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Shelley Cook

Shelley Cook

Columnist, Manager of Reader Bridge project

Shelley is a born and raised Winnipegger. She is a proud member of the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation.

In 2011 Shelley graduated (for the first time in her life!) from Red River College’s Creative Communications program. It was a milestone moment for the two-time high school dropout who took a chance on post-secondary education as a mature student at the age of 28.

This was an opportunity that changed her life, and one for which she is so grateful.

While stumbling around the University of Winnipeg for two years, dabbling in a number of different courses, Shelley started volunteering at Winnipeg Harvest (now known as Manitoba Harvest). There she met many wonderful people who made an impact on her life, including Donald Benham, a former journalist, city councillor and journalism instructor, who encouraged her to apply for the Creative Communications program, thus helping her find a career path that seemed to fit.

Shelley was the first recipient of the John W. Dafoe Free Press scholarship for Aboriginal students in 2009. This scholarship led to her first newsroom experience. She enjoyed a work placement at the Winnipeg Sun in 2010 to 2011 and spent the summer after graduating CreComm as a reporter for the Portage Daily Graphic in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.

Shelley’s other notable work includes covering the 2014 JUNO Awards, concert reviews and a weekly Mix of Six column for Metro Winnipeg.

From 2012 to 2021, Shelley worked in marketing and communications at Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries as a social media coordinator.

Shelley is a mom and stepmom of three as well as a companion to two rescue dogs. She and her partner Chris co-parent and raise their kids with Donna, her stepkids’ mom.

Shelley has always been a good storyteller, a trait she likely inherited from her dad, one of the most engaging and interesting storytellers of all time. She tries hard, though she makes a lot of mistakes. Thankfully, making mistakes is a good way to learn and to grow and to try to be better. It also usually always leads to something interesting to write about.

Shelley still gets excited to see her work published in the Winnipeg Free Press. Having a column has been a dream come true.

Recent articles of Shelley Cook

Women Talking evokes rage, humour and hope with its powerful script, brilliant acting

Shelley Cook, AV Kitching, Eva Wasney and Jen Zoratti 10 minute read Preview

Women Talking evokes rage, humour and hope with its powerful script, brilliant acting

Shelley Cook, AV Kitching, Eva Wasney and Jen Zoratti 10 minute read Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023

Difficult, harrowing, poignant, enraging, sometimes funny, maybe even hopeful: Women Talking, Sarah Polley’s Oscar-nominated adaptation of Miriam Toews’ 2018 novel of the same name, stirs a variety of emotions.

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Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023

Michael Gibson / Orion

The novel and the film are based on the true-life events of a Mennonite colony in Bolivia where the men were drugging and assaulting the women at night and then gaslighting them, saying it was ghosts, Satan, or wild female imagination.

Friendship keeps all afloat navigating life’s waves

Shelley Cook 3 minute read Preview

Friendship keeps all afloat navigating life’s waves

Shelley Cook 3 minute read Monday, Jan. 23, 2023

There is something to be said about those types of friendships when you click with someone and form that special kind of relationship that doesn’t wilt and wither away with time or space.

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Monday, Jan. 23, 2023

There is something to be said about those types of friendships when you click with someone and form that special kind of relationship that doesn’t wilt and wither away with time or space.

Volunteer provides food, blankets, comfort to homeless

Shelley Cook 5 minute read Preview

Volunteer provides food, blankets, comfort to homeless

Shelley Cook 5 minute read Monday, Jan. 16, 2023

The air is cold and the sound of snow crunching underfoot is loud while walking down a path that leads to an open area along the Red River just east of Higgins Avenue.

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Monday, Jan. 16, 2023

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Gina Smoke visits a treed area along the Red River near the Louise Bridge where she handed out food and clothing to people living in an encampment in the area.

‘Pretendians’ rob Indigenous people of jobs, opportunities

Shelley Cook 3 minute read Preview

‘Pretendians’ rob Indigenous people of jobs, opportunities

Shelley Cook 3 minute read Monday, Jan. 16, 2023

I have been watching as people are being exposed or accused of falsely claiming Indigenous ancestry and/or identity.

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Monday, Jan. 16, 2023

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond. (Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press Files)

Find something to be grateful for every day

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Preview

Find something to be grateful for every day

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Monday, Jan. 9, 2023

I started using an app to track the best parts of my day.

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Monday, Jan. 9, 2023

I started using an app to track the best parts of my day.

Making a present of the past

Shelley Cook 9 minute read Preview

Making a present of the past

Shelley Cook 9 minute read Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023

At 78 years old, Ken Paupanekis could easily be retired, but he continues to teach Cree because there’s nobody else to do it.

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Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Language keeper Ken Paupanekis, 78, teaches Cree on a part-time basis at the University of Manitoba.

Take time to celebrate all things great and small

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Preview

Take time to celebrate all things great and small

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Monday, Jan. 2, 2023

Here we are, at the start of a new year, and although I don’t usually make resolutions, I tend to get nostalgic when the ol’ calendar changes. It always feels like a clean slate and just another day all wrapped into one.

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Monday, Jan. 2, 2023

Here we are, at the start of a new year, and although I don’t usually make resolutions, I tend to get nostalgic when the ol’ calendar changes. It always feels like a clean slate and just another day all wrapped into one.

What time is it? Borrowed o’clock, I’m afraid

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Preview

What time is it? Borrowed o’clock, I’m afraid

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022

There is this scene in the 2005 finale of the HBO show Six Feet Under that I think about often (spoiler: I am going to say something about it — if you haven’t watched the series and it’s on the to-watch list, maybe don’t read on).

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Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022

There is this scene in the 2005 finale of the HBO show Six Feet Under that I think about often (spoiler: I am going to say something about it — if you haven’t watched the series and it’s on the to-watch list, maybe don’t read on).

Gift of permission to say no this season

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Preview

Gift of permission to say no this season

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Monday, Dec. 19, 2022

We are so close to Christmas, and I am not ready. At least, I don’t feel like I’m ready.

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Monday, Dec. 19, 2022

We are so close to Christmas, and I am not ready. At least, I don’t feel like I’m ready.

(Hand)making a difference

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Preview

(Hand)making a difference

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022

The first Pitâw Mīno Muskîkî Indigenous Handmade Market happens today and Saturday at Sgt. Tommy Prince Place, 90 Sinclair St., and it promises to be the boujeest, rezziest market of the year.

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Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022

Supplied

Anishinaabe Girl Designs by Shauna Fontaine

A new name for ongoing good work

Shelley Cook 5 minute read Preview

A new name for ongoing good work

Shelley Cook 5 minute read Monday, Dec. 12, 2022

It is an advocacy group out of Winnipeg, filling gaps and helping residents live better.

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Monday, Dec. 12, 2022

SUBMITTED

Some members of 204 Volunteers Caring Manitobans in Action, formerly known as 204 Neighbourhood Watch.

Why do Indigenous women have to beg the rest of Canada for dignity and justice?

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Preview

Why do Indigenous women have to beg the rest of Canada for dignity and justice?

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Friday, Dec. 9, 2022

I opened Twitter the other day and saw a video clip of Cambria Harris speaking.

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Friday, Dec. 9, 2022

Cambria Harris, daughter of Morgan Harris, speaks during a news conference in the foyer of the House of Commons on, on Dec. 6. (Justin Tang / The Canadian Press files)

Program’s stunning success putting, keeping Indigenous families back together

Shelley Cook 5 minute read Preview

Program’s stunning success putting, keeping Indigenous families back together

Shelley Cook 5 minute read Monday, Dec. 5, 2022

Kylie Nepinak, 31, cradles her 16-month-old son Kayden in a quiet room at the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre Monday morning. Her partner, Randi Thomas, sits beside her, attentive to the fussing toddler. A couple of their other children play happily with toys strewn about the room.

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Monday, Dec. 5, 2022

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Kylie Nepinak and her partner, Randi Thomas, have worked through the reunification program and have their family back together again. Kiarra Thomas (front), opens gift for the family for completing the program. Family group photo taken at the centre after press conference. Mom - Kylie Nepinak with her partner, Randi Thomas, and four of their nine kids, Kaycen Thomas (2yrs, in red), Kingsley Thomas (3yrs), Kayden Thomas (16 months) and Kiarra Thomas (6yrs). Press conference on successful Indigenous-led family reunification program, FAMILY GROUP CONFERENCING, at the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, Monday. See story. Dec 5th, 2022

More memories, less stuff this holiday season

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Preview

More memories, less stuff this holiday season

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Monday, Dec. 5, 2022

Here we are, it’s December already. How’d we get here so fast and how did it get so busy?

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Monday, Dec. 5, 2022

Here we are, it’s December already. How’d we get here so fast and how did it get so busy?

Christmas hamper ‘team effort’ labour of love

Shelley Cook 5 minute read Preview

Christmas hamper ‘team effort’ labour of love

Shelley Cook 5 minute read Monday, Nov. 28, 2022

For the third year in a row, Ally Beauchesne is whipping up holiday magic for some Winnipeg families who could use a little bit of help.

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Monday, Nov. 28, 2022

Ally’s basement becomes a hamper making station, filled with donations of food and toys for the holiday hampers she’s made for several families over the past three years.

Making a pitch, building connections

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Preview

Making a pitch, building connections

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Monday, Nov. 21, 2022

Building a business or creative space is all about networking.

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Monday, Nov. 21, 2022

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

The Neechie Nights name and concept was developed by Amy Jackson of Native Love Notes after the success of a social celebrating her company’s first year in business.

An easy, but meaningful, change that helps us all move forward

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Preview

An easy, but meaningful, change that helps us all move forward

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Monday, Nov. 21, 2022

Last week I read that the Girl Guides of Canada will be changing the name of Brownies — the branch for seven and eight year olds — because they’ve learned from racialized groups and former members that the name is harmful.

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Monday, Nov. 21, 2022

Last week I read that the Girl Guides of Canada will be changing the name of Brownies — the branch for seven and eight year olds — because they’ve learned from racialized groups and former members that the name is harmful.

Sharing is caring, but when is it too much on social media?

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Preview

Sharing is caring, but when is it too much on social media?

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Monday, Nov. 14, 2022

When I had my child, I had an overwhelming desire to share her with the world.

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Monday, Nov. 14, 2022

When I had my child, I had an overwhelming desire to share her with the world.

‘Heart work’ that heals families

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Preview

‘Heart work’ that heals families

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Monday, Nov. 7, 2022

The six-storey apartment on Gaylene Street, just off Pembina Highway, is not spectacular from the outside, but it represents a new beginning for many First Nations families.

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Monday, Nov. 7, 2022

The trick is never getting too old for the annual treat

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Preview

The trick is never getting too old for the annual treat

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Monday, Oct. 31, 2022

I love Halloween. It’s my second favourite holiday, after Christmas.

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Monday, Oct. 31, 2022

SUBMITTED PHOTO

Shelley (centre, the princess with the winter jacket under her costume) with her two sisters Heather (Strawberry Shortcake) and Christina (Makeshift Super Man) going out for Halloween in the 1980s

Flags are symbols of reconciliation

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Preview

Flags are symbols of reconciliation

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Monday, Oct. 24, 2022

The Treaty 1 and Métis flags were raised for the first time Oct. 17 in front of Wesley Hall, and will continue to fly at the University of Winnipeg campus landmark.

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Monday, Oct. 24, 2022

Stopped and searched: the humiliation of being profiled

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Preview

Stopped and searched: the humiliation of being profiled

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022

A recent news story about an Indigenous man being flagged as a shoplifter at a Canadian retail chain in Winnipeg hit close to home.

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Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022

Free Press writer Shelley Cook felt embarrassed after a security guard at a local retailer asked to look in her purse as she left the store without buying anything. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

Boo at Zoo weaves spooky magical experience

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Preview

Boo at Zoo weaves spooky magical experience

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Monday, Oct. 17, 2022

Each year when spooky season rolls around, we gather up the family — I’m talking anyone in our circle who wants to join — and venture out to Boo at the Zoo.

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Monday, Oct. 17, 2022

Walks create connections

Shelley Cook 5 minute read Preview

Walks create connections

Shelley Cook 5 minute read Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022

It’s just before 10 a.m. on a chilly Thursday. The sky is overcast, and there’s a hint of winter in the air. A group of about 25 people have gathered at the Comm.Unity.204 building for the twice-weekly Main Street Community Walk. On this day, I am one of those volunteers.

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Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022