Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION

Volunteers a key part of Festival family

Volunteer co-ordinator praises the contribution of annual helpers

  • Print

Karen San Filippo believes volunteers are an integral part of the Festival du Voyageur family.


The St. Boniface resident and volunteer co-ordinator at Festival — which runs until Feb. 24 — says more than 1,000 volunteers from across the city step forward every year, although they are not all necessarily francophone.


"It’s one of the misconceptions about Festival that you have to speak French, and speak French well, to be a volunteer," San Filippo said.


"You want to give the ambiance of a French festival, so you need to have a good francophone volunteer base, but Festival is about being all-inclusive, especially when you consider all the tourists coming in, so you need a lot of English volunteers, too."


San Filippo co-ordinates volunteers in the Festival Park area around Fort Gibraltar, which includes the four large entertainment tents, the snow sculptures and play areas for kids.


"Safety is important. We make sure people don’t get too near to the fire and the people helping with parking make sure people don’t get blocked in or the lot gets overrun," San Filippo said, noting this year’s new online registration system for volunteers.


"We also want to maximize the number of kids using the slide and, in the tents, we make sure nobody goes behind the stage."


San Filippo is also pleased to see many high school kids, among others, return each year to volunteer, as it gives them opportunities outside of the school environment.


"It’s great to see these students from French immersion seeing French as a living language outside of the classroom," she said.


"It’s also good for adults with rusty language skills, who can greet visitors with a ‘bonjour’ and try French dialogue and then switch to English if they’re not sure. Visitors appreciate the gesture."


"As well, it’s a good opportunity for French-speaking Africans who are new to Canada — from countries such as Senegal and Rwanda — to pick up references. I’m there all week, so I can see if they’re cold or struggling," San Filippo added.


The Farrell family from Dugald, Man., — which includes dad, Jack, and 12-year-old Jake — has embraced the volunteer opportunities at Festival for the past four years.


"It’s a great family activity and the kids enjoy it definitely. It’s become part of our tradition now and it’s a way to give back to the community and do something we wouldn’t normally do," said mom, Jane.


"It’s a well-organized, friendly atmosphere and you feel appreciated and valued. And the kids have enjoyed the responsibility," Jane added.


Josh, 10, has enjoyed volunteering on the toboggan run.


"It’s kind of like a good experience. Helping out other people warms your heart and I love it," Josh said.


"Once, when this kid got stuck (in his sled), I had to grab the rope and pull him from the side, he added. Charlotte, eight, also enjoys being part of the Festival scene.


"I like the snow lots. In the maze, the idea is basically to get through and not get lost. Some people have gotten lost, so I walk around and check if people are lost," Charlotte said.


"It means a lot to me, because I like being part of a community."

simon.fuller@canstarnews.com

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Fall Arts Guide

We preview what’s new and what’s coming up in Winnipeg’s new arts season

View our Fall Arts Guide

Readers' Choice Awards

Best Of Winnipeg Readers Survey

See the results of the 2014 Canstar Community News Best of Winnipeg Readers' Survey.

View Results

This Just In Twitter bird

Poll

Do you agree with the Winnipeg School Division’s decision to ban e-cigarettes?

View Results