Jen Zoratti

Jen Zoratti

Columnist

Jen Zoratti is a Winnipeg Free Press columnist who has an opinion on just about everything. (“The best Old Dutch flavour is dill pickle, and everyone else is wrong.” See?)

Jen uses her thoughtful writing and observational wit to comment on the local issues of the day as well as larger trends in technology, media, pop culture, health, human rights, and feminism.

Jen spent the first decade of her career as a music writer, first joining the Free Press in that role in 2013. In addition to telling readers how concerts were, she interviewed nearly every musician who graced this city’s stages, from St. Vincent to John Fogerty.

After writing a bi-weekly column for the op-ed pages, Jen became a regular columnist for the paper in 2015.

A lifelong Winnipegger, Jen graduated from the Creative Communications program at Red River College in 2006. Prior to coming to the Free Press, Jen was the music editor at Uptown Magazine and freelanced for CBC, the Huffington Post, as well as a veritable graveyard of now-defunct Canadian music rags and websites. She is a former Polaris Music Prize juror, and was selected to be on the Grand Jury in Toronto in 2015.  

In 2013, Jen co-founded the popular local blog, SCREAMING IN ALL CAPS: another feminist response to pop culture. Her personal essays have also appeared in various journals, including a local anthology on menstruation.

Jen co-hosts the paper’s local culture podcast, Bury the Lede, podcast with fellow Free Press writer Erin Lebar

Recent articles of Jen Zoratti

Freya the walrus euthanized because we wouldn’t leave her alone

Jen Zoratti 4 minute read Preview

Freya the walrus euthanized because we wouldn’t leave her alone

Jen Zoratti 4 minute read Yesterday at 7:00 PM CDT

Like many people, my heart was recently stolen by a charming 600-kilogram (or 1320-pound) walrus nicknamed Freya.

Over the past few weeks, Freya has been frequenting the Oslo Fjord, an inlet on Norway’s southeastern coast, where she could be seen hoisting her impressive body onto docked boats to lounge in the sun, sometimes sinking them in the process.

Naturally, images of this sunbathing goddess, retiring on pleasure watercraft partially submerged by her heft, went viral online, and Freya started drawing physical crowds to the Oslo Fjord.

This quickly became a problem. Freya, like all walruses, needed a lot of rest (up to 20 hours a day) and to be left alone — girl, same — but people didn’t leave her alone. People took pictures of and with her. Some people threw things at her to get her attention. Some people were even seen swimming with her.

Yesterday at 7:00 PM CDT

TOR ERIK SCHRøDER / NTB SCANPIX / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Over the past few weeks, Freya has been frequenting the Oslo Fjord.

Waning summer a season of mixed emotions

Jen Zoratti 4 minute read Preview

Waning summer a season of mixed emotions

Jen Zoratti 4 minute read Yesterday at 2:00 AM CDT

Ten years ago, American singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey released an unlikely summer anthem.

Summertime Sadness, off of her 2012 sophomore studio album, Born to Die, isn’t the kind of feel-good, sun-on-your-face jam you’ll hear blasting from an open car window. No, it’s a melancholy, sepia-soaked ballad about the endings of things.

Apparently, quite a few people have currently “got that summertime, summertime sadness,” to borrow the chorus, because this 10-year-old song is doing numbers. Last week, Chart Data, an aggregate that pulls data from a host of industry sources, tweeted that the song earned one million daily streams on Spotify for the first time ever, prompting many people to make variations of the same joke: “everyone OK out there?”

It’s a good song — for what it’s worth, the Los Angeles-based Vitamin String Quartet, which is known for its arrangements of pop songs, also does an absolutely devastating version, which underscores just how good this song is melodically — but perhaps its endurance is owed to the fact that summertime sadness is indeed A Thing, and it is indeed A Thing right now.

Yesterday at 2:00 AM CDT

Stephanie Keith / Getty Images
Lana Del Rey is releasing a spoken-word album ahead of the launch of her book, Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass.

Folklorama in the family

Jen Zoratti 5 minute read Preview

Folklorama in the family

Jen Zoratti 5 minute read Friday, Aug. 12, 2022

IVAN Tkach and his sister Isabel are in warm-up clothes, rehearsing to an empty hall with their ensemble, Zoloto Ukrainian Dance. In a little over two hours, they will be resplendent in their dance costumes — Ivan in sharovary, those voluminous pants; Isabel with a vinok, the ribboned flower crown, perched on her head — performing to a full house at the Spirit of Ukraine Pavilion at Folklorama. They will dance in three shows tonight, and are half-way through a weeklong, 23-show run.

Folklorama families can be found in each of the annual cultural festival’s pavilions, and the Tkach family is one of them. Ivan and Isabel’s parents, Doug and Deanna Tkach, are longtime volunteers with the Spirit of Ukraine Pavilion (Doug is one of this year’s adult ambassadors) and are veteran Ukrainian dance parents. Ivan, now 18, has been dancing since he was three years old.

“I do remember all the times where we get them in the car, and it’s, ‘Do I have to go to dance? Do I have to go to dance?’” Doug says. “And then we’d pick them up at the end of rehearsal, and it would be, ‘That was amazing.’ They were so full of enthusiasm and energy afterwards.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Isabel says with a wry smile.

Friday, Aug. 12, 2022

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Both Ivan and Isabel (in front of their parents) Tkach started dance at age three and love it still. Her parents say it’s helped Isabel, who has a form of cerebral palsy, with strength and balance.

What’s up

Eva Wasney and Alan Small and Jen Zoratti and Ben Sigurdson and Jill Wilson 6 minute read Preview

What’s up

Eva Wasney and Alan Small and Jen Zoratti and Ben Sigurdson and Jill Wilson 6 minute read Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022

Winnipeg Beer FestivalSaturday, Aug. 13, 5 p.m.-midnightFort Gibraltar, 866 Rue St. JosephTickets from $17.35, wpgbeerfestival.com

With weekend temperatures set to soar, there’s no better spot to grab a cold one in Winnipeg this Saturday than within the wooden walls of Fort Gibraltar.

The fifth annual Winnipeg Beer Festival returns to St. Boniface on Aug. 13, with 23 producers of beer (of course), wine, cider, mead, spirits and more set to pour their wares to help thirsty locals beat the heat.

Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022

FREE PRESS FILES
The fifth annual Winnipeg Beer Festival returns to St. Boniface on Aug. 13.

African-Canadian artist Esmaa Mohamoud uses sport to look at how Black bodies are made visible and invisible

Jen Zoratti 4 minute read Preview

African-Canadian artist Esmaa Mohamoud uses sport to look at how Black bodies are made visible and invisible

Jen Zoratti 4 minute read Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022

Of all the striking, large-scale works that compose Esmaa Mohamoud’s landmark solo touring exhibition To Play in the Face of Certain Defeat, on view at the Winnipeg Art Gallery until Oct. 16, Glorious Bones is perhaps the most compelling.

Forty-six repurposed football helmets, covered in vivid African wax prints, are suspended by steel stands — making them look, unsettlingly, like heads on spikes. No matter where you stand in relation to the installation, the helmets are facing you. No one is wearing the helmets. There are only voids behind the face masks. But still: a presence is felt.

This tension between the hyper visible and the invisible is the throughline that links the 13 works that make up To Play in the Face of Certain Defeat. The London, Ont.-born, Toronto-based African-Canadian multidisciplinary artist explores, per the artist statement, “the ways in which Black bodies at once appear — and yet are rendered metaphorically invisible — within the spaces they navigate” through the lens of professional sport, a site where Black bodies are routinely elevated and then exploited for profit and entertainment. Her works are about all the ways in which Black bodies are erased from the industries built upon them. (It's true in music, too.)

To that end, the exhibition fittingly opens with an excerpt from Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel Invisible Man: “I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me… When they approach me, they see only my surroundings, themselves or figments of their imagination, indeed everything and anything except me.”

Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022

Submitted

Esmaa Mohamoud’s To Play in the Face of Certain Defeat, including the work From the Ground We Fall, is at the WAG through Oct. 16

What’s up

Eva Wasney and Alan Small and Jen Zoratti and Ben Sigurdson and Jill Wilson 3 minute read Preview

What’s up

Eva Wasney and Alan Small and Jen Zoratti and Ben Sigurdson and Jill Wilson 3 minute read Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022

Movie night at the Lyric TheatreFriday, Aug. 5, 6:30 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.Lyric Theatre, Assiniboine ParkFree admission

Assiniboine Park’s weekly summer movie night returns to the Lyric Theatre this Friday with a lineup heavy on big-budget, mainly family-friendly flicks.

The free double bill kicks off at 6:30 p.m. with a screening of Sing 2, the 2021 animated musical comedy featuring the voices of Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson and many more. This time around, the gang must convince Clay Calloway, an aging rock star lion (voiced by Bono), to leave his reclusive life and come out of retirement. Clay and the gang must face their fears in a production that could make or break their careers.

Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022

Marvel Studios Kumail Nanjiani (from left), Lia McHugh, Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie and Don Lee in a scene from Eternals.

Pleasure and pain all part of older-home ownership

Jen Zoratti 5 minute read Preview

Pleasure and pain all part of older-home ownership

Jen Zoratti 5 minute read Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022

When you buy a piece of Winnipeg history — or, at least, when you buy one of the most conspicuous houses on one of the city’s showiest streets — your personal renovation decisions become very public.

So is the case for Gilchrist House, which, until last week, has stood at 1015 Wellington Cres. for 90 years. Now, it’s coming down.

I walk by this house — former home of grain merchant James M. Gilchrist, T. Eaton & Co. director Gilbert and Marjorie Eaton, disgraced fashion mogul Peter Nygard and lawyer and businessman David Asper — every day. On Tuesday morning, I stood and watched for a bit as an excavator bit huge chunks out of its Tudor-style frame, revealing patches of blue sky. I thought about how much labour — how much history — was being reduced to a dusty pile of rubble.

I caught the eye of an approaching woman, who slowed and yanked out an earbud. “I think they should have given us all a tour before they tore it down, considering I’ve been walking by since I was a year old,” she said. “That’s 46 years.”

Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022

JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS files

The sprawling home at 1015 Wellington Cres., which has stood for 90 years and been home to the likes of David Asper and grain merchant James M. Gilchrist, is being torn down.

It turns out we actually do need these stinkin’ badges

Jen Zoratti 4 minute read Preview

It turns out we actually do need these stinkin’ badges

Jen Zoratti 4 minute read Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022

Like many Canadian girls, I was, for many years, a Girl Guide.

Every Monday night in the early 1990s, I would don my little brown dress and my jaunty little orange kerchief — I always felt we looked more like miniature flight attendants representing some hideously branded airline than scouts — and go to Brownies, where we sat around a foam toadstool and listened to women (including my mom) called Brown Owl and Tawny Owl in a church basement.

Having a low-key coven composed of girls organized into groups of elves, sprites and pixies gabbing around a toadstool strikes me as kind of subversive, now, considering the venue.

As the over-achieving, pleasure-to-have-in-class type, I lived for collecting badges (well, and the cookies), trying to crowd my sash with so many little round patches that not one centimetre of brown fabric remained. Achievements you can earn and then wear on your body? Come on.

Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022

Jen's badges. (Garmin)

Free Press Folklorama Bingo card invites Winnipeggers to take in two-week cultural festival one square at a time

Eva Wasney and Jen Zoratti 13 minute read Preview

Free Press Folklorama Bingo card invites Winnipeggers to take in two-week cultural festival one square at a time

Eva Wasney and Jen Zoratti 13 minute read Friday, Jul. 29, 2022

There are exactly 24 pavilions taking part in this year’s Folklorama, which kicks off Sunday and runs until Aug. 13.

There are also exactly 24 squares on a bingo card, minus the free space.

So, we thought we’d take advantage of this serendipity to present our first-ever Folklorama Bingo, a fun challenge that encourages you to get out there and experience some culture.

Can you hit enough pavilions to get a line? How about the full card? (A tip to maximize your experience: the 9:45 p.m. shows on Monday and Tuesday nights are $1 admission, thanks to funding from the Manitoba Government.)

Friday, Jul. 29, 2022

Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press

Portuguese dancers perform during the kick-off for Folklorama at Assiniboine Park Saturday evening. Folklorama is back after a two year pandemic hiatus.

What’s up

Eva Wasney and Alan Small and Jen Zoratti and Ben Sigurdson and Jill Wilson 3 minute read Preview

What’s up

Eva Wasney and Alan Small and Jen Zoratti and Ben Sigurdson and Jill Wilson 3 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 27, 2022

Winnipeg Comedy ShowcaseJuly 31, 8 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.)Park TheatreTickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door

When the Winnipeg Comedy Showcase made its debut in January 2014, comedian and showcase host/producer Jared Story figured it might be a one-off.

He was (happily) proven (very) wrong: Sunday night’s show at the Park Theatre will be the 30th edition of the Winnipeg Comedy Showcase — a nice, round number that illustrates just how important the showcase has been for emerging and established local comics alike. When comedians are cutting their teeth, it’s often while being ignored at an open-mic night at a bar; the Winnipeg Comedy Showcase, meanwhile, offers comics the chance to audience-test bits and hone their tight fives in a theatre.

Featured funny people on Sunday night’s bill include Andy Noble, Emmanuel Lomuro, Karlee Liljegren, Abby Falvo, Matt Kay and Carson Košik. Advance tickets are available via Ticketweb, Eventbrite or from the comics on the bill.

Wednesday, Jul. 27, 2022

For 50 years, the RWB’s Ballet in the Park has been a summer tradition

Jen Zoratti 4 minute read Preview

For 50 years, the RWB’s Ballet in the Park has been a summer tradition

Jen Zoratti 4 minute read Tuesday, Jul. 26, 2022

Every summer since 1972, Manitobans have gathered in Assiniboine Park for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s en plein air exhibition, Ballet in the Park.

Well, OK, not every summer — the pandemic shaved a few off the official tally. But the 50th anniversary of a much-loved summertime tradition is something well worth celebrating, especially if that tradition is rooted in making art accessible.

One of the hallmarks of Ballet in the Park is that it is free, and this year’s edition, which runs at 7:30 p.m. nightly at the Lyric Theatre Wednesday through Friday — is no exception.

RWB artistic director and CEO André Lewis has been involved with nearly every iteration of Ballet in the Park. When Lewis came to Winnipeg in 1975 to train in the RWB School’s Professional Division, Ballet in the Park — or Dancing in the Park, as it was then known — was still in its early days.

Tuesday, Jul. 26, 2022

Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press Files

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s annual free outdoor performances were initially called Dancing in the Park.

Shawn Mendes and cracking open the lie about quitting

Jen Zoratti 5 minute read Preview

Shawn Mendes and cracking open the lie about quitting

Jen Zoratti 5 minute read Tuesday, Jul. 12, 2022

It’s an old showbiz aphorism, “the show must go on,” the idea that anything less is to let down the very people who put you on that stage.

Which is what made Canadian pop singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes’ decision to postpone the next three weeks of shows on his current world tour — which has him on the road well into the fall before beginning a European leg in 2023 — to take care of himself and his mental health strikingly brave, especially since the idea of letting people down is a major source of anxiety for him.

How do I know? He told me and thousands of other people at his Winnipeg show at Canada Life Centre last Thursday night, just 24 hours before an Instagram story announced he’d be taking some time. During a confessional moment at the piano, he mentioned that his fear of letting people down was “paralyzing” when he began writing his new album, 2020’s Wonder.

I reviewed the concert for the Free Press, and I commented that those fears seemed unfounded; Wonder is a high-water mark for a young artist who is starting to come into his own, and I’ve never seen an artist be so enthusiastically received at the arena formerly known as Bell MTS Place.

Tuesday, Jul. 12, 2022

DANIEL CRUMP / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Shawn Mendez, like tennis star Naomi Osaka, sets a strong example of making tough decisions for longer-term benefits to his own mental health and career.

Shawn Mendes spreads his wings in latest world tour

Jen Zoratti 5 minute read Preview

Shawn Mendes spreads his wings in latest world tour

Jen Zoratti 5 minute read Thursday, Jul. 7, 2022

Much has changed in the three pandemic-addled years since Canadian pop sensation Shawn Mendes was last through Winnipeg. Even the arena has a new name.

Mendes, too, continues to go through a metamorphosis. At 23, Mendes has already had a career on steroids, making the leap from Internet-famous teen to serious artist four albums deep in under a decade. While he’s no doubt a master bop architect, he’s also pushing himself in interesting new directions.

His latest album, 2020’s Wonder — which brought him to Canada Life Centre on Thursday night — finds Mendes experimenting with a wider pop palette. It’s a lush, warm, densely textured album.

Thursday, Jul. 7, 2022

Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press
Shawn Mendes performs at Canada Life Centre in support of his latest album, Wonder, Thursday evening.

What’s up at Folk Fest

Ben Sigurdson, Eva Wasney, Rob Williams, Jen Zoratti 6 minute read Preview

What’s up at Folk Fest

Ben Sigurdson, Eva Wasney, Rob Williams, Jen Zoratti 6 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 6, 2022

The daytime stages at the Winnipeg Folk Festival are ripe for musical discovery. This week’s What’s Up is dedicated to the must-sees before the headliners.

Kurt Vile and the SadiesGreen Ash, Friday at 1 p.m.

Music fans and artists were shocked and saddened earlier this year when the Sadies’ guitarist-vocalist Dallas Good died on Feb. 17 from a recently discovered coronary illness at the age of 48.

Wednesday, Jul. 6, 2022

SUPPLIED
Kurt Vile will share the stage Friday with frequent collaborators, the Sadies.

What’s up

Eva Wasney and Alan Small and Jen Zoratti and Ben Sigurdson and Jill Wilson 4 minute read Preview

What’s up

Eva Wasney and Alan Small and Jen Zoratti and Ben Sigurdson and Jill Wilson 4 minute read Thursday, Jun. 30, 2022

Workman, fireworks to light up the DownsJuly 1, 1-11 p.m.Assiniboia Downs Gaming & Event Centre, 1975 Portage Ave.$10 admission (ages five and under free), $5 parking

If you’re jonesing for your fireworks fix this Canada Day, go west. Assiniboia Downs Gaming and Event Centre is hosting a Canada Day festival that starts at 1 p.m. and will include those thrilling aerial pops, bangs and flashes via CanFire Pyrotechnics at 11 p.m.

Prior to the fireworks, there will be plenty to see and do for all ages. The day’s events include a range of activities for kids, over 100 local artisans and makers offering up their wares, a beer garden and all manner of food trucks.

Live music kicks off right at 1 p.m. with a lineup headlined by Hawksley Workman and including Space Case, Cassidy Mann, Madeleine Roger, Justin Lacroix Band, the Incredibly Hip and Sassy Mellows.

Thursday, Jun. 30, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / FREE PRESS FILES
Hawksley Workman

Winnipeg performer part of dynamic duo on Amazing Race Canada

Jen Zoratti 5 minute read Preview

Winnipeg performer part of dynamic duo on Amazing Race Canada

Jen Zoratti 5 minute read Monday, Jun. 27, 2022

In June 2013, Catherine Wreford Ledlow received life-altering news. She had terminal brain cancer, and doctors told her she had two to six years to live.

But the Winnipeg dancer, actor and singer has beaten those odds — she’s nine years out from her diagnosis and counting — and has made a point to live life to the fullest. And now, in what could be considered the ultimate act of carpe diem, she’ll be competing in the forthcoming season of The Amazing Race Canada alongside her best friend of 25 years, fellow actor and Broadway performer Craig Ramsay.

Both are thrilled they no longer have to keep their involvement in the reality show a secret, and although they still have to keep mum about specifics of the competition itself — no spoilers here — they’re still talking to each other, which is a good sign.

Monday, Jun. 27, 2022

DANIEL CRUMP / BELL MEDIA
Catherine Wreford Ledlow, left, and Craig Ramsay

Let abortion decision radicalize you

Jen Zoratti 5 minute read Preview

Let abortion decision radicalize you

Jen Zoratti 5 minute read Friday, Jun. 24, 2022

Well, it’s happened.

The thing so many people told us we were hysterical feminists for worrying about. The thing we were told would never happen.

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, killing the constitutional right to abortion in America. The impact of this decision will be immediately felt, especially in the 13 states with “trigger laws” that ban abortion in the event Roe is overturned.

Several states already have near-total bans on abortion, making them illegal after six weeks, which is before many women even know they are pregnant. Some states are now empowered to blow the dust off their moldering abortion laws, such as Wisconsin, which has an 1849 abortion ban on the books.

Friday, Jun. 24, 2022

Abortion-rights protesters gather Friday after the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. (Gemunu Amarasinghe / The Associated Press)

#BimboTok, #tradwife and the cure of feminist community

Jen Zoratti 4 minute read Preview

#BimboTok, #tradwife and the cure of feminist community

Jen Zoratti 4 minute read Friday, Jun. 24, 2022

What’s going on with feminism these days?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reading all manner of think pieces about a corner of the internet called #BimboTok, wherein (mostly Gen-Z) TikTok content creators are embracing being a bimbo — or, more accurately, a specific, often ironic, performance of hyperfeminine, tee-hee, “math is hard” girlishness, but with a left-leaning, sex-positive bent. As a New York Times piece on the trend put it, “bimboism offers an opposing and, to some, refreshing premise: value me, look at me, not because I’m smart and diligent, but for the fact that I’m not. It’s anti-capitalist, even anti-work.”

The think pieces about #BimboTok remind me a bit of the discourse around the Spice Girls in the late ’90s. Revisionist anniversary content would have you believe they’ve always been regarded as bold feminist icons but, at the time, they were maligned for being empty-headed marketing dolls who were “setting women back decades” with their bubblegum pop. (I’ve lost track of the total number of decades we’ve been set back by various pop culture movements, just as I’ve lost track of the number of times I, personally, have set John Dafoe spinning in his grave.)

Still, as I’ve written before, that doesn’t change the fact that the first time I ever heard the word “feminist,” it was out of the mouth of a Spice Girl.

Friday, Jun. 24, 2022

What’s going on with feminism these days?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reading all manner of think pieces about a corner of the internet called #BimboTok, wherein (mostly Gen-Z) TikTok content creators are embracing being a bimbo — or, more accurately, a specific, often ironic, performance of hyperfeminine, tee-hee, “math is hard” girlishness, but with a left-leaning, sex-positive bent. As a New York Times piece on the trend put it, “bimboism offers an opposing and, to some, refreshing premise: value me, look at me, not because I’m smart and diligent, but for the fact that I’m not. It’s anti-capitalist, even anti-work.”

The think pieces about #BimboTok remind me a bit of the discourse around the Spice Girls in the late ’90s. Revisionist anniversary content would have you believe they’ve always been regarded as bold feminist icons but, at the time, they were maligned for being empty-headed marketing dolls who were “setting women back decades” with their bubblegum pop. (I’ve lost track of the total number of decades we’ve been set back by various pop culture movements, just as I’ve lost track of the number of times I, personally, have set John Dafoe spinning in his grave.)

Still, as I’ve written before, that doesn’t change the fact that the first time I ever heard the word “feminist,” it was out of the mouth of a Spice Girl.

Book chronicles Winnipeg couple’s seven-year infertility journey

Jen Zoratti 6 minute read Preview

Book chronicles Winnipeg couple’s seven-year infertility journey

Jen Zoratti 6 minute read Tuesday, Jun. 21, 2022

Spoiler alert: Morwenna Trevenen’s infertility story has a happy ending. Her book about her fertility journey, however, is a bit more open ended.

Chasing Baby: An Infertility Adventure, out last month via Great Plains Publications, is a chronicle of the seven-year infertility journey Trevenen and her husband Kyle Collins went through to become parents. The failed intrauterine inseminations and invasive procedures, the physically and emotionally draining hormone treatments, an adoption that was reversed less than two weeks later — it’s a lot to go through.

A round of in vitro fertilization resulted in a pregnancy in 2020 and now, the Winnipeg couple are parents to a cherub-cheeked 14-month-old son. But she didn’t want to end Chasing Baby that way. When she was writing her book proposal, the only infertility books she could find followed a similar narrative structure: ‘yeah, it was hard, but now I have a baby.’

“And it kind of made me mad,” says Trevenen, 39, over iced coffees on a June afternoon. “Maybe it was in the depth of all the hormones and the things that they did to my mental state. But I was just like, I don’t like that messaging because I’m torturing myself and hurting myself physically, mentally, emotionally, financially. And the thought of, it’s only really worth it if you have a baby at the end? I feel like that could put me in a dangerous place at the end if it doesn’t work out for us.

Tuesday, Jun. 21, 2022

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Morwenna Trevenen, author of Chasing Baby: An Infertility Adventure.

Out to lunch: the new best-life rallying cry for the office?

Jen Zoratti 4 minute read Preview

Out to lunch: the new best-life rallying cry for the office?

Jen Zoratti 4 minute read Saturday, Jun. 18, 2022

In a moment of serendipity this week, I came across a piece from NPR about the French lunch-break law — just as I was absolutely hoovering a salad out of a glass container from home at my desk in between meetings with one hand, and scrolling through Twitter with the other. I am a paragon of health and balance.

The French labour code forbids people from eating at their desks. There’s not, like, a lunch cop (a flic du déjeuner, if you will) out there policing this, but rather, it’s a deeply entrenched cultural norm — which can often be a more powerful form of influence than a law. Not only do you not eat at your desk in France, you do not talk about work at lunch.

Lunchtime is a mandated break, built right into the day. I’ve never been more jealous of anything.

The French lunch-break law has been on the books since the 1890s. Concerned about disease transmission and lack of ventilation — sound familiar? — the solution was to kick everyone outside for 90 minutes (!) to, quite literally, clear the air.

Saturday, Jun. 18, 2022

RUTH BONNEVILLE / FREE PRESS FILES
The French lunch-break law has been on the books since the 1890s. Concerned about disease transmission and lack of ventilation the solution was to kick everyone outside for 90 minutes to, quite literally, clear the air.

What’s Up

Eva Wasney and Alan Small and Jen Zoratti and Ben Sigurdson and Jill Wilson 6 minute read Preview

What’s Up

Eva Wasney and Alan Small and Jen Zoratti and Ben Sigurdson and Jill Wilson 6 minute read Thursday, Jun. 16, 2022

Comedian Nate Bargatze brings Raincheck Tour to WinnipegJune 16, 7 p.m.

Burton Cummings Theatre

Tickets $63-$108 at Ticketmaster

You could say that comedian Nate Bargatze was born into the funny business.

Thursday, Jun. 16, 2022

SASHA SEFTER / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS files

New civic slogan can’t capture city’s complications

Jen Zoratti 4 minute read Preview

New civic slogan can’t capture city’s complications

Jen Zoratti 4 minute read Thursday, Jun. 9, 2022

Made from what’s real.

It sounds like a phrase you might find printed on the side of a box of organic granola. But no, “made from what’s real” is Winnipeg’s new civic slogan and, well, I have notes.

The new slogan — which is also accompanied by a new logo — was unveiled by Economic Development Winnipeg and Travel Manitoba this week, and is the result of a two-year research and consultation process.

I suppose the one good thing about “made from what’s real” is that it’s technically true. Winnipeg is indeed made from what’s real, in the way that all cities are made from what’s real. Heart of the Continent, the slogan it’s replacing, is also technically true, but at least that one gives some geographical context in addition to being blandly poetic.

Thursday, Jun. 9, 2022

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Dayna Spiring, president and CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg, at the launch of the city's new slogan on Wednesday.

Philanthropist gives RWB program $3M endowment

Jen Zoratti 4 minute read Preview

Philanthropist gives RWB program $3M endowment

Jen Zoratti 4 minute read Thursday, Jun. 9, 2022

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet School’s Aspirant Program is getting a $3-million gift — and a new name.

The Anna McCowan-Johnson Aspirant Program is named for the longtime dance educator, the founder and artistic director of Interplay School of Dance in Toronto. McCowan-Johnson died in 2020 and her husband, Toronto philanthropist Don Johnson, made the $3-million contribution in memory of his late wife.

McCowan-Johnson had a deep connection with the RWB: she was taught and mentored by one of the company’s co-founders, Gweneth Lloyd, and often championed the RWB School to young dancers.

“I am absolutely thrilled about this — I think it’s such an incredible gift,” says Vanessa Léonard, director of the Aspirant Program. “And I’m really thrilled that the Aspirant Program is being recognized, as that’s an important part of the dancers’ training here at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. It really is the bridge between their academic studies and going into the professional world.”

Thursday, Jun. 9, 2022

JP Mediaworks photo
The Aspirants rehearse for this week’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet On the Edge performances.

Kidsfest a belated chance for Fred Penner to celebrate The Cat Came Back

Jen Zoratti 4 minute read Preview

Kidsfest a belated chance for Fred Penner to celebrate The Cat Came Back

Jen Zoratti 4 minute read Wednesday, Jun. 8, 2022

Fred Penner has been celebrating the 40th anniversary of The Cat Came Back — the debut album whose title track launched his career as a beloved children’s musician — for two years now.

You see, the milestone was to be officially commemorated with a tour in 2020, but we all know how that year went down.

“We managed to squeeze Calgary under the line, and then we got up to Edmonton at the Winspear Centre, and we had 1,000 people ready to go and about two hours before the performance, the Alberta health authority pulled the plug,” says Penner, 75, over the phone from British Columbia, where he’s playing a few catch-up Cat Came Back dates.

Wednesday, Jun. 8, 2022

Fred Penner performs Childrens Garden with the help of the Kids Fest Childrens Choir back in 2018. (Mike Sudoma / Winnipeg Free Press files)