, at any time and I don’t feel that way about everyone I know in my life but I certainly feel that way about this group.”

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Amanda Anderson 

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