Gabrielle Piché

Gabrielle Piché

Reporter

Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning.

She’s back at the Winnipeg Free Press after spending the summer of 2020 there as an intern. In between, she wrote for Canstar’s weekly newspapers, covering everything from health to housing.

She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020, as everyone was grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, she finished her bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Winnipeg.

Gabby has chased stories across the province: she’s written for newspapers in the Interlake, Headingley and downtown Winnipeg. She won the Eric and Jack Wells Excellence in Journalism award in her final year of school, and she’s thrilled to be back at the Free Press.

Recent articles of Gabrielle Piché

Waging a battle over wages

Gabrielle Piché 6 minute read Preview

Waging a battle over wages

Gabrielle Piché 6 minute read Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022

One Winnipeg business is hoping to set a trend — a $16 per hour minimum wage.

However, if a rate hike of that proportion were legislated, it could be a death blow to some companies, according to a business lobby group.

Sixteen per cent of businesses are currently considering bankruptcy or winding down operations, said Brianna Solberg, senior policy analyst for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’s prairies and northern Canada branch.

“Any further cost increases at this time could mean the final nail in the coffin for some,” Solberg said.

Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022

SASHA SEFTER / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Junction 59 Roadhouse employees currently earn minimum wage plus tips. A supervisor at the Regent Ave. eatery says a significant bump in the minimum wage would affect a large percentage of the costs.

Sugar Blossom Jewelery opens boutique in St. Boniface

Gabrielle Piché 5 minute read Preview

Sugar Blossom Jewelery opens boutique in St. Boniface

Gabrielle Piché 5 minute read Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022

A slice of St. Boniface has turned gold.

Until August, Sugar Blossom Jewelry sold its wares online and through other retailers — to Chapters Indigo, to Anthropologie, to fashion bloggers and everyday customers.

On Tuesday, the Winnipeg-based brand opened its first storefront at 138 Provencher Blvd. It’s the latest accomplishment for founder Kelli Miller.

“It’s weird to open up the doors to be like… ‘This is our studio,’” Miller, 37, said.

Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Kelli Miller, owner of Sugar Blossom Jewelry, has just opened a storefront at 138 Provencher Boulevard.

Cycling couple peddles adaptive, electric and traditional bikes at their Wolseley shop

Gabrielle Piché 6 minute read Preview

Cycling couple peddles adaptive, electric and traditional bikes at their Wolseley shop

Gabrielle Piché 6 minute read Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022

When the flowers are out, the doors are open.

Open to the Wolseley resident bringing their bike for repair. Open to the Treherne family buying their first electric bikes. Open to the person in a wheelchair wanting to a test an adaptive bike.

“It’s all about getting people to ride, from whatever health and body situation they have,” said Suzanne Druwé, co-owner of Prairie Velo.

She and Brian Szklarczuk, her husband, have planted their business at 967 Wolseley Ave., formerly known to locals as the Kit Kat building.

Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022

Johnny G’s, Tuxedo Village/Monstrosity Burger put up for sale; Forth Café quietly shuts down

Gabrielle Piché 4 minute read Preview

Johnny G’s, Tuxedo Village/Monstrosity Burger put up for sale; Forth Café quietly shuts down

Gabrielle Piché 4 minute read Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022

It’s a season of change for some well-known Winnipeg eateries.

Both Johnny G’s on McDermot Avenue — a decades-old establishment — and Tuxedo Village Family Restaurant, which made headlines for flouting pandemic-era public health rules, are up for sale.

And Forth Café, also on McDermot Avenue, has permanently shut its doors.

Johnny Giannakis, owner of Johnny G’s, says the plan for his 177 McDermot Ave. bar — and Wee Johnny’s Irish Pub, the downstairs comedy club — is to continue as is under new ownership, he said.

Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022

ETHAN CAIRNS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The Johnny G’s/Wee Johnny’s building on McDermot Avenue has been put up for sale at a cost of nearly 1.4 million dollars.

Tracking-app creator tracks progress for women entrepreneurs

Gabrielle Piché 4 minute read Preview

Tracking-app creator tracks progress for women entrepreneurs

Gabrielle Piché 4 minute read Monday, Aug. 8, 2022

Ivy Châtelain was born with many labels — autistic, female, Métis.

The 26-year-old has been adding her own descriptors: actress, entrepreneur, and now, first-ever recipient of a North Forge Technology Exchange award for Indigenous women.

The recognition comes amid a sharp drop in females using North Forge’s business start-up programs.

“I hope I can be someone that (people) look up to and that they can say, ‘Hey, if she can do it, I can do it,’” Châtelain said.

Monday, Aug. 8, 2022

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

‘I grew up being bullied and hated being different,’ says Ivy Châtelain, who identifies as autistic and Métis. ‘Now I’m just like… ‘If I wasn’t different, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing.’’

Inflation melting seasonal businesses

Gabrielle Piché 5 minute read Preview

Inflation melting seasonal businesses

Gabrielle Piché 5 minute read Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022

Soaring inflation and rising fuel costs are melting away the profits of a summer tradition — ice cream trucks and bikes.

Those same pressures are also taking a bite out of many of the city’s hot dog carts.

Ice cream trucks and street vendors — like hot dog stands — are grappling with what some call their worst year, between inflation, storms and other factors beyond their control.

“I’ve never had to raise my prices as high as I have because of the ice cream prices and the fuel and everything, the cost of parts,” said Jeff Hubka, owner of Dickie Dee Ice Cream in Winnipeg.

Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022

ETHAN CAIRNS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Extreme weather and rising costs have taken a bite out of Dickie Dee's business, says owner Jeff Hubka.

Online cremation service offers a simple and affordable alternative to traditional funerals

Gabrielle Piché 4 minute read Preview

Online cremation service offers a simple and affordable alternative to traditional funerals

Gabrielle Piché 4 minute read Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022

A few clicks, a few forms and a phone call, and a loved one’s cremation is arranged.

Lee Barringer watched the funeral landscape shift during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He was general manager of Cropo Funeral Chapel, Winnipeg’s largest independent funeral home. Often, gathering sizes were restricted; families watched live-streamed services or minimized their number of attendees.

“A lot of times, families couldn’t have everyone come into the arrangement room,” Barringer said.

Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022

ETHAN CAIRNS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Customers call Lee Barringer — any time, any day — and fill out three forms on Branch & Pyre’s website, including a registration of death. The entire process can take 15 minutes, Barringer said.

Access and Amaranth Credit Union in talks for potential merger

Gabrielle Piché 4 minute read Preview

Access and Amaranth Credit Union in talks for potential merger

Gabrielle Piché 4 minute read Saturday, Jul. 30, 2022

Surviving an increasingly digital environment is among the reasons for Manitoba’s latest proposed credit union merger.

Access Credit Union and Amaranth Credit Union announced Friday they’re discussing a merger.

If approved, Amaranth Credit Union would be the fourth institution to join Access since the start of 2021.

“These discussions began (in January) when Amaranth recognized that change was necessary for continued growth and maintaining value for members,” Marie Strong, Amaranth Credit Union’s president, said in a statement.

Saturday, Jul. 30, 2022

SUPPLIED

The COVID-19 pandemic has likely played a role in Access’s most recent — and pending — mergers, according to Larry Davey, Access Credit Union’s president and CEO.

Manitobans down in financial dumps: poll

Gabrielle Piché 4 minute read Preview

Manitobans down in financial dumps: poll

Gabrielle Piché 4 minute read Friday, Jul. 29, 2022

Manitobans are the most pessimistic Canadians when discussing personal finances, a new Angus Reid Institute poll found.

Forty per cent of Manitoba’s 122 respondents said they’re in bad or terrible shape financially.

Manitoba leads every province in feeling the financial stress. Nationally, 28 per cent of Canadians reported their personal finances are in bad or terrible shape, according to the July survey.

“People feel like their economic situation is deteriorating, whether it’s because of inflation or other factors,” said Jon Roe, a research associate with Angus Reid Institute.

Friday, Jul. 29, 2022

Angus Reid Institute president Shachi Kurl says Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre put a ‘bullseye’ on the Bank of Canada by saying that as prime minister, he’d fire the central bank’s governor. (Supplied)

Winnipee is a crowd-sourced website of public washrooms

Gabrielle Piché 4 minute read Preview

Winnipee is a crowd-sourced website of public washrooms

Gabrielle Piché 4 minute read Thursday, Jul. 28, 2022

Sometimes it takes a village to find a washroom.

“When you really have to go to the bathroom, you’re probably not thinking clearly about, ‘OK, where is a public bathroom — a fast food restaurant, a community centre?’” said Andrew McCrea.

“You just need to do your business.”

So, McCrea launched Winnipee, a website using crowdsourced information to display public washrooms and water fountains in Winnipeg.

Thursday, Jul. 28, 2022

ETHAN CAIRNS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Andrew McCrea launched Winnipee, a website using crowdsourced information to display public washrooms and water fountains in Winnipeg.

Manitoba’s liquor policy gets a ‘C’ by Restaurants Canada

Gabrielle Piché 4 minute read Preview

Manitoba’s liquor policy gets a ‘C’ by Restaurants Canada

Gabrielle Piché 4 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 27, 2022

Cocktails and wine at restaurants would be cheaper if the provincial government joined most of Canada and offered wholesale pricing to foodservice businesses, industry advocates say.

“The more we have to pay, the more people are going to have to be paying,” said Anthony Cantafio, La Carnita’s general manager.

Manitoba is one of two provinces to not offer reduced prices on alcohol to restaurants and other foodservice ventures, according to James Rilett, Restaurants Canada’s vice-president for central Canada.

It’s a main reason Manitoba received a ‘C’ in Restaurants Canada’s liquor policy report card. Just Saskatchewan received a lower grade than Manitoba, with a ‘C-‘.

Wednesday, Jul. 27, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Manitoba is one of two provinces to not offer reduced prices on alcohol to restaurants and other foodservice ventures, says James Rilett, Restaurants Canada’s vice-president for central Canada.

Business aims to replace Styrofoam packaging with plant-based takeout containers

Gabrielle Piché 5 minute read Preview

Business aims to replace Styrofoam packaging with plant-based takeout containers

Gabrielle Piché 5 minute read Tuesday, Jul. 26, 2022

A young Kim Vu shuffled home from the market in Vietnam, carrying rice in a banana leaf.

Banana leaf wrappers aren’t common in Winnipeg — an older Vu, a new Canadian immigrant, knew that.

Still, the Vietnamese entrepreneur said she was shocked upon arriving in 2020 and finding local restaurants distributing single-use containers.

“They’re still using the plastic and the Styrofoam box — why?” Vu said. “There’s so many plastic cups outside, so many plastic straws.”

Tuesday, Jul. 26, 2022

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Kim Vu, owner of KimEcopak and former co-owner of Yen Kitchen Kim.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Kim Vu, owner of KimEcopak and former co-owner of Yen Kitchen Kim, is selling environmentally friendly take-out containers, spoons and straws that she hopes to eventually start manufacturing in Winnipeg.

Getting the job done

Gabrielle Piché 4 minute read Preview

Getting the job done

Gabrielle Piché 4 minute read Tuesday, Jul. 26, 2022

Manitoba’s thumbprint will soon be on worksites across the country.

Workplace Education Manitoba is training practitioners from coast to coast to help Canadians upskill and meet current labour-market needs.

“The only thing that is constant in our world today is change, and so adaptability is so key for anyone to be able to navigate our workforce,” said Kara Finney, CEO of Workplace Education Manitoba.

Adaptability is one of nine teachings offered through Skills for Success. Federal Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough visited Winnipeg Monday to announce more than $3.8 million for Workplace Education Manitoba to facilitate Skills for Success practitioner training.

Tuesday, Jul. 26, 2022

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Minister of Employment Carla Qualtrough announced $3.8 million in funding for Workplace Education Manitoba to facilitate the new Skills for Success program.

Hotels desperate for workers

Gabrielle Piché 5 minute read Preview

Hotels desperate for workers

Gabrielle Piché 5 minute read Friday, Jul. 22, 2022

The ballroom was immaculate.

To the left, a banquet table stocked with cookies, coffee and tea. In the centre, chandeliers and standing tables draped in linens.

On the outskirts, hotel managers, seated and waiting. And the guests? Potential employees.

“Our postings were getting lost on the internet. They all look the same,” said Maria Cefali, marketing director for The Fort Garry Hotel. “What happens if we just open our doors?”

Friday, Jul. 22, 2022

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Maria Cefali, marketing director for The Fort Garry Hotel, Spa and Conference Centre, says the hotel is holding a job fair in response to a pandemic-induced labour shortage.

Pop-up workspace open for business on Broadway

Gabrielle Piché 3 minute read Preview

Pop-up workspace open for business on Broadway

Gabrielle Piché 3 minute read Thursday, Jul. 21, 2022

The tables are out, the Wi-Fi is free and the white boards are at the ready — Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s pop-up workstation has returned to Broadway.

RE: Workspace began last year in response to the pandemic, remote work and a lack of foot traffic downtown.

The outdoor working area has again taken part of Capital Grill & Bar’s parking lot at 275 Broadway. Orange umbrellas shade tables; pink and yellow paint covers gray car stalls.

“We really just wanted to make this space a place that people want to spend time in, that would kind of encourage collaboration and get people to reconnect,” said Pamela Hardman, the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s marketing director.

Thursday, Jul. 21, 2022

MIKE SUDOMA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
The Downtown Winnipeg Biz’s pop up patio workspace along Broadway avenue allows for businesses to take the work outdoors with rentable tables for meetings, and space to enjoy local cuisine from surrounding restaurants.

Beds made from scratch so Ukrainian refugee kids have a place to sleep

Gabrielle Piché 3 minute read Preview

Beds made from scratch so Ukrainian refugee kids have a place to sleep

Gabrielle Piché 3 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 20, 2022

Smooth, assemble, stain, repeat.

Blocks of wood passed from hand to hand, sander to drill, until a pile of headboards, footboards and bed rails had built up.

The mission: create 40 beds for Ukrainian children in Manitoba. Roughly 50 people gathered in Jim Gauthier Chevrolet’s parking lot to do so Wednesday, under the direction of non-profit Sleep in Heavenly Peace.

There’s far more demand than supply.

Wednesday, Jul. 20, 2022

ETHAN CAIRNS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Volunteers work on building beds at Jim Gauthier auto group on McPhillips Street.

Cereals Canada celebrates milestone

Gabrielle Piché 5 minute read Preview

Cereals Canada celebrates milestone

Gabrielle Piché 5 minute read Tuesday, Jul. 19, 2022

Eleven storeys above Portage and Main, Japanese food scientists might watch their new batch of noodles slide through a processing belt.

Steps away, workers from Britain’s largest bakery could be choosing the best flour for their crumpets and pan breads.

It’s not unusual for Italians to test their pasta’s consistency — al dente is ideal — in Cereals Canada’s headquarters at 303 Main St., or for Nigerians to crank the heat in a lab to check wheat durability.

Agriculture experts from across the globe have walked through the downtown building’s doors for 50 years. Over the next 50, Cereals Canada will be crucial to the world’s food security, according to CEO Dean Dias.

Tuesday, Jul. 19, 2022

ETHAN CAIRNS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Wheat kernels, flour and bread on display at Cereals Canada’s bakery during a tour of the facility for their 50th anniversary in Winnipeg on Tuesday.

Minister announces projects under clean technology program

Gabrielle Piché 3 minute read Preview

Minister announces projects under clean technology program

Gabrielle Piché 3 minute read Tuesday, Jul. 19, 2022

Ottawa is offering the carrots — and trying to avoid using the sticks — to push farmers and agri-businesses to greener practices.

“We hope to go far enough with incentives,” said Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, who announced 28 new projects under the federal Agricultural Clean Technology program Monday.

More than $2.5 million will support five Manitoba projects, Bibeau said. The five — True North Foods in Carman, JDD Farms in Gilbert Plains, Seymour Farms in Manitou, Enterprises Louis Balcaen Inc. in La Broquerie and Rolling Acres in Eden — join 14 others in Manitoba who’ve been funded through the Agricultural Clean Technology program.

“Funding and support is needed,” said Sheldon Stott, HyLife’s corporate sustainability director and a speaker at Monday’s news conference.

Tuesday, Jul. 19, 2022

Legal wrangling blamed for closure of Uncle Sam’s pot shops

Gabrielle Piché 4 minute read Preview

Legal wrangling blamed for closure of Uncle Sam’s pot shops

Gabrielle Piché 4 minute read Saturday, Jul. 16, 2022

A cannabis company has shuttered its three Winnipeg locations amidst a lawsuit it launched against its Albertan business partner.

A notice on Uncle Sam’s Cannabis’s flagship store tells would-be customers the business has ceased operations.

Owner Josh Giesbrecht points to the lawsuit, and his Alberta business partner, as the reasons for closure.

“I originally had thought there might be a way to keep things going,” Giesbrecht said. “It became apparent in the last few weeks and days that that wasn’t going to be possible.”

Saturday, Jul. 16, 2022

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
Josh Giesbrecht, owner of a weed store called Uncle Sam’s Cannabis at 171 Bannatyne Ave.

Competition rises as number of licensed cannabis shops in province grows

Gabrielle Piché 15 minute read Preview

Competition rises as number of licensed cannabis shops in province grows

Gabrielle Piché 15 minute read Friday, Jul. 15, 2022

Chris Britton wants to sell you cannabis.

He’s got a chandelier hanging from the ceiling. He’s behind a bar he made from refurbished pallets. There’s a velvet chair and an old wooden cabinet filled with bongs.

The owner of Black Tie Cannabis will greet you in a button-down shirt and tie.

Friday, Jul. 15, 2022

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Last month, Chris Britton, owner of Black Tie Cannabis, celebrated one year in the retail cannabis industry.

Close Company closes

Gabrielle Piché 5 minute read Preview

Close Company closes

Gabrielle Piché 5 minute read Thursday, Jul. 14, 2022

If you thought it was hard to get a table at the city’s smallest restaurant, just wait till it re-opens under new ownership next month.

Close Company occupied a 300-square-foot space on Stafford Street for six years. Beginning in August, it will re-open as Petit Socco, featuring Mediterranean cuisine.

“We’re really excited,” said Adam Donnelly, the new co-owner.

Donnelly ran the award-winning Segovia Tapas Bar and Restaurant in Osborne Village before closing in 2020. He baked for several restaurants during the pandemic and began talking with Close Company’s owners last January.

Thursday, Jul. 14, 2022

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Small eatery Close Company at 256 Stafford Street has permanently closed. It just received recognition for being one of Canada’s 100 best restaurants in June. see Gabrielle Piche story 220714 - Thursday, July 14, 2022.

Dairy, other food suppliers warn of higher prices as ingredient costs skyrocket

Gabrielle Piché 5 minute read Preview

Dairy, other food suppliers warn of higher prices as ingredient costs skyrocket

Gabrielle Piché 5 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 13, 2022

Joseph Chaeban has avoided raising the price of his ice creams and cheeses.

He can’t anymore.

The Canadian Dairy Commission approved a second farm gate milk price increase this year — about two cents per litre, or 2.5 per cent, on Sept. 1.

And on Wednesday, the Bank of Canada raised its benchmark interest rate a full percentage point to 2.5 per cent — the largest jump in more than two decades. Chaeban Ice Cream has loans tied to fluctuating interest rates, Chaeban said.

Wednesday, Jul. 13, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Athena Koodoo scoops ice cream into a cup at Chaeban Ice Cream, which is warning prices are about to jump as the cost of dairy continues to climb.

Housing costs soar, but relief on horizon

Gabrielle Piché 3 minute read Preview

Housing costs soar, but relief on horizon

Gabrielle Piché 3 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 13, 2022

The average Winnipeg home’s cost jumped 11.5 per cent this spring compared to last, according to a new Royal LePage report.

“We’ve got such a housing shortage in this country,” said Phil Soper, the real estate company’s president and CEO. “We’ve backed ourselves into (this) position.”

Winnipeg residents paid an average $392,600 for their houses in April through June, Royal LePage’s House Price Survey showed. The average was $352,000 during the same timeframe in 2021.

However, more houses are being listed, and demand has cooled for the summer, said Elliot Didomenicantonio, a Winnipeg-based broker for Royal LePage.

Wednesday, Jul. 13, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
While prices continued to rise in the spring, experts say demand is cooling during summer while supply is starting to return.

New leader set to take helm of FP Newspapers Inc.

Gabrielle Piché 4 minute read Preview

New leader set to take helm of FP Newspapers Inc.

Gabrielle Piché 4 minute read Tuesday, Jul. 12, 2022

A new leader will helm the Free Press and its sister papers starting this month.

Mike Power is set to begin as FP Newspapers Inc.’s president and CEO July 25. He replaces both Bob Silver, the company’s president and CEO, and Bob Cox, the publisher.

The two are stepping down from their roles; Cox announced his plan to do so last November.

“I have big shoes to fill,” said Power, who’s been a publisher since 1998.

Tuesday, Jul. 12, 2022

SUPPLIED
Mike Power is set to begin as FP Newspapers Inc.’s president and CEO July 25. He replaces both Bob Silver, the company’s president and CEO, and Bob Cox, the publisher.