• Zellers (February 12, 2013) / Target (March 23, 2015)
  • The lights of the aurora borealis over Lake Winnipeg at Victoria Beach late at night on March 18th. A geomagnetic storm sent solar rays soaring into the Earth's atmosphere, leading to significant northern lights activity that was visible across much of North America March 18 and 19th. (Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press)
  • (Front to back) Risa Shatford, Nadia Minkevich, and Wayne Shatford head into the lake to cool off at Lake of the Woods. July 27, 2014
  • Palestinian supporters hold a rally at the Manitoba Legislative Building. July 14, 2014.

This image is from a rally against the Israel bombing of Gaza. It reminds me of the freedom we still have in this country to gather freely, unlike those who live under unjust regimes and occupation. — John Woods
  • As a photojournalist, our job is to take pictures that tell stories.  If those photos evoke emotion in the viewer, then better yet.  The photo that moves me the most this past year is that of Bradley Bone, the 16-year-old pall bearer at Tina Fontaine's funeral who stepped outside his comfort zone to give her one last hug goodbye. On Aug. 23, I attended Tina Fontaine's funeral in Sagkeeng First Nation. After the formal service was over, the six pallbearers, all cousins of Tina, had gathered around her casket quietly, waiting for the hearse to arrive. Bradley Bone, one of the pallbearers, referred to Tina as his 'little sister.'  I had asked the family ahead of time if I could photograph Tina's final journey and they agreed. It was during this time of waiting that Bradley, unable to hold back his emotions any longer, made a bold move to say goodbye in his own way to Tina by wrapping his arms around her coffin and laying his body across its case. It was an impromptu show of affection that happened so quickly, I barely caught a few frames on my camera. There wasn't any time to analyze my position, check the lighting, or even crop the photo. The heartfelt display of emotion was quick, raw and fleeting; I couldn't risk missing it by moving. As the family could not have an open casket funeral due to her being pulled from the damaging waters of the Red River and the monstrous crime committed against her, the closest Bradley could get to her to say goodbye, one last time, was to hug her casket. This image to me is symbolic, for as this teenage boy wrapped his arms around his little cousin one last time, so too has a nation wrapped their arms around the issue of murdered and missing aboriginal women in our nation.  - Ruth Bonneville

Images from around the world chosen by the photo desk at the Winnipeg Free Press.

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  • May 5, 2014

    A peek behind the scenes of exotic dancing in Winnipeg

    Women like Aurora Sky are leered at, fantasized about, marginalized and shunned. They can be used up, exploited and spit out. But they can also be grossly misunderstood. At age 27, Aurora - the mother of two young boys - has been earning money as an exotic dancer with Superb Entertainment Agency for 10 years. Superb sends dancers like Aurora to perform at dozens of bars around Winnipeg and the rest of the province. Gisela Wuensch, 79, was one of those dancers, as was Robin Skolnik. Rick Irving and Mitch Fillion manage Superb Entertainment, and effectively all exotic dancing in Winnipeg. Photos by Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press

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  • Aurora Sky checks herself out in the mirror in a Chalet Hotel room before going on stage for the Miss Nude Winnipeg Contest at Teasers Burlesque Palace in early April.

    Aurora Sky checks herself out in the mirror in a Chalet Hotel room before going on stage for the Miss Nude Winnipeg Contest at Teasers Burlesque Palace in early April. Photo Store

  • While on stage Aurora says she often doesn't think of the men watching her dance, instead she thinks of

    While on stage Aurora says she often doesn't think of the men watching her dance, instead she thinks of "daily life things," like what she might make for dinner. Photo Store

  • Aurora struts on stage through the pieces of her discarded costume. Massive platform heeled shoes is a common theme in exotic dancer costumes.

    Aurora struts on stage through the pieces of her discarded costume. Massive platform heeled shoes is a common theme in exotic dancer costumes. Photo Store

  • Aurora says she learned how to do pole spinning work, like this inverted spin, just by

    Aurora says she learned how to do pole spinning work, like this inverted spin, just by "doing it." Photo Store

  • Aurora finishes curling her hair before a

    Aurora finishes curling her hair before a "jam day," while her son Darius - who is potty training - collects a new diaper. Aurora might perform at up to 10 bars in one day on a "jam day." Photo Store

  • On the second stop of

    On the second stop of "jam day" at the Assiniboine Gordon Inn on the Park. The second of six dances at six different bars on a Thursday in April. Photo Store

  • Aurora gets dressed in the bathroom at the Assiniboine Gordon before her 4pm show. Often the bathrooms of bars are used as makeshift dressing room for dancers.

    Aurora gets dressed in the bathroom at the Assiniboine Gordon before her 4pm show. Often the bathrooms of bars are used as makeshift dressing room for dancers. Photo Store

  • Aurora has been with her partner since she first started dancing. They met while she was a server at a bar, and started dating around the same time she started dancing. They have two sons, Darius, 2, and Gabriel, 5. Rob works as a soffit & fascia contractor on new home construction.

    Aurora has been with her partner since she first started dancing. They met while she was a server at a bar, and started dating around the same time she started dancing. They have two sons, Darius, 2, and Gabriel, 5. Rob works as a soffit & fascia contractor on new home construction. Photo Store

  • Aurora considers herself a stay-at-home mom. She works majority of weekends and and weeknights, with some day shows. But generally she's at home with her youngest son, and can drop her eldest off at school each day.

    Aurora considers herself a stay-at-home mom. She works majority of weekends and and weeknights, with some day shows. But generally she's at home with her youngest son, and can drop her eldest off at school each day. Photo Store

  • Aurora essentially works full-time hours dancing, depending on when Rick Irving of Superb Entertainment books her for shows.

    Aurora essentially works full-time hours dancing, depending on when Rick Irving of Superb Entertainment books her for shows. Photo Store

  • After her contest show at Teasers, Aurora returns to the hotel room to shower before heading home. Aurora didn't place in the contest.

    After her contest show at Teasers, Aurora returns to the hotel room to shower before heading home. Aurora didn't place in the contest. Photo Store

  • Rick Irving (right) with his partner Mitch Fillion in their living room. Irving runs Superb Entertainment Agency from an office space in the renovated White House on Portage Avenue. The agency books hundreds of dancers - mostly female - to dozens of bars around Winnipeg and other parts of the province.

    Rick Irving (right) with his partner Mitch Fillion in their living room. Irving runs Superb Entertainment Agency from an office space in the renovated White House on Portage Avenue. The agency books hundreds of dancers - mostly female - to dozens of bars around Winnipeg and other parts of the province. Photo Store

  • Robin Skolnik is a former dancer and the owner of the Chalet Hotel and Teaser's Burlesque Palace. She retired from exotic dancing with Superb in 2007 to manage the now closed Sin City, before buying the Chalet Hotel. Skolnik was a feature dancer performing elaborate routines with swings, strobe lights and a $2,000 Lord of the Rings costume.

    Robin Skolnik is a former dancer and the owner of the Chalet Hotel and Teaser's Burlesque Palace. She retired from exotic dancing with Superb in 2007 to manage the now closed Sin City, before buying the Chalet Hotel. Skolnik was a feature dancer performing elaborate routines with swings, strobe lights and a $2,000 Lord of the Rings costume. Photo Store

  • Gisela Wuensch, 80, is a former dancer who worked for Rick Irving. She now lives in Beausejour, and her trailer home is covered with photos of Elvis in every room.

    Gisela Wuensch, 80, is a former dancer who worked for Rick Irving. She now lives in Beausejour, and her trailer home is covered with photos of Elvis in every room. Photo Store

  • Photos of Gisela Wuensch from her dancing days in decades past.

    Photos of Gisela Wuensch from her dancing days in decades past. Photo Store

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