Monday, October 19, 2009


By Trevor Suffield

Feb. 12, 2009

School's out forever for Krawchyk School in Brooklands.

There were some tears and a whole lot of cheers from over 200 people as the first strikes of a bulldozer sent pieces of the nearly 100-year-old building crumbling down.

The red brick Krawchyk School, located at 1950 Pacific Ave., is being demolished after sitting vacant for the past 12 years.

To help celebrate the occasion, adjacent Brooklands School held a Red Brick Knock Down Barbecue, giving the community an opportunity to watch the demolition and share their memories.

Principal of Brooklands, Rex Ferguson-Baird, said that he was glad to see the building go.

The building itself has been sitting vacant and it's a bit of an eyesore. There's some graffiti on it, and some minor vandalism from some kids, said Ferguson-Baird.

He added that the community response has been positive because something is finally being done with the property.

The night before, Grade 3 student Cody Pescitelli was chosen in a random draw and given the chance sit in the wrecker's machine and make the ceremonial first strike.

However, shortly before the scheduled 11 a.m. start time, word came down that Pescitilli would not be allowed to operate the crane.

A spokesperson for Workplace Safety and Health said that because of safety considerations equipment like that has to be operated by a trained person.

Undeterred, Pescitelli still got to wear a hard hat and sit in the big machine while his classmates cheered him onbefore the actual demolition started.

They think it's pretty cool, said Pescitelli of his classmate's reaction.

Georgina Probetts has lots of memories of the school, as three generations of her family attended.

I'm sad to see it go, she said holding back tears.

Classmates from 1940-1949, John Galayda and Victor Epp, came from North Kildonan to watch Krawchyk come down.

For Galayda, one of his favorite memories of the school was of the dentist's office.

The dentist wasn't there all the time, but he would check out the kids teeth and do whatever needed to be done, he said.

The Public School Finance Board is payingf $297,942 for the demolition, which is being handled by Imrie Demolition.

According to Wayne Imrie, it will take approximately six weeks until the job is complete to ground level.

Leading up to the event, Ferguson-Baird had been getting requests for red bricks from sentimental former students.

As a result, all the bricks will be saved for former students and community members.

Nora Daniel, whose oldest sister started at the school in 1924, requested 13 bricks for herself and her siblings, as they all attended at one time.

I went to this school from 1938 to 1947, and all my children attended this school, said Daniel, who still proudly lives in Brooklands.

Plans for the school site are for a green space, including a hill, a community garden and possibly an outdoor learning space.

The history of the school will be preserved, assured Ferguson-Baird

We'll make some kind of marker with the limestone and red brick and the two corner stones, he said, adding that a time capsule from current students will also be created.

However, that probably won't happen until 2011 to celebrate Krawchyk's 100-year anniversary, he said.


By Trevor Suffield

Feb. 5, 2009

The recently announced federal budget contained good news for proponents of an inland port project to be located in northwest Winnipeg.

CentrePort, which is to be located near James Richardson International Airport, was one of the projects the federal government indicated it wants fast-tracked in last week's budget.

That is good news for the project, according to Kerry Hawkins, chairman of CentrePort Canada.

We were delighted, said Hawkins, adding last week's budget announcement was a vote of confidence for the project.

There were only two named projects in the budget release that I saw and, of course, CentrePort was one.

However, Hawkins indicated he has some concern that the budget didn't indicate exactly how much money Ottawa is willing to provide for the project.

There were no numbers attached, and so in fact what I've been doing since the announcement is trying to figure out what the funding is, Hawkins said.

Whatever it is it allows us to now proceed full speed ahead with the development of the airport and a couple of other things that have to be done.

A total of 20,000 acres of land has been reserved for the project at the airport. That means that CentrePort will need to make the area more accessible to truck and rail traffic.

As a result, Inkster Boulevard will have to be widened from Route 90 to the west and to Saskatchewan Avenue to the south.

Chris Lorenc, president of the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association, said other infrastructure improvements will be required for the project to proceed.

The other (improvement) is the enhancement of the Trans-Canada Highway west of the Perimeter, approximately a distance of six kilometers, so that we don't have that bizarre bottleneck coming into Winnipeg or leaving Winnipeg through Headingley, Lorenc said.

Lorenc added that the city is going to have to twin Inkster between Keewatin Street and Oak Point Highway in order to have a four-lane trade route.

Whether it's eastbound, southbound, westbound or northbound, there's a quick connection, he said of the upgrading.

Denis Fletcher, executive director of the St. James Biz, is excited at the possibilities that CentrePort could bring to area businesses.

It's been proven in other cities around the world that these free-trade zones are very important and Winnipeg is situated in absolutely the perfect place, said Fletcher.

He added that it would definitely have an impact on the businesses within their biz zone area, and that it has the support of everyone on the St. James Biz board.

I think it's absolutely critical that the project moves ahead, said Fletcher.

It's not a new idea, it's been around for a few years. In the past it seems to have just sort of died a natural death, but I don't think it will this time.

Realtor Allan Asplin said he doesn't expect the inland port project will have an immediate impact on real estate values in the surrounding area.

It really shouldn't affect property values at all, said Asplin, who works for the Judy Lindsay Team.

However, business property values surrounding the airport are difficult to speculate on, according to Asplin, who added that the area is already fully developed.

Anyone who is already established has their location set there, but it's a possibility that CentrePort could bring in new businesses, said Asplin, adding that the lack of available real estate could drive prices up.

Hawkins estimated that the cost of CentrePort could end up being as much $200 million.

CenterPort has started a search to hire a chief executive officer. The new CEO will be the corporation's first paid employee.

Hawkins said funding from Ottawa will determine how long the project takes to complete.

We don't know what we're going to look like when we grow up, but we know what we want to look like when we grow up, he said.


By Trevor Suffield

Feb. 5, 2009

While she was growing up in Aberdeen, Scotland, Mary George's father would not allow books to be displayed in his house.

With the release of her 25th book, The Runaway McBride, local author George has now written enough books to fill a bookcase.

My father had boxes of books hidden away in closets because we didn't display books in a working class home, said George, who lives in River Heights with her husband, Forbes.

Writing as Elizabeth Thornton, her mother's maiden name, the internationally acclaimed George has sold over two million of her historical-romance books worldwide.

George emigrated to Winnipeg in 1969 with her husband and three sons, after working as a teacher and starting a nursery school in Scotland.

They moved to find a dry climate that was better suited to her husband's asthma which Winnipeg has provided, she says.

Once in Winnipeg, George worked as a teacher at Westview Elementary School in Transcona for seven years.

Her favorite job was when she worked as a lay minister at a Presbyterian Church for ten years. As well, she completed an honors thesis on Women in Euripides at the University of Winnipeg.

But it wasn't until she read her first romance novel that she thought she could be a writer as well.

In 1986 she wrote her first book, Bluestocking Bride, and had it published the following year.

I sold my first little book for a $1,000 advance and I made 2% royalties. I didn't know about editors, agents, anything, said the grandmother of five.

Her best sales come from the U.S., because of the population and the publishing industry there, she says.

But novels of this ilk are not without their critics.

Cindy Donatelli, associate professor of Women and Gender Studies at the University of Manitoba, teaches a course called Soap Operas, Harlequins and Talk Shows, which examines gender-specific forms of entertainment that have been identified with women.

I think the value in studying it, is it shows in a way the kind of script that is still traditionally written for so many women, says Donatelli.

She also believes that popular culture forms have a lot to say about the way our society is really conducted.

If you bring it into the classroom, then there's the opportunity to read against the grain, that is to analyze exactly how the medium is constructing and sending the message.

But does that get rid of all the pleasure in it? I don't think so, said Donatelli.

George has no problem with doubters of the genre. She thinks the characters she creates all learn something and grow as women.

I like taking female characters that are not sure of themselves at the beginning of the book, but by the end they are damn sure and know where they're going, said George.

It takes on average ten months to complete a book, which might take a bit longer because she writes all of her novels out longhand - because she never learned how to type.

Instead, she gets her husband, who is a writer as well, to do the typing for her. That also includes typing out blogs and responses on her website.

George, who won't reveal her age, says she can't see herself ever giving up writing.

I may not be writing the same thing, or take a year break and come up with murder mystery's or suspense, said George.

In June, her next release, The Scot And I, will be released.

The launch for The Runaway Mcbride is being held at the Grant Park McNally Robinson on Feb. 19 at 8 p.m.

For more information visit


By Trevor Suffield

Feb. 5, 2009

A portion of Sargent Avenue in the West End will be closed to traffic for the next six weeks as the city works to replace aging culverts along Omands Creek.

Sargent near Empress Street will remain closed during the construction. As well, No. 15 bus service will be re-routed onto Sanford Street during the closure.

Work on the project, which is expected to cost $1.6 million, began last week.

The city is replacing three existing large diameter double corrugated steep pipe culverts because of their deteriorating condition.

The structures stability is compromised and if not replaced could pose a risk to water, sewer and gas utilities in the area, according to a city spokesperson.

Ken Allen, a communications officer with the city, said preparations for the closure have been ongoing for months.

Just like when we re-routed traffic on Bishop Grandin over the Fort Garry Bridge last summer, we had a pretty extensive communication plan around that, and that's the same thing with this project, Allen said.

The city scheduled construction to begin in January so it would not affect nearby businesses during the holiday shopping season.

Most area business owners were notified about the street closure more than a month ago.

Keith Walls, zone manager at the Rona located at 1333 Sargent Ave., said the city did a good job of letting area businesses know about the closure.

We received lots of notification from the city, Walls said. We received an email about a month and a half ago.

So far the closure is having very little effect on their sales, he said.

Customer traffic from this time last year is within 20 people, so (it) really (has had) no effect, he said.

Lauren McEachern, manager of Auntie Fanny's Fine Furniture at 1370 Sargent, said he hasn't noticed any change in the number of customers visiting his retail outlet.

We really haven't found any difference in customer count, McEachern said, adding it's too early to say exactly what kind of impact the closure will have on business.

McEachern said that he was concerned that the city didn't do more to notify area businesses about the closure of Sargent.

We just saw the sign, and heard the news, but didn't actually get any warnings, McEachern said.

Area residents don't seem to have been inconvenienced by the closure.

Larry Santucci, who lives in the West End, said he was prepared for the closure after spotting a sign the city posted in the area.

They had the sign up for a while, so we knew what was coming, said Santucci, adding that he regularly drives his daughter to work in the area.

You can still get around the closure by going down Sanford, he said.

For Lem Jackson, owner of Metal-Etch Graphics located at 1143 Sanford St., the closure might be a positive thing for his business.

The closure could be good to a point where it might increase traffic and awareness of my business during the seven weeks, Jackson said.

St. Matthews Avenue is scheduled to have its culverts replaced next year, with a cost of $1.9 million


By Trevor Suffield

Feb. 5, 2009

For the past seven years, students of a River Heights elementary school have been helping to build schools in Vietnam by reading books.

Through read-a-thons, Rockwood School students have raised over $10,000 for the Winnipeg-based charity Canadians Helping Kids in Vietnam.

Rockwood held a kickoff to February's reading month with a dinner last week which also celebrated Vietnamese New Year.

The event, which featured authentic Vietnamese food, music, and a dragon dance, attracted over 100 people to the school.

Grade 4 student Shea Penney got to perform the dragon dance, and thinks it's important to lend a hand.

Helping out and giving money so that people can to go to school is nice and really important, said Penney.

In a past read-a-thon, Grade 6 student Madeline Robinson finished 10 books and says it's fun to help out.

I love reading and so I usually collect a lot of money, and it feels so good to hand in the envelope in and say ˜I just gave money to kids so that they can go to school," said Robinson.

Students at the school also sponsor a Vietnamese family for $20 a month.

Teacher Jennifer Elliot is the one who connected CHKV with Rockwood School.

In 2000, she traveled to Vietnam to complete the adoption of her son, William.

I became aware, first hand, of the conditions in that country, said Elliot.

When my son was older, I really wanted him to have a positive connection with the country where he was born, she said, adding that a friend told them about CHKV.

She joined their board with her husband and then had the idea to raise money for CHKV's school building projects through read-a-thons at the school.

Tam Nguyen, president of CHKV, was invited by Elliot to share his story with the students.

I thought maybe we'd raise a few hundred dollars, but that first year we raised over $3,000, Elliot said, noting that the students received no personal incentives.

Originally born in Vietnam, Nguyen considers himself lucky to have escaped and to have settled in Winnipeg in 1980.

With nothing more than a little rickety boat, and thought to be near his certain death many times, Nguyen made a vow that if he survived he would one day help others would couldn't leave.

I always kept that promise in my mind, and in 1995 I said I should do it now before it's too late, said Nguyen, who owns Tam Custom Tailor shop on Ellice Avenue.

He has made good on that promise, as CHKV has raised over $130,000 to date.

The next read-a-thon at Rockwood started this past Monday, and Nguyen, who has two kids of his own, is proud of the students of Rockwood and elsewhere who have helped out.

He still has family in Vietnam and regularly travels back to visit. He also travels with members of CHKV, so they can see for themselves the difference the charity makes.

Unfortunately he will not be able to attend the opening of the newest school at the end of March.

However, it will feature a banner that reads: This school was built for the children of Vietnam by the children and parents of Rockwood School.

CHKV's annual dinner will be held in May.

For more information visit


By Trevor Suffield

Jan. 29, 2009

Students from a West Broadway school are hoping that a community rally held last Friday afternoon will help them get an outdoor athletic field built for their school.

More than 100 Gordon Bell students braved -30 C wind chills for a midday rally at 730 Portage Ave., the site of a former car dealership on which Canada Post plans to build a mail sorting facility.

Green-clad students carrying posters were joined by community activists and politicians to raise awareness about their efforts to have an athletic field built near the school.

Morgan Hoogstraten, a Grade 12 student activist at Gordon Bell, was impressed with the turnout of the rally.

It just goes to show how much we want this space, said Hoogstraten, whose hair sported green highlights for the event.

I've been going here since Grade 7, and I can tell how much of an impact this will make on the school in terms of people from the community coming to the school.

Currently, Gordon Bell students only have access to a paved outdoor athletic courtyard located adjacent to the school.

Connor Ferg said he and his friends have the scars to prove how unforgiving the courtyard surface can be.

I've got scars, and I've broken bones on this. It's just not good, said Ferg, a Grade 10 student.

Gordon Bell has occupied its current site near the corner of Borrowman Place and Broadway for more than 50 years. Approximately 700 students currently attend the school.

Morris Glimcher, executive director of the Manitoba High Schools Athletic Association, said while his organization hasn't been involved in discussions about the Canada Post site, it supports the schools efforts.

Gordon Bell doesn't have a football team right now, so maybe it would encourage football, or a home field for soccer, Glimcher said. I think every school should have a field.

Graduating student Leah Borchert, thinks an outdoor grass field would be a great thing for the school and community.

It's something that I really would have loved to have had in my years here, Borchert said.

In the West End there's lots of children and young people and adults with needs that a green space can fill.

Former Gordon Bell student Nancy Chippendale helped organize the demonstration because she feels athletics are important for students.

Many people have their best experiences in school, and I certainly did, playing on sports teams, Chippendale said. It's so positive and healthy.

Rob Altemeyer, MLA for Wolseley, attended the rally to show his support for students and staff at the school. Altemeyer said he understands it won't be easy to find a solution that works for both the school and Canada Post.

The challenge is we have to find a suitable space for Canada Post, Altemeyer said.

We need to find another 2.5-acre lot that Canada Post can build on, and let the students play here.

NDP MP Pat Martin attended the rally and said that something must be done to address the concerns of people in the community.

Martin, who has had discussion with senior officials at Canada Post and the Winnipeg School Division about the site, said that last weeks rally was just the beginning of efforts to galvanize the community.

These kids deserve the same opportunity to play team sports as kids in the suburbs or anywhere else in the city, Martin said. In fact, I would argue kids in the inner city need these opportunities even more.

Martin added that there is still time to resolve the issue. He said Canada Post officials have told him that they don't intend to start building until late summer or early fall.

This is great news, Martin said.


By Trevor Suffield

Jan. 29, 2009

Local bandy enthusiasts want to shed some light on their sport.

Representatives of the Bandy Federation of Canada are lobbying for funding to install four outdoor light standards at Sturgeon Creek Community Club in St. James. The total cost of the project is estimated at $200,000.

Sturgeon Creek is home to the only regulation size bandy facility in Canada. Bandy is a European game that has been described as a cross between field hockey and soccer. It's played on an ice surface that is approximately the same size as a soccer field.

Todd Ritchot, vice-president of Sturgeon Creek, said the outdoor lighting would allow the bandy facility to be utilized far more than it currently is. Right now, players can only practice during daylight hours, meaning practice time is at a premium.

Ritchot is a former bandy player and was part of the first wave of players to take up the game when it was introduced in Winnipeg 23 years ago.

The team that he played on barely scored a goal in its first tournament. More ice time would help in the development of current and future players and allow the game to grow, Ritchot said.

Ritchot was among those who lobbied to bring bandy to Sturgeon Creek when the national team was looking for a home rink three years ago. Both the mens and womens national team are now based at the community club, located at 210 Rita St.

I thought it would be a good opportunity for them to come and bring people to the club, Ritchot said. It's a national team so it would bring some recognition to the area.

Morris Glimcher, president of the Bandy Federation of Canada, is in the process of securing funding for lights at the facility.

Councillors on the Assiniboia community committee recently approved a $25,000 grant for the project. The remaining money will come from other government grants, the corporate sector and community fundraising events, Glimcher said.

We've still got a lot of work cut out for us, he said.

Certainly the ideal thing would be an artificial ice surface, but there's a big dollar figure attached to that. But if we had lights, we could certainly grow the sport and it could be a seven-day activity.

Glimcher says that additional outdoor lighting at Sturgeon Creek would also benefit local soccer and football teams because they would be able to play and practise later during their respective seasons.

Glimcher said he doesn't expect the lights to bother nearby residents, adding bandy teams will respect any light curfews.

So far there has only been one complaint about the bandy facility, Ritchot said, and that involved a local soccer devotee who thought that the bandy ice would ruin the grass underneath it.

But the grass has been greener and greener every spring, he said.

Glimcher would like to see the lighting installed by this fall so it would be ready to use next season.

The Canadian mens bandy team returned to Winnipeg earlier this week after placing second in the B pool in the world championships in VÃsterÃs, Sweden.


By Trevor Suffield

Jan. 22, 2009

There's a good chance that the toque and parka you're wearing this winter will save you from the bitterly cold weather.

However, the Canadian Dermatology Association is concerned that it won't save you from skin cancer.

That's why the CDA held a free public skin cancer screening clinic at Polo Park Shopping Centre last week. The event was previously held at the Manitoba Legislature.

Free videos, brochures and sunscreen were provided to visitors to the event, which was aimed promoting awareness about the disease and what can be done to prevent it. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Canada, according to the CDA.

Helen Blackmore, who was previously diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma skin cancer, felt it was important to come out and get checked again. She said that there wasn't the same level of awareness regarding skin cancer when she was growing up.

We just basted in baby oil and lay out there and roasted, which was the wrong thing to do, and I've paid for it as a result, said Blackmore, who lives in Westwood.

Patients were asked to fill out a questionnaire, and then led into a private makeshift darkroom where they were examined by a dermatologist with magnifiers and lighting equipment.

The exams lasted approximately 10 minutes per person. Doctors also made time to deal with any concerns people had.

Of the 73 people that city dermatologists screened, 28 were found to have areas of concern on their bodies.

Some were suspected to have pre-cancers of the skin, while for others there were basal cell or squamous skin cancer concerns.

Dr. Lorne Hurst, one of the examining physicians, said that most people who attended the clinic were happy that an area of concern was addressed.

Everybody has many questions. Fortunately the majority of them were able to reassure that they're simple signs of aging, Hurst said.

There has been some where we've picked up on something that needs further attention.

In those cases, patients are referred to their family doctors for additional examination.

The convenience of the screening, and the results, made her trip to the mall worthwhile, Elvira Madill said.

It doesn't take a lot of time, and you don't need to wait four months for an appointment, said Madill, who lives in Headingley.

(The doctor) just looked at what I was worried about, and said I had nothing to worry about. Less anxiety on me.

Dr. Marnie Wiseman said it can be difficult to tell someone when there is a problem.

We had one person that was a little upset to learn they had a skin cancer, but for the most part there's usually quite good treatment available, Wiseman said.

People are quite grateful that we're here to help them out.

For those looking for a hot winter getaway to beat the cold grip of winter, Wiseman advises caution.

If you look at melanoma and basal cell, those two skin cancers are more associated with intense bursts of sunlight. Just like everybody who goes and heads on out on a quick vacation and comes back, she said.

Skin cancer happens all year round and in the winter we're just covering up and are less likely to see it.


By Trevor Suffield

Jan. 22, 2009

Steve Landreville enjoyed considerable success as a member of the Charleswood Hawks of the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League.

Landreville is back on the ice this winter, but he's with a different team and playing a different game.

The Charleswood product began playing bandy earlier this winter, a sport he had never played before, and is a member of the Canadian team that is currently playing in the World Bandy Championships in Vasteras, Sweden.

It was very frustrating at the start, Landreville said of his introduction to the sport. I think the key to when you start bandy is to forget anything you've learned in hockey.

Bandy has been described as field hockey on ice. It is played on a surface the size of a soccer field with a ball instead of a puck. Each team has 11 skaters on the ice. Players use a three-foot stick to shoot and pass.

Bandy is a game of smarts. I mean obviously you need your athleticism, but there's a lot more thinking involved being a first year player, Landreville said.

The World Bandy Championships will wrap up Jan. 25 in Sweden.

Landreville is joined on Team Canada by close friend Brett Gavrailoff. The two were hockey teammates from the time they were 12 years old.

Landreville is happy that he and Gavrailoff are both getting to be part of Team Canada.

We're like best buddies, know each other inside and out, and we've kind of had the exact same experiences hockey-wise, said Landreville, who is finishing up his last year of student teaching at Oak Park High.

Team Canada, made up exclusively of Winnipeggers, played a pair of exhibition games against the U.S. national team in Minneapolis in November.

That rivalry will likely be renewed, as Canada and the U.S. are the favourites in the B Pool in Sweden.

Gavrailoff, 22, said he was excited about the opportunity to represent his country.

It's really cool to be able to represent Canada, that's quite a sweet thing, honestly, he said.

Landreville, Gavrailoff and the rest of Team Canada had to pay for their own air fare to Sweden. The rest of their expenses were covered through fundraising and sponsorships.

Although bandy has been around since the 1800s, it is still relatively new to Canada. The sport was introduced to Winnipeg in 1986.

Costa Cholakis first encountered the game while he was attending the University of Manitoba. He's been playing ever since and is a player-coach with Team Canada this year.

Cholakis said recent cold weather in Winnipeg made it difficult for the team to practice outdoors. Several practices had to be cancelled because there are no indoor bandy facilities in the city.

It was tough there for a while, when it was minus-30 and minus -40, said Cholakis, who also coaches the Canadian womens team.

Cholakis has played in several World Bandy Championships, including last years tournament in Russia, where Canada finished second to the U.S. He thinks that this year could be a breakthrough for the Canadians.

With a strong showing at the tournament, and with a push to get bandy recognized as an official Olympic sport, Cholakis hopes that the game will soon catch on in Canada.

There's no reason why Canada can't be No. 1 in two ice sports, he said.

Already off to a great start, the Canadian team beat Sponga, a Swedish Division 1 team, 6-2 in an exhibition match on this past Saturday. Landreville scored twice to lead the team to victory.

Tournament games started on Wednesday, with the big game against the U.S. is on Friday.


By Trevor Suffield

Jan. 22, 2009

A nearly century old fire hall in St. James could soon be replaced, according to an official with the Winnipeg Fire Department.

Reid Douglas, deputy chief of support services for the city, confirmed that Station No. 11 on Berry Street near Portage Avenue is nearing the end of its usefulness.

The station was built in 1912 and was identified in a 2005 City of Winnipeg safety audit of fire and ambulance stations as a location that was coming to the end of its service life.

Douglas acknowledged that the building no longer serves the needs of city firefighters.

The building is, for the purpose we use it for, coming to an end of its life cycle, and it will cost us too much to fix it, he said.

Economics tells us we should replace the station which we do have in the plans for 2009.

The city has no plans at present for Station 11 once the building is vacated.

Construction of a new fire hall to replace the station is slated to begin later this year. Fire officials will not discuss the specific location of the new station as property negotiations are ongoing.

However, St. James-Brooklands Coun. Scott Fielding said city officials are looking at an acre of property bordered by Polo Park Shopping Centre to the east and Ferry Road to the west.

Fielding said he hopes construction of the new fire station begins soon.

Quite frankly, we probably already would have had shovels in the ground but there's a limit to the amount of space that's there in that area, Fielding said.

The city allocated $2.7 million in its 2008 capital budget for the replacement of Station 11, which will remain open while a new building is being constructed.

Alex Forrest, president of the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg Local 867, said he hopes the city is committed to building the new station despite the current economic downturn.

Forrest said the fire hall on Berry isn't the only one in need of replacement. He said that Station No. 18 on Roblin Boulevard near Harstone Road and another station in west Winnipeg will both need to be replaced in the near future.

For the past 20 or 30 years there has been no attention paid to the infrastructure of the fire halls within the city of Winnipeg, he said.

Forrest added that there are another six or seven fire halls in the city that should be replaced in the next three to four years.

Douglas said location is an important factor when it comes to determining where a new station will be located. Fire officials want to be able to maintain a four-minute response time, he said.

One of the options being considered for the new St. James fire hall is a drive-through set-up so that trucks can enter through the back and exit through the front of the building, he said. The location of the new fire hall will determine whether or not that is possible, he added.

Forrest said that it's important that the fire halls in west Winnipeg are replaced so that firefighters can continue to deliver the same level of service.

At the end of the day, it's not just about building a fire hall, said Forrest. It's about building the proper fire hall in the proper area to give the proper response.


By Trevor Suffield

Jan. 15, 2009

Doug Blaylock learned some valuable lessons about helping his community while growing up on a farm in the Swan Valley Region.

Blaylock, who works as a consultant with Investors Group, hasn't forgotten those lessons and continues to apply them to life in Winnipeg.

I think the big thing that was instilled, especially by my grandfather, was you always give back because you never know when you may need to receive it, said Blaylock, 39, who lives in River Heights with his wife and daughter.

Blaylock's grandfather served in the Second World War and saw firsthand the good work the Salvation Army did in Europe. He subsequently told his grandson to always help people in need.

That sense of responsibility stayed with Blaylock, even when working as a funeral director for 17 years.

Most of the time you meet people on their worst day, so how do you help them out with the grieving process? There is lots of volunteer work in there, he said.

It was Investors Group's commitment to helping others that made Blaylock want to work for the company.

During the past five years Investors staff members helped build a home for Habitat for Humanity, assisted with several food drives and delivered hampers this past holiday season.

We're very fortunate in what we have, he said, so how do we share that?

This year, Blaylock has been helping by taking the United Way's Leadership Challenge, which is in its second year.

Ten long-time donors issued a challenge to the United Way and said that if 2,500 donors give $1,200 a year, they will give an additional $250,000 towards poverty reduction in Winnipeg.

Some of these long-time donors include local businessmen Bob Silver and Hartley Richardson.

Stephanie Levene, campaign director for the United Way, said the donors wanted to encourage people to step up and donate to increase the overall ownership in the future of the community.

The money is invested in two proven poverty reduction strategies that will help people achieve financial stability in this community, she said.

Levene added that the aim of the Leadership program is to address the root causes of the poverty and find sustainable solutions.

The United Way has raised a total of $17.3 million, or 97% of its target, for 2008-09. The agency has been particularly pleased with the efforts of the 2,321 people who participated in the leadership program.

It's just another testament to the generosity of Winnipeggers and the commitment that people have to making Winnipeg a great city for everyone to enjoy, Levene said.

In addition to working with the United Way, Blaylock also volunteers with the Lions Club of Winnipeg, the Khartoum Temple and the Stroke Recovery Association.

Blaylock isn't the only member of his family involved in volunteering. Both his wife and daughter help out with different organizations throughout the city.

Despite his family's busy schedule, Blaylock says he is determined to staying true to his roots.

In farming life, community is a lot, he said. If you're done your harvest quick, you don't just park your combine in the shed, you go help your neighbour.


By Trevor Suffield

Jan. 15, 2009

Alfredo Bangloy Jr.'s father isn't surprised that his son has made a living out of catching bad guys.

Alfredo Sr. still remembers the night when his son was in high school and was coming home late with his older brother and witnessed a mugging in progress.

The brothers chased down the mugger and held him until the authorities came. The police later commended them for their efforts.

Bangloy, a veteran RCMP officer, was recently promoted to the position of inspector and is now the officer in charge of the Mounties Professional Standards Unit in Ottawa.

Born in Mayoyao, Philippines, Bangloy moved with his parents and older brother to the ethnically diverse West End of Winnipeg when he was two years old. He also has two younger brothers.

An avid athlete in high school, Bangloy put sports on the back burner when he started working part-time at a pizza restaurant during his Grade 11 year.

Thinking they could run the business, Bangloy and his brother bought Mr. Marcos Pizza on Ellice Avenue the following year with some financial assistance from their father. They operated the business for three years.

My last two years in high school could've been better if I wasn't working so much, he joked.

In fact, business was so good that the Bangloys opened another restaurant. However, they didn't anticipate the demands of running two businesses and ended up selling them both.

It was around that time, and with his parents support, that Bangloy was accepted into the RCMP. His training took him to Montreal and Regina.

Bangloy eventually married a fellow RCMP officer, Trudy, and they have two children together.

Ron Cantiveros, publisher of the Filipino Journal, said that policing wasn't a job that most Filipino parents wanted for their children in the past. That view has changed over the years, he says.

Nowadays it's whatever you aspire to be and this is just one perfect example of someone who wanted to follow his dreams to be in the police force, Cantiveros said.

Following graduation, Bangloy was posted in Vancouver and was stationed there for eight years. He worked for the drug division and emergency response team and often performed undercover duties.

At the urging of a senior crown prosecutor in Vancouver, Bangloy decided to take an unpaid leave of absence from the police service to attend law school at the University of Manitoba.

There's never a good time to leave your job, and we had two kids at the time and Winnipeg was pretty much the only place we could financially afford to do it, he said.

They stayed with his parents during the three years he was in the program. Bangloy's mom, Belen, was happy to have her son and his family in their house.

We preferred that they come and live with us, Belen said.

Upon graduation, Bangloy and his family moved back to Vancouver where he worked in national security for the RCMP.

Armed with a law degree and his recent promotion, Bangloy is now hoping to establish some roots in Ottawa.

My family is quite settled here in Ottawa, and I like it, so I'll probably try to stay here until my kids are done high school, he says, adding that he'd like to get back into the operational work he did in the past.

Cantiveros says it's important to recognize the impact of having a Filipino in such an important position.

I think to be part of the RCMP as a Filipino-Canadian, or even a Filipino that grew up in the West End, absolutely it's a positive mark for role models in the community.

Despite his ties to Winnipeg's Filipino community, Bangloy says he doesn't see himself as a role model for any one particular segment of society.

It's not something that I consciously think of, he said. I just think of being a good role model to the community in general.


By Trevor Suffield

Jan. 15, 2009

A Charleswood landmark is in the process of being sold and turned into a gas station.

Red River Co-op is hoping to finalize a deal to purchase the Charleswood Hotel, located at 3425 Roblin Blvd., which has been a fixture in the community for 44 years.

The hotel was closed in early November. Its doors and windows have been boarded shut since that time.

However, Greg Reiter, general manager of Red River Co-op, said it's too soon to say what his company's plans for the site will be.

"I don't want to talk about it just yet, because it's not final. We still have a couple of conditions to be removed," Reiter said.

Reiter expects a deal to be finalized within the next couple of weeks.

Ike Kraut, president of the Charleswood Department Store, said Co-op representatives have already introduced themselves to him as the new owners of the site.

Kraut, whose store has been located at 3411 Roblin Blvd. for 52 years, said he became curious upon noticing the nearby hotel was boarded up.

"I phoned the city and wanted to get all the information because that building is going to be ripped down," said Kraut, adding that he had expected it to be demolished by now.

"I didn't want any damage to my building and they guaranteed that."

Kraut said he has heard the former hotel site will feature a new a convenience store, car wash and gas pumps. Approximately 1,700 vehicles a day are expected to access the site when it is completed, he added.

John Towle, who used to live in Charleswood and was a frequent patron of the hotel, said he was surprised to learn of its closing.

It was just a community bar. Lots of locals went there, Towle said.

Randy Horel, who has lived in Charleswood for more than 30 years, said the neighbourhood won't be the same without Charley's Bar.

The Charleswood Hotel was a centre- place of Charleswood for years, said Horel, who remembers buying his first case of beer there.

The old gang, on Christmas Eve, we used to go to the Charley for years, this year nobody knew what to do, the 48-year-old entrepreneur said.

The Thirsty Lion Tavern, located in the Park West Inn at 525 Dale Boulevard, hopes to cash in on the closure of the Charley.

Dave Andrews, general manager of the Park West Inn, said his establishment has already seen an increase in customers since the Charley closed.

Things have picked up in November. We also have a full-service vendor and are noticing more people in our VLT lounge, Andrews said.

Horel said the sale of the Charleswood Hotel had more to do with the owners receiving an offer they couldn't refuse rather than a decline in business.

Still, Horel said it is be difficult to accept that the Charley is no longer a part of the neighbourhood.

Like a Cheers bar, said Horel, that's what the Charley was.


By Trevor Suffield

Jan. 8, 2009

Tuxedo residents who want additional traffic lights installed on Kenaston Boulevard say the city is trying to stall their efforts.

Residents of two Haven 2 seniors blocks on Boulton Bay say the city needs to install additional traffic controls on Kenaston between Grant and Taylor avenues before there is a pedestrian fatality.

Many residents who live on Boulton are over the age of 55 and can't cross Kenaston on foot because of the constant stream of traffic, said resident Hart Piekoff, 64.

The city does not need to wait until someone gets killed at Boulton Bay to justify spending money on a directional light system, which will make senior citizens much safer, Piekoff said.

Boulton residents who want to catch a bus on southbound Kenaston must either walk to Grant or Taylor in order to safely cross the street, Piekoff said.

That simply isn't feasible for many seniors in the area, according to Lee Champagne, president of the Haven 2 residents association.

Champagne said residents have been lobbying the city for additional traffic lights on Kenaston for the past three years. However, she is losing confidence that anything will be done about their concerns.

It just doesn't make sense to me, but I'm not a politician, she said.

Champagne said the city's lack of action on Kenaston might be because the future of Kapyong Barracks has yet to be determined. The barracks are located on the west side of Kenaston near Boulton.

Ken Allen, communications officer for the city of Winnipeg, said that's not the case. Allen said the city has no plans to install traffic lights near Boulton at this time because traffic volumes in the area does not warrant them.

The requirement is 75 vehicles per hour making westbound left turns from Boulton during the six busiest hours of the day, Allen said, adding that pedestrian counts were also done and were below the required number.

The city has conducted two traffic studies in the area. The most recent one was conducted last September, according to Allen.

When we went out and did that study approximately 10 vehicles were making that turn per hour, which is well below the minimum requirement, he said.

Allen said the most recent study showed very little change from a previous study that was conducted two years ago.

Although there are no immediate plans to conduct another traffic study of the area, Allen said the city will continue to listen to residents concerns.

If residents do have concerns, it's important to make them known, he said.

Piekoff said that residents won't give up their fight despite the city's inaction.

"I think that everyone of us has a duty to make this a better world and we all would and could and should do it," he said.


By Trevor Suffield

Jan. 1, 2009

Scott Fielding has been the city councillor for the St. James-Brooklands ward since 2006, has lived in the area all of his life and has seen it go through many changes. Because of increased development around the Polo Park area, concerns about traffic are growing. Fielding recently talked with reporter Trevor Suffield about the area's past, present and future.

Q: Looking back on 2008, what were the highs and lows for the St. James-Brooklands area?

A: We were able to invest a lot more in some of our park amenities in terms of playground structures and also some park renewals. On a global scale, there's some bigger developments in St. James that are happening. Of course the development of the inland port, which is now being called CentrePort, is something that can really revolutionize the Winnipeg economy, and if we are able to do it in a way that makes sense for the community, it will make the CentrePort, airport, and St. James area really a centre for trade across North America that leads to India and China. For low-lights, on a city level we still have a big crime problem that we need to really take a bite out of, so those are things we still need to work on. We are going in the right direction and crime is coming down, but to a certain extent there is still way too much of it going on.

Q: What are your thoughts on the traffic problems surrounding Polo Park?

A: What has happened over the last 10 or 12 years since this development started is that there hasn't been a great transportation plan that has been in place, as you see some of the backlog on a Saturday or whenever you're driving to the Polo Park area. With the potential developments that people are talking about, we know for a fact that the old arena site is being developed into a lifestyle centre, and with the potential of the stadium site, both combined things could add close to a million square feet of retail space, if the projects proceed. So what I will be doing is asking for a transportation study that looks at exactly at how we need to update some of our transportation and route systems to make it more amenable for people to gain access to these points.

Q: Would you ever support a development freeze?

>A: I wouldn't support a development freeze in that area, but I think that as we move forward we need some proactive planning on how we're going to handle this extra traffic and transportation needs in this area. I think this is something that can be done before developments happen, as well as in conjunction with them, because I think it's a very important element.

Q: What do you think the area is missing?

A: What I would like to see, and not just necessarily in the Polo Park area, is to have some active transportation systems that lead into the Polo Park area, maybe some better routing systems for busses. And I'd like to develop an active transportation corridor throughout St. James that would have more bike trails and more amenities.

Q: What are your thoughts on the demise of the apartment buildings in North Kildonan?

A: I'm the chair of property, planning and development, so I voted in favour because I think we got to make sure we look at development when an outside investor comes and is looking to invest close to $50 million, and add close to a half a million dollars to the tax base. We really need to take a look at these, especially with apartment living, where there is a shortage of apartments in Winnipeg. With that being said, we do need to ensure that there is consultation with the public and with the community to make sure that these types of projects fit in to the community.

Q: How are celebrating the holiday season?

A: What we like to do is bunker down with our family and spend a lot of time with family and friends. Give thanks for what's been going on in the year past, and look forward to the new year. It sounds a little like a cliche, but that's what we do.


By Trevor Suffield

Dec. 25, 2008

Spend time with Doug Mackie and you’ll get the feeling there aren’t enough hours in a day.

The 68-year-old St. James native was recently awarded one of six nationwide Toyota Never Quit awards, which recognize people who constantly volunteer their time to benefit others and the community.

Mackie, who grew up in Crescentwood, has six children from two marriages. It was his daughter, Lisa, who nominated him for the award.

Lisa, who lives in Saskatoon, received help from two of her sisters with the application. The example he set for them was the inspiration for nominating him, she says.

“He’s been a life-long volunteer throughout all of his life, and continues to be, and I just thought that this was really cool,” she said.

Lisa said that she was thrilled when she found out her father won.

“It’s a fantastic recognition of all that he’s done for Winnipeg, and for us,” she said.

Mackie’s contributions include serving on the board of organizations such as the Friends of the Conservatory, Scouts Manitoba and the Jubilee Fund.

“I hope that I’ve been able to contribute a little bit to those communities and organizations,” said Mackie, who currently works as an independent financial planner.

“Sometimes I guess it’s because I saw a vision, or thought that there was a need and I was willing to take the initiative.”

Mackie is also the founding president of the Manitoba Travel Agents association, which came by the way of the family travel business, Mackie Travel Service.

At 19-years-old he was working in Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., for the Hudson’s Bay Co., when he joined the family business after promising to go back and finish university.

Mackie never did go back and was with Mackie Travel for 32 years. In 1980, he was one of the first western travel agents to be allowed into China in 1980.

He also survived polio as a child and prostate cancer just last year, but he doesn’t dwell on those difficult times.

“Part of my attitude now is ‘it’s been done, it’s over, thank you very much,’ get on with my life,” said Mackie, who loves to cook and has travelled to Europe over 70 times.

Mackie’s latest passion is the creation of a Winnipeg-based chapter of Menshed’s, an Australian program that encourages economic development in small communities. It also acts as a way to bring men together to improve their health and well-being. There are 150 clubs in Australia, but none in North America.

“I am not afraid to jump in and get involved,” said Mackie.

Mackie will receive $5,000 as part of the award. As well, $1,500 will be donated to a charity of his choice.


By Trevor Suffield

Dec. 25, 2008

Raed Joundi’s academic career almost stalled before it even started.

The irony hasn’t been lost on Joundi, who will soon be attending one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

Joundi, 22, was recently awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to attend Oxford University in England. A 2007 graduate of the University of Manitoba’s faculty of science, he is just the 92nd U of M alumnus to receive the prestigious honour.

The idea of Joundi mingling with some of the top academics from across the globe is a little difficult to imagine considering his humble scholastic beginnings. He almost didn’t graduate from kindergarten as a youngster.

“I remember my kindergarten report card said that I was aloof and that I didn’t listen to instructions and that I didn’t interact with other children, and that they were barely going to pass me,” he recently recalled.

By his next report card he was reading at a Grade 6 level and was excelling in every subject.

Joundi is currently attending medical school at Queen’s University. He will travel to Oxford next September to begin work on his neuroscience degree.

Joundi was born in Montreal and moved to Winnipeg with his family when he was three months old. They have lived in Charleswood since.

A huge fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a youngster, Joundi took up karate at the age of six and has remained involved in the sport. He holds a black belt and has started teaching children.

“It’s not just a physical sport for me. It helps, at a young age or old age or whenever, to develop focus, concentration, discipline,” he said.

Harold Abosh, Joundi’s karate instructor, has been teaching the martial art for more than 30 years. He says that he knew right away that Joundi was a determined individual and has been impressed by his subsequent growth.

“The key thing he has demonstrated over the years is that he’s willing to do whatever it takes on a persistent and consistent basis,” Abosh says.

Joundi graduated from St. Paul’s High School in 2004 with a 98.5 average. He went on to study science at the U of M where he graduated with a bachelor of science and a 4.4 grade point average.

Joundi says applying for the Rhodes Scholarship was almost an afterthought and he never expected to actually receive it. The application process included having to write numerous essays and participating in two rounds of interviews, with the final interview conducted in Calgary in late November.

Joundi counts his family as his biggest supporters. They were the first people he called when he found out about the scholarship.

“It was probably one of the only times in my life when I was speechless,” said his sister, Talia, who’s in Grade 12 at Balmoral Hall School. “I literally held the phone without saying anything.”

Joundi said he felt disbelief, shock and then relief when he learned about receiving the scholarship, adding he doesn’t feel any added pressure because of it.

“I want to contribute to the world in some way,” he said.

Following his time at Oxford, Joundi will return to Queen’s to complete his medical degree. He plans on being a clinician and conducting research to help enhance patient treatments.

Talia says his family would have been proud of Raed regardless of whether or not he received the Rhodes, but she thinks her brother deserved it.

“He hates when I say it, but I’m so proud.”


By Trevor Suffield

Dec. 18, 2008

After spending 17 years working as a licensed practical nurse, Eleanor Robinson decided it was time to retire.

Robinson was married to a farmer, had four beautiful children together and had earned time off after working as an aide at the care home in Minnedosa where she grew up and still lived.

Eighteen months ago Robinson’s world was tossed upside down when she was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS.

Last month Robinson, 70, moved into Brummitt-Feasby House in the Sturgeon Creek area. Brummitt-Feasby provides care and support to individuals with ALS. It was donated by the stepdaughters of Dorothy Brummitt-Feasby, who died of ALS in 2000. It officially opened in 2005 and includes four bedrooms overlooking Sturgeon Creek and a four-seasons sunroom.

ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease as it’s also commonly known as, is a rapidly progressive, fatal neuromuscular disease which causes muscle paralysis.

More than 3,000 Canadians currently live with ALS, according to the ALS Society of Canada. An average of two or three Canadians die every day as a result of ALS. There is no known cause or cure for the disease.

Robinson, who has five grandchildren, didn’t know a lot about the disease but learned quickly. She now has to eat through a feeding tube. She can no longer speak and must communicate by writing on a notepad.

Robinson acknowledged that her condition can sometimes be frustrating. Because she can’t speak, people often think she’s deaf.

Patrick McPhillips, LPN and team leader at Brummitt-Feasby, says ALS sufferers often feel like they are prisoners in their own body.

“One of the things they want people to know is that it doesn’t affect their minds, only their body and muscles,” McPhillips said.

Diana Rasmussen has been involved with the ALS society for over 25 years and is currently the executive director of the organization. She was drawn to the organization because the deadly disease hit close to home.

“It was seeing people with this devastating disease and having people that I knew, a close friend, that died of ALS that made me want to become more and more involved,” she said.

This December, the ALS Society of Manitoba is promoting its Lite Up A Life campaign. The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness and funds for those living at Brummitt-Feasby House.

The society is selling light bulbs that will be placed on 12 Christmas trees located outside the house. The bulbs sell for $5 for three or $10 for seven.

Rasmussen says the campaign is about more than just raising funds.

“It’s about making sure people know what this devastating disease does to people,” said Rasmussen, adding that she hopes the campaign helps make more people aware of Brummitt-Feasby House and the services it provides.

Brummitt-Feasby House has an annual budget of approximately $400,000 and is the only one of its kind in North American, according to McPhillips.

Robinson, who played baseball when she was growing up, says she knows there will be tough times ahead. But she is determined to remain positive and says she’ll “never give up hope for a cure.”

For more information on the Lite Up A Life Campaign, or to donate call 831-1510 or visit


By Trevor Suffield

Dec. 18, 2008

Five years ago, all of Kumaran’s possessions were in a pawnshop, he had no car or phone and was homeless.

Having just been accepted into Manitoba Housing, he heard about Self-Starting Creative Opportunities for People in Employment.

SSCOPE, located at 1000 Notre Dame Ave., is a non-profit organization that assists in the rehabilitation of individuals requiring mental health services by providing them with casual employment.

Kumaran, who requested that his last name not be used, spent 20 years touring the country as a musician. The rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle eventually caught up to him and began to affect his mental health.

“Gradually, over the years the toll of making very minor, small amounts of money with huge amounts of energy output just took its toll,” said Kumaran, who was a member of Winnipeg-based reggae band Inna Riddim.

“I’m sort of a success story in terms of I came here as a client of the mental health industry, just off the street. After four years of just working myself up, I’m actually a salaried employee now,” added Kumaran, who is now a support worker with SSCOPE.

“SSCOPE actually was the perfect job for me and it brought me right out of the dumps.”

SSCOPE offers a variety of services to clients including snow removal, housecleaning and moving. It recently added a Christmas tree delivery and removal service. The tree removal service wasn’t offered until this year because the agency didn’t have enough staff.

“We feel that Christmas is a great time to be thinking of others. It’s obviously when the heart and wallets are open a little bit more,” said Bob Rempel, executive director of SSCOPE.

SSCOPE workers will remove the trees after Christmas and deliver them to one of the City of Winnipeg’s recycling locations or to the Festival du Voyageur, for a donation.

The non-profit organization was established in 1991 with the aim of helping individuals with mental illness get back into the workforce.

Although SSCOPE workers are recovering from depression and anxiety, they are still capable of being productive, Rempel said.

“It’s a pretty good workforce and they’re capable of doing almost anything,” he said, adding that a support worker joins workers on every job and individuals are free to choose when they want to work.

SSCOPE currently employs about 50 workers at any given time. Rempel hopes to see that number double in the next couple of years. Workers are paid minimum wage, which Rempel said is a reasonable return for their time.

The agency currently has an annual budget of nearly $200,000, with the majority of funding coming from the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

“We certainly appreciate the help we get from the WRHA but we want to be at least 50% self-funded,” Rempel said.

Kumaran says one of the biggest challenges for the agency is meeting the needs of both workers and customers.

“We try to be sensitive to both sides,” he said. “People are calling us knowing who we are, and on the other end people might be calling us because we have the best rate in town.”

Kumaran has begun playing music again and is proud of having been able to turn his life around.

“For myself, this has brought me economic stability. It’s brought me structure, form and now I feel like I’m a member of society,” he said.

For more information on SSCOPE’s tree delivery and removal service, call 987-6302, or visit


By Trevor Suffield

Dec. 18, 2008

A Charleswood church is doing its part this holiday season to help struggling farmers in Palestine.

Charleswood United Church, located at 4820 Roblin Blvd., is selling olive oil and olive oil soap that comes from Palestine in an effort to raise funds and awareness for Palestinian farmers.

Pat van Ryssel, who has been attending Charleswood United for more than 20 years, initiated the program after receiving an email from the United Church’s Conference of Manitoba and North Western Ontario asking if anyone wanted to sell the products.

She thought it would be a good seasonal fundraiser and one that the congregation would support.

“I talked a little about the olive oil and that it was a great product, and showed the soaps,” said van Ryssel, who lives in River Heights.

“We set up a little table at church, and it was something that people were really looking for with the vast commercialism of the season, and it really provided a great alternative.”

van Ryssel said the church has received such a good response that it sold out of the olive oil products three Sundays in a row.

Gay Boese of the Steinbach United Church originally brought the olive oil into the province as part of as part of the church’s youth group efforts.

“We had a youth group and we were talking about what we could do as a group,” Boese said.

It was through the church’s United for Peace campaign, that supports peace initiatives around the world, that Boese found the olive oil program and a Canadian distributor, Zatoun, in Toronto.

The church buys the oil and soap from Zatoun, also known as Palestine Peace Awareness Inc., which imports the fair-trade products. This ensures that the farmers receive a fair price for their harvest.

Many olive farmers in Palestine are struggling to make ends meet in recent times. A barrier wall constructed by Israel throughout the West Bank region has made it difficult for some farmers to access their groves and harvest crops.

Each bottle of extra virgin olive oil and four-pack of soap bars cost $20 each. A total of $5 from each bottle goes to the United for Peace campaign, and $15 to Zatoun, which then divides it amongst farmers and different organizations in Palestine that helped produce the product.

More than $5,000 has already been raised for the United for Peace campaign through the sale of olive oil products.

In addition to raising funds for the church’s efforts, the campaign is aimed at educating people here in Manitoba, Boese said.

“I’m doing a lot of learning myself,” he said.

Paula Jeffrey, 15, attends Charleswood United Church and thinks it’s a great idea to sell the olive oil from Palestine.

“I like having it and knowing where it comes from and that the farmers are getting the money they deserve.”

Boese said that the olive oil products are being sold in United churches across Manitoba and Northern Ontario. United churches in in Toronto recently joined the campaign.

“It’s just always amazing when you plant a little wee seed of thought, something you do in a small community, and it takes off,” Boese said.

The olive oil and soap are also available at Sturgeon Creek United Church and Meadowood United Church.


By Trevor Suffield

Dec. 11, 2008

A West Broadway-based home care business is helping provide a little extra Christmas cheer and companionship to local seniors this holiday season.

Julie Donaldson, owner of Home Instead Senior Care, is organizing the Be a Santa to a Senior program that will see less fortunate seniors receive gifts this Christmas.

Donaldson said the program is a good compliment to the other services her company provides and the timing of it couldn’t be better.

“We really see the need of the companionship aspect of the Be a Santa program more than anything,” she said, adding that many seniors feel particularly lonely during the holiday season.

Donaldson started her HISC franchise last September. It provides in-home, non-medical services to seniors, including those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The list of services provided includes companionship, meal preparation, light housekeeping and transportation to and from medical appointments.

The Be a Santa program was originally launched by HISC’s parent company five years ago. Donaldson said she considered initiating the program in Winnipeg last year but felt her business didn’t have the resources in place to do so at the time.

Last year the program delivered more than 400,000 gifts to seniors throughout North America. More than 26,000 volunteers took part in the program.

“The seniors are asked if they want to be part of the program and what they really need,” she said.

“A lot of these are practical things like clothing and slippers, socks, radios for people who live in personal care homes.”

Donaldson said she initially approached a number of local retailers about becoming involved in the program, but didn’t get a very favourable response. As a result, she contacted businesses, seniors homes and churches that her company had previously dealt with.

Age and Opportunity, which provides services to individuals 55-and-older, has been helping to identify seniors who might not have anyone to celebrate with during the holiday season.

Stacy Miller, manager of community services at Age and Opportunity, said the agency’s friendly visiting program targets seniors who are isolated in the community and is a good fit with the Santa program.

“We match up volunteers that provide regular visits to them, and a lot of those individuals are the ones we’re approaching to be in the Be a Santa program,” she said.

A pair of local schools are pitching in to help with the program. St. Paul’s High School will host a gift-wrapping party on Dec. 15 while students at Chapman Elementary School students are providing handmade cards for each gift.

Kim Burnette, who teaches grades five and six at Chapman, said the whole school is involved in the project and will provide more than 100 cards.

“Many of the kids have been saying in the cards happy holidays, enjoy the season or thinking of you,” said Burnette, adding their efforts have helped make students realize that not everyone gets to celebrate Christmas.

Lindsay Chesley, who is in Burnette’s Grade 6 class, said she has really enjoyed working on the cards.

“I usually try to say happy holidays on mine, just in case they don’t celebrate Christmas,” she said.

Added classmate, Sean Laing: “It’s fun because we get so many special opportunities and it’s nice to give back.”

HISC volunteers will begin delivering gifts on Dec. 15. For more information visit


By Trevor Suffield

Dec. 11, 2008

A number of prospective purchasers have already expressed an interest in Canada Safeway’s Ellice Avenue store, which the grocery giant closed earlier this week.

The 1081 Ellice Ave. outlet closed Dec. 10 after 44 years at that location. The West End location was closed to make way for a new flagship store scheduled to open Dec. 11 in Madison Square near Polo Park.

Gloria Cardwell-Hoeppner, executive director of the West End Biz, said there have already been three or four inquiries about the property. However, she said it’s too early to discuss who the interested parties are.

“I have had some inquiries into the space and availability, so that’s interesting,” she said. “The West End is becoming a popular place for businesses and residents to locate, so good space is definitely in demand.

“It would be great to see another grocery store, but I understand that when one store closes they’re not necessarily willing to give up the space to their competition.”

Andrew Swann, the MLA for Minto, continues to receive calls and emails from the community in support of having a full-service grocery store at the location.

Swann said he is not yet aware of any specific plans for the property.

“Safeway has said that they’d be willing to keep the dialogue open,” he said.

“I will take them up on the offer and I’ll repeat what I told them about what the residents said, and hopefully they can give us an idea of what their plans are.”

John Graham, public affairs manager at Canada Safeway, said the company hasn’t begun to review its options for the Ellice Avenue property. Safeway owns the building and the land it is located on.

“We still plan to sit down with Andrew get the community’s input,” Graham said. “And we’ll certainly be moving forward in the new year with a strategy for alternative tenants for the property.”

Chad Balmer, store manager of Valu Lots at 910 Wall St., acknowledged that there was a downside to the closure of the Safeway outlet. However, he added that it could be good news for other area businesses, such as his.

“With business on the rise, we’ve been trying really hard to cater to the area we are in,” he said, adding Valu Lots began planning an expansion and upgrades to its food and pharmacy departments in anticipation of Safeway’s closure.

Wes Schollenberg, commercial division member and past president of the Winnipeg Realtors Association, said he has already fielded some queries regarding the Safeway property.

“Some people have called me on it, and I’ve pretty much told them that it’s not on the market and not available,” he said. “I think if somebody brought them a good proposal they probably would not be in a position to deal with it for many months.

Cardwell-Hoeppner said even though she was disappointed by Safeway’s decision to close the store, it could benefit smaller businesses in the area in the short term.

“It will probably give people in the community an opportunity to experience some of the smaller stores and what they have to offer,” she said.

Cardwell-Hoeppner said she is not sure at this time what she would prefer to see move into the location.

“It’s a good chunk of land, and a good size building, so definitely I could see a larger business, or several businesses grouping together,” she said. “It’s always nice to see mixed use.”


By Trevor Suffield

Dec. 11, 2008

When Kirby Schepp received an email offering him an all expenses paid trip to the Middle East, he thought it was just another bit of spam.

Upon closer inspection, the Sturgeon Heights Collegiate phys-ed teacher discovered it was a genuine offer to travel to Jordan to teach a basketball clinic.

Less than two weeks later, Schepp traveled to Amman to take part in Generations for Peace. The aim of the program is to empower youth leaders through sport and make positive improvements in their home country.

Jordan’s Generations of Peace organization, which financed the trip, was established in 2007 by His Royal Highness Prince Feisal Al Hussein to promote peace through sport.

Looking for an experienced coach, Generations for Peace contacted the Coaching Association of Canada, who contacted Basketball Canada, who then recommended Schepp.

Schepp, who attended John Taylor Collegiate and still lives in St. James, admitted it was difficult leaving his wife and their 17-month-old child behind, even if for just a few days.

“I got a little bit homesick, but really enjoyed it,” he said, adding he knew very little about the region before his trip.

Schepp admits he felt a sense of culture shock as soon as he stepped off the plane in Jordan.

“It’s a completely different world obviously. Everything is in Arabic. I didn’t have any idea where my hotel was, who was picking me up, where I was going, nothing,” said Schepp, 34, who coaches basketball at Sturgeon Heights.

Schepp eventually found a ride — and says he has nothing but positive memories of his brief time in the Jordan.

“I was treated unbelievably well, like a VIP delegate,” he says.

Schepp had a day to get acclimatized to his surroundings. After that, his mornings were filled with teaching delegates from Africa and the Middle East on how to be effective coaches and how to set up sports programs in their respective countries.

“We facilitated group discussions, sat down and discussed problems in their countries and what causes them and what are some of the ways we can get around these issues,” said Schepp, who certifies local coaches as part of the National Coaching Certification Program.

Afternoons in Jordan were sports specific, with instructors in everything from soccer to softball to basketball holding court.

Schepp says basketball took a backseat to the relationships he established while in Jordan.

“The best part was probably the interactions with the people, and learning their situations and then feeding off their passion for sports and passion for improving their countries,” said Schepp, who managed to snorkel in the Red Sea and play soccer on a beach with people from 14 different countries.

Schepp nows plans to pass along the knowledge he gained in Jordan to his own students and athletes.

Schepp’s willingness to help others doesn’t come as much of a surprise to one of his former mentors.

Bill Wedlake coached Schepp for two seasons (2000-02) when Wedlake was the head coach of the University of Winnipeg Wesmen men’s basketball team. It was also Wedlake who cut him after two seasons with the squad.

“He wasn’t good enough,” Wedlake said. laughing.

Schepp later rejoined the team as an assistant coach and was part of Wedlake’s coaching staff for five seasons.

“He seized that and turned a problem into an opportunity,” said Wedlake, who is now executive director of the Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference. “And boy oh boy, everything has just fallen into place for him. I am so very proud of him.”


By Trevor Suffield

Dec. 4, 2008

Members of the public will soon get a glimpse at a $3.8 million makeover of the Rady Jewish Community Centre in Tuxedo.

Rady Centre officials will host a grand re-opening celebration Dec. 7, at which visitors will get to see the results of the 18-month renovation project.

The centre, located in the Asper Jewish Community Campus at 123 Doncaster St., is a not-for-profit recreation and fitness facility. It opened 10 years ago and centre officials felt the time had come for it to be upgraded.

Gayle Waxman, executive director of the centre, said considerable time and effort went into renovating the building. She said the upgrades were needed to keep up with the membership’s demand for services.

“When the building was initially planned they anticipated that we would have maybe 3,000 people,” said Waxman, adding the centre has been so successful that it now has more than 5,100 members.

The centre, which offers cultural and recreational activities to both Jewish and non-Jewish members of the community, is now state-of-the-art, Waxman said.

“Times change, and we wanted to keep up and keep current,” she said.

The 52,000-sq. ft. upgraded facility has a new 82-space day-care centre as well as an expanded fitness area and improved locker rooms. It was designed by Grant Van Iderstine of Smith Carter architects.

Waxman said because space at the location is limited, centre officials could not expand the facility’s existing footprint. That meant they had to find ways to make the most of existing space.

The centre is now home to an XRKade ‘exergaming’ room. Visitors to the room can actively participate in video games such as snowboarding or boxing while exercising.

According to Waxman, the room is the only one in Winnipeg where “the players are like human joysticks.”

The Rady Centre remained open to the public throughout renovations.

Elana Greene, who lives in Wolseley and has been going to the Rady Centre for eight years, admitted it was sometimes difficult dealing with construction. However, the final results were worth the wait, she said.

“I like the new equipment, and there is more space for cross-training,” she said as she exercised on the new Cardio Wave machine, which simulates an ice-skating motion. “The location is great and there is a lot of light.”

For educator Richard Swyston, the Rady Centre offers more than just a place to work out.

“The social dimension for the Jew and non-Jew to network and connect is great,” said Swyston, who returned recently from a teaching trip to Hong Kong and struck up a conversation with another visitor to the centre.

The renovations were paid for in part through fundraising efforts by the Asper Jewish Community Campus. The federal and provincial governments also contributed.

Scott Johnston travels six days a week from Windsor Park to work out at the centre. While his wife has reservations about all the travel, Johnston said he does it “to work out the body and mind.”

Waxman, who just signed up for personal training herself, said the retention rate of existing members has risen in the past year but hopes the wide range of activities offered for families bring in even more people.

“It took a few years, but the campaign met their goal and the dream happened,” Waxman said. “Or re-happened, I guess, because it was a dream the first time.”

For more information about the centre visit


By Trevor Suffield

Dec. 4, 2008

Wendy Waggoner has been thinking about Christmas on an almost daily basis for the past 20 years.

Waggoner has been a volunteer at the Festival of Trees and Lights since its inception in 1988. As soon as one festival ends, she begins planning for the next.

The festival features decorated trees and ornaments to help get people in the Christmas spirit. It has been held at the Assiniboine Park Conservatory for the past 10 years.

The festival was originally a joint effort of the Junior League of Winnipeg and the Health Sciences Centre Foundation. The Junior League subsequently disbanded and in 2006 the operation of the festival was turned over to the conservatory.

Waggoner, who lives in St. James, first became involved with the Junior League nearly 30 years ago when she was looking for something to do after her youngest child started going to school.

Waggoner, 66, has been involved in every festival and marvels at how it has evolved from when it was first held at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.

“We had a children’s area that ran the whole time. We don’t have the room here,” Waggoner said.

Helene Fairbanks, executive director of the Friends of the Assiniboine Park Conservatory, was a volunteer at the first festival in 1988. She moved away from the city for a while but was eager to get involved with the festival again when she returned to Winnipeg two years ago.

“There might have been a hundred people helping out when it first started,” she said.

More than 200 volunteers are involved in the current festival, although only a dozen individuals are required to do the bulk of the work because of the smaller venue.

Last year’s festival was sold out and organizers say this year’s event is on pace to do likewise.

“I think it’s a nice warm place to come and visit with the family,” Fairbanks said.

The decorated trees on display at the festival are raffled off for charity. All proceeds from ticket sales will go to Special Olympics Manitoba and Friends of the Assiniboine Park Conservatory. Gingerbread houses made by students will also be raffled off during the festival, which has raised more than $500,000 local charities since 1988.

Esther Warkentin attended this year’s festival with her granddaughter, Cassia, because she wanted her to experience the event firsthand.

“This year she definitely is taking it all in,” said Warkentin as Cassia marveled at the trees.

Waggoner, who enjoys bringing her own grandkids to the festival, says she plans to remain involved with it for as long as she can.

“Christmas to me just means family, and being together,” she says.

The Festival of Trees and Lights continues until Dec. 7. For more information visit


By Trevor Suffield

Dec. 4, 2008

If Bretton Tyler doesn’t go on to play in the NBA one day, it won’t be because of his diabetes.

Bretton, who lives in Charleswood, was diagnosed at the age of two with Type 1 diabetes and hasn’t really known a life without it.

Bretton, 12, is the Children’s Hospital Foundation’s 2008 Champion Child. The role will see him sharing his story with different groups on behalf of the foundation.

Tyler was born in Saskatchewan and suffered through an assortment of ailments as a baby but it wasn’t until he became ill while travelling with his family to visit his grandparents that he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

His parents, Shelly and Todd Tyler, took him to a family doctor who told them to take him to the emergency room at Children’s Hospital.

Shelly Tyler said it was a difficult time for the family, but knowing what her son was suffering from made a big difference.

“It was crushing, but as soon as we found out what it was the sense of relief,” she said.

“I was diagnosed at 32 weeks pregnant with gestational diabetes so I knew about checking blood sugar and I knew about counting carbs. It’s not that it’s easy, it’s just that I didn’t feel so scared.”

There have been some scary moments, though. During one 12-hour period doctors had to lower Tyler’s blood sugar levels to prevent his brain from becoming fatally swollen.

Type 1 diabetes affects the body’s immune system, making it unable to produce insulin that helps regulate the level of sugar in a person’s blood. More than two million Canadians suffer from diabetes.

There is currently no known cause or cure for diabetes. However, Dr. Shayne Taback, a researcher at the Manitoba Institute of Child Health, is examining the effects of vitamin D on the immune system.

“What we’re looking at is whether or not vitamin D would help protect the immune system, keep it balanced and avoid making this mistake,” Taback said, noting that this could help prevent the onset of the diabetes.

Recent studies have shown that children who live in environments with less sunlight than others are more likely to develop Type 1 diabetes, he added.

Bretton is not involved in the study, but his mom is excited about the promise it holds for others.

“As a parent I would have loved to have known that information,” she said.

Bretton, who attends Charleswood Junior High School, is an avid basketball player. He says his condition doesn’t really affect his day-to-day life.

“Sometimes when I play lots of basketball I have to come out of a drill because my blood sugar is low and I have to check it and have a juice or some form of sugar,” he said.

If Bretton doesn’t get to play for his favorite team, the Toronto Raptors, his mom thinks he would be a natural at public speaking.

“We have him on video when he was two and he was just diagnosed. He used to take the cushion from the chair and stand it up and give speeches about diabetes,” she said.

“We used to joke about it but that’s exactly what he’s doing now this year. And I really think that he will always be an advocate for it in some kind of role.”


By Trevor Suffield

Dec. 4, 2008

When Markus Howell was a student at Daniel McIntyre Collegiate, he used to purposely miss catching the bus at one side of the Arlington Street bridge, then sprint to catch it at the other end.

While this kind of training might seem out of the ordinary, it’s hard to argue with the results it produced.

Howell, 33, was a member of the Calgary Stampeders team that beat the host Montreal Alouettes 22-14 in this year’s Grey Cup, held Nov. 23 in Olympic Stadium.

“It’s surreal right now, it feels good. It’s validating all that hard work you put in,” Howell said of his team’s Grey Cup win.

Howell was originally drafted by the hometown Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2000 and played with them for five seasons before signing with the Ottawa Renegades. He joined Calgary in 2006 after the Stamps selected him in the Ottawa dispersal draft.

The former Daniel Mac Maroon was a jack of all trades for the Stamps this past season. In addition to returning punts, he also saw action as a receiver and defensive back. He ranked fifth on the team in all-purpose yards (913) during the regular season and was the Stamps’ leading punt returner (591 yards on 67 returns).

This year’s Grey Cup was the second time Howell got to play in the CFL’s premiere game. He was a member of the Bombers in 2001 when they lost to the Stampeders in that year’s championship.

Howell said he kept reminding his Calgary teammates this year about his missed shot — and warned them not to take this opportunity for granted.

Howell grew up in north Winnipeg and was heavily into basketball and track and field. Surprisingly, he didn’t begin playing organized football until his senior year of high school.

Brad Purpur, who was Howell’s football coach at Daniel McIntyre, talked him into trying the game by promising him that it would make him a better player on the basketball court.

“Once he came out we knew right away that he was the kind of guy we had to get the ball to,” said Purpur, head of the Phys. Ed. department at Daniel Mac.

Purpur pushed Howell, then a skinny kid, to work out and really study football.

“He worked hard at making sure his patterns were crisp, and his cuts were good and his hands were always in the right position to catch the ball,” the former coach recalled.

“As time went on he became our go-to guy, catching almost anything coming towards him.”

After high school, Howell went on to study and play ball at Texas Southern University. While there, he earned a degree in finance, but wasn’t sure about a career as a football player.

“At that point you don’t know if you’re going to be a pro ball player or not, you’re just going down there to further your education. But once you hit your senior year, and scouts start showing up, and CFL teams come down to watch you play, you realize you have a shot at this thing,” said Howell, who lives in Garden City in the off-season.

Howell has taken off-season jobs at various taxation and banking institutions and is considering a full-time career in finance when is football career is over.

That time could be sooner rather than later. After nine seasons as a pro, Howell has begun spending a lot more time contemplating his post-football life recently.

“I’d like to be in foreign exchange somewhere, dealing with different currencies, but I got to leave Winnipeg for that,” he said, adding that he hopes he can find a job in his hometown.

Still, Howell isn’t quite done with football yet.

“We’re already talking repeat. The Grey Cup is in Calgary next year so we have a good chance of playing in that game at home and winning another one,” he says.


By Trevor Suffield

Nov. 27, 2008

People attending a recent open house on property tax reassessment say they are concerned by the steep increases in the assessed values of their homes.

Approximately 788 people attended the open house, which was held last week at Heritage Victory Community Centre in St. James. It was hosted by the City of Winnipeg and was the third in a series of presentations the city is staging to inform residents about reassessment and answer any questions they might have on the subject.

Residents of St. James and Charleswood received letters from the city earlier this month informing them of the preliminary estimate of the value of their property for 2010. Residents in other parts of the city will be receiving similar letters in the coming months.

One Charleswood resident said she was shocked when she received her reassessment notice.

“It’s shocking the way the price of homes went up so much,” said Gertrude, who declined the give her last name. She has lived in Charleswood for 28 years and said, “I think we’ll still be shocked in 2010.”

Another Charleswood resident who attended the open house said she was alarmed when she received her preliminary reassessment notice and wanted to find out if she could do anything about it.

“I’m concerned about the increase. I won’t be able to finance the increase with all the prices going up,” said Pat, who declined to give her last name.

“I would hope it changes. A person has to have some hope.”

Residential home values have increased an average of 78% across the city, with St. James at 76% and Charleswood at 78%. The highest increase was in the inner city at 117%. In 2004, the last time Winnipeg properties were reassessed, the average increase was 23%.

Winnipeggers will receive their 2010 general assessment next July. The city will then change to a two-year reassessment schedule, rather than the four-year model which is currently used, in order to better reflect the recent market values.

The values are based on potential selling prices of residences at a specific point in time under normal market conditions. April 1, 2008 is the date that was used for the current reassessment.

According to Brent McIntyre, area coordinator for the residential, farm and condo group for the city’s assessment and taxation department, Winnipeg might be the only jurisdiction in Canada that conducts reassessment open houses.

“For the most part, people leave here satisfied. They’ve had the face-to-face contact, they’ve had their questions explained,” he said.

“I’ve yet to see a handful of people that have gone away from this experience that haven’t been satisfied.”

Ten city workers are available at the open house to help people through the reassessment process and changes can be made on the spot, according to McIntyre.

“We do make changes if the assessor feels it’s legitimate, and we will tell the people their new value at that point in time,” he said.

McIntyre said the number of people attending the open houses has declined since the previous assessment four years ago. He attributes the drop to more people getting their information online or calling the assessment department’s help line.

The most common question homeowners have for city officials is how reassessment will affect their taxes. He said it’s still to early to know the answer.

“We’re not in a position to know what the impact for taxes is going to be until 2010. School divisions and the city don’t establish their budgets until the spring of 2010,” he said.

More information on tax reassessment and dates for the city’s open houses are available online at


By Trevor Suffield

Nov. 27, 2008

Like many kids his age, Dustin Singh got to enjoy a pizza dinner with his family at his favourite restraurant last week.

While many youngsters might take such an outing for granted, Singh, 11, savoured every minute of it. That’s because until just recently such trips were very difficult for him and his family.

Singh suffers from spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. His family used to have to take him out of his wheelchair, fold up the chair in the back of their car and then place Singh inside the car.

That all changed two weeks ago when the Singhs received a brand new 2007 Chevy Uplander van with a wheelchair ramp. The van was made possible thanks to a number of community-based initiatives, including a giant garage sale and a social, that helped raise funds for the family.

The Singhs, whose story was originally chronicled in the Canstar community papers this past August, say the new vehicle has made a world of difference for their family.

Singh’s father, Ravi, said the van allows the family to be much more mobile and Dustin loves it.

“He’s enjoying it. He gets to go out a lot more,” said Ravi. “It’s so wonderful. We can just take Dustin and put him in the van and go.”

The first place Singh said he wanted to go when the family got the van was Pizza Hut.

Last week, the Singhs travelled to the Pizza Hut location at 2770 Pembina Highway to thank some of the people who played a key role in helping them. The restaurant supplied food for the event free of charge.

Family, friends and representatives from the service organizations that helped the Singhs were on-hand to celebrate the occasion. Singh’s mother, Jackie, said the family couldn’t have done it without their support.

“There were people we didn’t know dropping stuff off (for the garage sale), and they just wanted to help us to raise money for the van,” she said.

“There were kids that came in and gave us little bags of their saved up money, so we were very pleased. These kids have hearts, and now they can see what they bought.”

Chris Smokal and his family were there to celebrate as well. Smokal met the Singhs after reading their story and introduced himself to them at the garage sale.

One of Smokal’s daughters, Marie, also has cerebral palsy, so he felt an instant connection with them.

“From there, we got together and we’ve been talking, and have been friends ever since,” he said.

Smokal also helped to renovate the Singh’s kitchen, which had mould in it this past summer.

The Singhs raised $11,200 towards the purchase of the van. They also received $12,090 from the Children’s Special Services, $6,000 from the Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation and $20,000 for the wheelchair ramp from President’s Choice Children’s Charities.

Chris Schollenberg, development officer for the Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation, said that occasions like last week’s party are the best part of her job.

“This is where you get to see the end result, all the hard work that’s come through. And you can see the support they have, and there’s lots of love,” Schollenberg said.

Jackie admitted that it has been a difficult journey for her family to get to this point.

“It’s hard, but we have it now,” she said. “I said to my husband I never want to go through it again. But I would do it for anyone else that needs the help.