Roberta Ekman was born in Smithers, BC, Canada. Her family lived in Terrace, BC, but, because at that time there was no hospital in
Terrace, her mother had to travel by car on the old rickety roads to Smithers, which had a hospital. She is the second youngest of a family of sixteen children from the same parents, Ted and Mary Johnston who were married in Terrace, BC. All the children were raised in Terrace. In the family there were two sets of twins of which she is one of the youngest set.
She graduated from grade 12 at the Skeena High School. She has been drawing since she was very young and had no training, to speak of, in the field of art. She married Carl Ekman and raised five children. They now have seven grandchildren. Most of her life has been spent living in Terrace (except for the times spent in Alberta with her husband and another couple in a joint business venture).
In between business ventures, she and her husband live in Terrace on their 35 acre property on the edge of the Kalum River canyon in a big log home which they built themselves with a bit of help from their friends and family.
She has seen or heard many of the animals she draws and “prefers to draw animals as there are so many different looking species, unlike humans who all look like people”. She has tried all kinds of mediums but ink and wood-burning are her favorites.