Shelley Cook

Shelley Cook

Columnist, Manager of Reader Bridge project

Shelley is a born and raised Winnipegger. She is a proud Indigenous woman with family ties to 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 that she is so grateful for.

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 for her, 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

Practice doesn’t always make perfect, The Rehearsal shows us

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Preview

Practice doesn’t always make perfect, The Rehearsal shows us

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Monday, Aug. 8, 2022

I’ve been watching a show on HBO called The Rehearsal. It’s written, directed and stars Nathan Fielder (from Nathan for You and This Hour Has 22 Minutes). It’s a docu-comedy type show that you’ll either get and subsequently love, or that you’ll hate because it’s so far out there. That’s sort of standard for Fielder, because his comedy is so awkward and quirky, but it’s also genius. At least in my opinion.

On Friday nights after we get the kids to bed, my partner and I usually get a chance to watch something we want to watch. If I’m being honest, it’s one of the more exciting parts of our day, because that means it’s time to wind down and take a load off. (Also, my kids are into watching some shows that grind on my eardrums, so I welcome the reprieve.)

This is the stage of life and level of excitement we’re in.

Anyway, the show features Fielder, known for his deadpan delivery, who is on a mission to help ordinary people rehearse difficult conversations or life events before they actually go through with the real conversation or life event.

Monday, Aug. 8, 2022

I’ve been watching a show on HBO called The Rehearsal. It’s written, directed and stars Nathan Fielder (from Nathan for You and This Hour Has 22 Minutes). It’s a docu-comedy type show that you’ll either get and subsequently love, or that you’ll hate because it’s so far out there. That’s sort of standard for Fielder, because his comedy is so awkward and quirky, but it’s also genius. At least in my opinion.

On Friday nights after we get the kids to bed, my partner and I usually get a chance to watch something we want to watch. If I’m being honest, it’s one of the more exciting parts of our day, because that means it’s time to wind down and take a load off. (Also, my kids are into watching some shows that grind on my eardrums, so I welcome the reprieve.)

This is the stage of life and level of excitement we’re in.

Anyway, the show features Fielder, known for his deadpan delivery, who is on a mission to help ordinary people rehearse difficult conversations or life events before they actually go through with the real conversation or life event.

Wanbdi Wakita has been patiently listening all his 80 years

Shelley Cook 13 minute read Preview

Wanbdi Wakita has been patiently listening all his 80 years

Shelley Cook 13 minute read Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022

It’s a hot summer day and Wanbdi Wakita sits at a patio table on the deck of the St. Andrews home he shares with his wife, Pahan PteSanWin.

The sun is beating down intensely and the air is thick with heat. The sound of birds chirping is briefly interrupted every so often by small airplanes approaching and departing the nearby St. Andrews airport. From the patio table on the deck, you can see a meticulously kept yard with a trampoline, a swing set, and a slide that’s built right off the deck for the grandkids. He has a large family, 12 kids (six who are adopted) and 32 grandchildren.

His voice is quiet, but his words are strong. For him, words are very important.

“We’re not calling ourselves elders, we’re calling ourselves grandfathers and grandmothers. In our language it’s different. Ocinye or Hotokiye (in Dakota), first voices we’re called — ’cause every time they’re (the ancestors) going to talk, it’s always to the old people. So that’s what we go by,” he says.

Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Sharing a ceremony experience devoted to weather, Wanbdi Wakita says he’s concerned ‘we’re not listening to our ancestors. We’re not listening to Mother Earth.’

For the love of dogs: helping to care for pets in fire zone

Shelley Cook 5 minute read Preview

For the love of dogs: helping to care for pets in fire zone

Shelley Cook 5 minute read Monday, Aug. 1, 2022

When 2,000 residents of the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation were forced out of Pukatawagan because of a wildfire in July, they had to leave their beloved pets behind.

“Sometimes people are evacuated for two weeks to past a month, and they’re not allowed to bring their animals and it hurts them and it’s upsetting,” said Jennifer Medlicott, a volunteer with Manitoba Animal Alliance.

Eight people stayed behind. One resident, Desmond, has worked tirelessly to care for his animals, including the ones left behind in locked homes. His efforts have undoubtedly saved lives, but the situation is far bigger than what he can do on his own.

“We thought: what can we pull together to help? It’s chaotic, but somehow we all manage to work jobs and still put in a ton of hours into helping these dogs,” said Medlicott.

Monday, Aug. 1, 2022

SUPPLIED
Manitoba Animal Alliance pulled 31 vulnerable dogs out of the community of Mathias Colomb Cree Nation in Pukatawagan, and have fed and cared for hundreds more in the community.

After months of painful stillness, a mother finds solace in a return to her art

Shelley Cook 6 minute read Preview

After months of painful stillness, a mother finds solace in a return to her art

Shelley Cook 6 minute read Monday, Jul. 25, 2022

The smell of medicines fills her tiny North End home on this warm Thursday morning. Candy Volk sits on the corner of her sofa, while three of her grandsons — all teenagers — sit around the dining room table using their devices in the other room. Occasionally, the sound of cars whizzing by on the fairly busy side street outside drowns out the sounds from inside this home. The TV murmurs in the background, offering just enough noise to be present. Fresh air wafts in through the open screen door, blocked by a baby gate so the small dog doesn’t escape. The walls are filled with photos of the close-knit family, and there’s a shelf stuffed with knick-knacks and mementoes that hold memories, sometimes too painful to say out loud.

Volk pulls out a small plastic bag from the table beside her. The bag contains about 20 pairs of individually packaged beaded earrings she and her niece, Jessica Bird, have made.

“I did a lot of beading before. It was just something to do,” she says, dumping the earrings on the couch beside her and sorting though them.

Monday, Jul. 25, 2022

After losing her daughter and tiny grandson in a car crash two years ago, Candy Volk found it too painful to practise her beading art. Now, she’s returned to it with a deep feeling of connection. Volk is hard at work creating earrings for an upcoming sale at Club Regent Casino. (Supplied)

Frazzled fun at Fringe

Shelley Cook 5 minute read Preview

Frazzled fun at Fringe

Shelley Cook 5 minute read Monday, Jul. 18, 2022

This year is the first year I’ve attended the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival.

As a lifelong Winnipegger, I feel a bit of embarrassment about this. The festival has existed for nearly as long as I have (35 years) and I had been meaning to maybe check it out one day, though never quite getting around to it.

This year, however, was the year. I reviewed five shows for the Free Press and was blown away by how great the experience was.

On the first night of the festival, I reviewed The Paladin (sci-fi action comedy) and Civilized (drama about Canada’s legacy of racism and mistreatment of Indigenous peoples). I went to both (one after the other at venue 23 at 188 Princess St.) alone because we didn’t have a babysitter.

Monday, Jul. 18, 2022

Supplied
Charlene Van Buekenhout in Minoosh Doo-Kapeeshiw.

Table at heart of women’s centre and community

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Table at heart of women’s centre and community

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Monday, Jul. 11, 2022

It’s a place to gather, connect and take refuge in the shade from the summer heat or block wind from a winter chill.

The yard of the North Point Douglas Women’s Centre is a meeting spot for people in the community and, until recently, so was the rickety old wooden picnic table at its heart. The table is now gone, succumbed to time, use and Winnipeg’s extreme seasons, replaced (for the meantime) by a couple of stumps someone donated when they cut a tree down.

“There are so many ways that people use this spot — it’s a super popular spot for people in the community,” said Khalida Benedictson, office administrator of NPDWC, adding many would connect there with neighbours for coffee and conversation.

What’s more, Benedictson explained, the table outside was an accessible place for the centre to cater to clients in wheelchairs and with mobility issues, as the building located at 221 Austin St. N. (a former corner store) doesn’t suitably meet those needs of some.

Monday, Jul. 11, 2022

It’s a place to gather, connect and take refuge in the shade from the summer heat or block wind from a winter chill.

The yard of the North Point Douglas Women’s Centre is a meeting spot for people in the community and, until recently, so was the rickety old wooden picnic table at its heart. The table is now gone, succumbed to time, use and Winnipeg’s extreme seasons, replaced (for the meantime) by a couple of stumps someone donated when they cut a tree down.

“There are so many ways that people use this spot — it’s a super popular spot for people in the community,” said Khalida Benedictson, office administrator of NPDWC, adding many would connect there with neighbours for coffee and conversation.

What’s more, Benedictson explained, the table outside was an accessible place for the centre to cater to clients in wheelchairs and with mobility issues, as the building located at 221 Austin St. N. (a former corner store) doesn’t suitably meet those needs of some.

From baby steps to an enduring bond

Shelley Cook 6 minute read Preview

From baby steps to an enduring bond

Shelley Cook 6 minute read Monday, Jul. 4, 2022

In September 2019, Anroup Patti saw an Instagram post that would change her life, and the life of a married couple — Mat Arye, a software engineer, and Jeremy Tse, a financial analyst from New York.

Patti, a speech-language pathologist, was scrolling through Instagram when she saw a photo by local photographer Sunny Szpak-Holly. The woman in the photo was smiling, with a beautiful fall day as the backdrop. She held a letter board that read, “This stork will be delivering a special bundle for a deserving couple, May 4, 2020.”

The caption went into more detail about how the woman had decided to have a baby for another family.

“I had just had my daughter in April of 2019 and I was very intrigued. I thought it was fascinating and just became curious about what it all entailed,” Patti said of the photo, and the woman’s journey.

Monday, Jul. 4, 2022

SUNNY S-H PHOTOGRAPHY
From left, Mat Arye, Anroup Patti (holding baby August) and Jeremy Tse met and built a family through an incredible surrogacy journey.

Mothers on mission to create safe space for parents

Shelley Cook 5 minute read Preview

Mothers on mission to create safe space for parents

Shelley Cook 5 minute read Monday, Jun. 27, 2022

Sixteen years ago, two mothers, Alba Lopez Gomez and Naomi Finkelstein, met at a meeting of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

“I went… because my son had come out, and I had never gone to a support meeting for anything,” explained Finkelstein. “This was one thing that I really knew that I had to do. I knew I was going to support my child, but I wasn’t quite sure how.”

At the same meeting, Lopez Gomez, whose son had come out as transgender and was around the same age as Finkelstein’s son, was trying to navigate how best to support her child. In fact, Finkelstein said, the boys had probably met one another in high school when they attended the same group at the Rainbow Resource Centre.

The women hit it off. They were the only two parents at the meeting whose kids were transgender. They formed a tight friendship almost immediately. At that time, there wasn’t a lot of support or resources for parents.

Monday, Jun. 27, 2022

Alba Lopez Gomez (left) and Naomi Finkelstein help each other to help their transgender kids. (Shelley Cook / Winnipeg Free Press)

Bumping into new friends in a cemetery

Shelley Cook 6 minute read Preview

Bumping into new friends in a cemetery

Shelley Cook 6 minute read Monday, Jun. 20, 2022

It was a warm Saturday evening that I was making my way home from Brokenhead Ojibway Nation. The sun was still hot in the sky and there was no sign of nightfall in spite of the numbers that were moving forward on the clock — this was the kind of hot (nearly) summer evening that Manitoba is notorious for.

I took a right on Highway 59, making the detour through Selkirk. I had enough time and daylight left to make a quick stop at St. Clements Cemetery to pay my respects to my family members that are buried there, before making my way home. I always try to stop in when I’m in the area. It’s the only place I’ve ever remembered visiting my grandparents on my dad’s side.

I pulled into the cemetery. It was mostly still, though I immediately saw a woman wandering around the graves. At first I thought she was just there to do what I had come to do — visit her loved ones. However, I noticed she wandered to various graves in different spots with a watering can in hand, with no particular spot or grave that she was visiting.

Maybe she worked there. It seemed like weird hours for a caretaker, but then again I don’t know much about the hours people keep besides my own.

Monday, Jun. 20, 2022

Cook graves at the cemetery in St Clements in Selkirk

Capturing a moment in Indigenous elders’ lives

Shelley Cook 6 minute read Preview

Capturing a moment in Indigenous elders’ lives

Shelley Cook 6 minute read Sunday, Jun. 12, 2022

Gerald Kuehl has been creating beautiful pencil portraits of Indigenous elders and knowledge keepers from all over Manitoba and the Northwest Territories for 25 years.

The drawings are meticulous and detail every wrinkle, spot and hair, and the exact texture of that person in the exact moment. They are nothing short of mesmerizing.

Kuehl, a self-taught artist and photographer, invited me to his home to see a glimpse of the world of portraits he’s created. We’ve been friends on Facebook for a while. I’m not sure exactly how long, but he shows up on my feed, and I show up on his. When he posts pictures of his work online, I fall over myself to hit the “like” button as fast as I can, because they are stunning.

Kuehl’s portraits, beautifully framed and matted, are hung on walls throughout the home. They are a powerful and exquisite monument to the people he’s met and the stories he’s heard. Most of them hang there only temporarily, until Kuehl can meet with the person he’s drawn to present the gift to them. Each work takes hundreds of hours because of the painstaking attention to detail. In all, he’s drawn about 290 portraits.

Sunday, Jun. 12, 2022

Harriet Redhead (Facebook photo)

Working from home tilts the balance

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Preview

Working from home tilts the balance

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Monday, Jun. 6, 2022

When the work-from-home model became mainstream during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was new and a bit scary.

Those of us with school-aged children were also participating in (and often failing at) home learning and trying our best not to drown in the hectic and foreign dynamic.

I remember how hard it was to adapt to this change, though I knew early on how privileged I was to be able to secure myself and my family during a pandemic.

I missed that work version of myself — the one who did her hair and wore red lipstick; someone who wasn’t being asked for a snack or a glass of chocolate milk every five minutes. I remember how sorely I missed my work friends and our cubicle and lunchroom chats. It felt isolating to be away from that building I spent nearly every single day going to and from.

Monday, Jun. 6, 2022

When the work-from-home model became mainstream during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was new and a bit scary.

Those of us with school-aged children were also participating in (and often failing at) home learning and trying our best not to drown in the hectic and foreign dynamic.

I remember how hard it was to adapt to this change, though I knew early on how privileged I was to be able to secure myself and my family during a pandemic.

I missed that work version of myself — the one who did her hair and wore red lipstick; someone who wasn’t being asked for a snack or a glass of chocolate milk every five minutes. I remember how sorely I missed my work friends and our cubicle and lunchroom chats. It felt isolating to be away from that building I spent nearly every single day going to and from.

Troubled past provided lessons Charlotte Nolin needed to transform

Shelley Cook 14 minute read Preview

Troubled past provided lessons Charlotte Nolin needed to transform

Shelley Cook 14 minute read Monday, May. 30, 2022

The first time Charlotte Nolin met her birth mother, it was Christmas 1966 and she was 16 years old.

Nolin, a ’60s Scoop survivor taken from her family when she was only six months old, had navigated her childhood through the child welfare system, alone and unaware she had a family.

At one point, a foster parent told her that her parents had died in a car accident. Nobody ever mentioned that she, the youngest of eight, had siblings. It was a social worker who eventually connected her to her brothers and sisters, many already adults.

“My mom came over to my sister’s place for Christmas dinner… and as she was coming up the sidewalk, my older sister goes, ‘Oh god, here comes our drunken mother.’ ‘Cause mom had an alcohol problem, the same as dad,” Nolin recalls.

Monday, May. 30, 2022

John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press
Charlotte Nolin, an Oji-Cree, Métis two-spirit knowledge keeper, is a ’60s Scoop survivor.

Visiting sister provides insight

Shelley Cook 3 minute read Preview

Visiting sister provides insight

Shelley Cook 3 minute read Monday, May. 30, 2022

My youngest daughter and I travelled to Vancouver to visit my sister on the May long weekend.

The city holds a special place in my heart. It was a whirlwind of a trip, though we made the most of our time there, packing in as much as we could.

On the last day, we were driving through the tree-lined streets of a neighbourhood just outside of downtown Vancouver, talking and listening to music. I was high on that feeling of being in vacation mode and filled with fantasies of what it would be like to live in this big, vibrant city, and my sister was basking in our company. There was a bit of sadness in the air, knowing the visit was winding down. I miss her terribly.

The conversation flowed about regular sort of things that happen in our daily lives, and we somehow ended up talking about our goals and hopes for the future — some which seemed impossible or just out of reach. It was easy for both of us to point out the things we lacked or the things we felt defeated in. Looking forward, we were at the beginning of our current journey.

Monday, May. 30, 2022

My youngest daughter and I travelled to Vancouver to visit my sister on the May long weekend.

The city holds a special place in my heart. It was a whirlwind of a trip, though we made the most of our time there, packing in as much as we could.

On the last day, we were driving through the tree-lined streets of a neighbourhood just outside of downtown Vancouver, talking and listening to music. I was high on that feeling of being in vacation mode and filled with fantasies of what it would be like to live in this big, vibrant city, and my sister was basking in our company. There was a bit of sadness in the air, knowing the visit was winding down. I miss her terribly.

The conversation flowed about regular sort of things that happen in our daily lives, and we somehow ended up talking about our goals and hopes for the future — some which seemed impossible or just out of reach. It was easy for both of us to point out the things we lacked or the things we felt defeated in. Looking forward, we were at the beginning of our current journey.

Memories make old toys more than just plastic pieces

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Preview

Memories make old toys more than just plastic pieces

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Tuesday, May. 24, 2022

A few weeks ago, I gifted some of my kids’ large plastic backyard toys — including a tower slide and pool combo, a small picnic table, a Little Tikes playhouse and a water table — to friends who have smaller kids.

These toys have taken up so much space in our backyard — a heap of colourful plastic telling everyone in the neighbourhood that yes, we have a bunch of kids who live here.

These structures have been well-loved throughout the early summers of my kids’ lives, though less and less. They have been the setting for some of the most fun days outside in the sunshine, and the backdrop and stage for core memories they’ll take with them into adulthood.

I can’t tell you how many times my kids have had water fights in that old pool, or about the countless dance parties that took place on the top of the tower slide. The water table brought so much joy to my toddler, who grew up too fast.

Tuesday, May. 24, 2022

A few weeks ago, I gifted some of my kids’ large plastic backyard toys — including a tower slide and pool combo, a small picnic table, a Little Tikes playhouse and a water table — to friends who have smaller kids.

These toys have taken up so much space in our backyard — a heap of colourful plastic telling everyone in the neighbourhood that yes, we have a bunch of kids who live here.

These structures have been well-loved throughout the early summers of my kids’ lives, though less and less. They have been the setting for some of the most fun days outside in the sunshine, and the backdrop and stage for core memories they’ll take with them into adulthood.

I can’t tell you how many times my kids have had water fights in that old pool, or about the countless dance parties that took place on the top of the tower slide. The water table brought so much joy to my toddler, who grew up too fast.

Grieving mother to get high school diploma at age 57

Shelley Cook 5 minute read Preview

Grieving mother to get high school diploma at age 57

Shelley Cook 5 minute read Monday, May. 16, 2022

Fifty-seven-year-old Vivian Ketchum will walk across the stage in her cap and gown and accept her high school diploma on June 30.

She’s been working toward her diploma since last October.

“Last year, I applied for a really good job. I was qualified and had all the technical skills, except they wanted the transcript of a Grade 12,” she said.

Ketchum decided to look into getting her high school diploma. When she walked into the Winnipeg School Division offices, she wasn’t sure where it would lead, but a guidance councillor had her fill out forms.

Monday, May. 16, 2022

Vivian Ketchum poses for her high school graduation photo while holding the moccasins of her late son, Tyler.

Petition seeks to get BodyBreak in hall of fame

Shelley Cook 5 minute read Preview

Petition seeks to get BodyBreak in hall of fame

Shelley Cook 5 minute read Monday, May. 9, 2022

A few years ago, in the wee hours of the morning, Virgin Radio’s Ace Burpee and Chrissy Troy were getting ready for their morning show.

“It was the end of 2019, maybe early 2020,” Troy said in a phone call. “Ace and I were in the studio before the show started and he just said to me ‘do you think Hal and Joanne are in the sports hall of fame?’”

Burpee was referring to Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod, the iconic BodyBreak duo that has been delivering their “keep fit and have fun” message on Canadian television sets since the 1980s.

Scouring the Canadian sports hall of fame website, Troy found no sign of Johnson and McLeod. She and Burpee figured the pair’s induction was a no-brainer. However, the morning show, which they host alongside Lloyd (Kevin Frobisher) and Amber Saleem, was about to start and they dropped the pre-show conversation. Nothing else really came of it — until earlier this year.

Monday, May. 9, 2022

A few years ago, in the wee hours of the morning, Virgin Radio’s Ace Burpee and Chrissy Troy were getting ready for their morning show.

“It was the end of 2019, maybe early 2020,” Troy said in a phone call. “Ace and I were in the studio before the show started and he just said to me ‘do you think Hal and Joanne are in the sports hall of fame?’”

Burpee was referring to Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod, the iconic BodyBreak duo that has been delivering their “keep fit and have fun” message on Canadian television sets since the 1980s.

Scouring the Canadian sports hall of fame website, Troy found no sign of Johnson and McLeod. She and Burpee figured the pair’s induction was a no-brainer. However, the morning show, which they host alongside Lloyd (Kevin Frobisher) and Amber Saleem, was about to start and they dropped the pre-show conversation. Nothing else really came of it — until earlier this year.

Sharing comfort of being comfortable in own skin

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Preview

Sharing comfort of being comfortable in own skin

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Monday, May. 2, 2022

It was one of those days, where nothing fit and I fretted over my reflection in the mirror.

My hair wasn’t right and no amount of styling seemed to work. My three-barrel curling iron, set on high, only produced frizzled strands of singed hair instead of the beachy waves I was going for. My makeup didn’t seem to cover my blemishes, and my body seemed particularly rotund that day. I felt uncomfortable in my own skin.

Body image issues were creeping in fast.

I try so hard to be body positive and to embrace and appreciate who I am and what I look like. My body, after all, has walked me through many years and experiences in life. It was my daughter’s first home, as she grew from it. It might not be perfect, but it is strong, and it is a gift.

Monday, May. 2, 2022

It was one of those days, where nothing fit and I fretted over my reflection in the mirror.

My hair wasn’t right and no amount of styling seemed to work. My three-barrel curling iron, set on high, only produced frizzled strands of singed hair instead of the beachy waves I was going for. My makeup didn’t seem to cover my blemishes, and my body seemed particularly rotund that day. I felt uncomfortable in my own skin.

Body image issues were creeping in fast.

I try so hard to be body positive and to embrace and appreciate who I am and what I look like. My body, after all, has walked me through many years and experiences in life. It was my daughter’s first home, as she grew from it. It might not be perfect, but it is strong, and it is a gift.

Fierce competition, important learning… and fun

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Preview

Fierce competition, important learning… and fun

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Monday, Apr. 25, 2022

It’s trivia, except instead of being the first one to know the answer, players of Non-Trivial Trivia strive to be the quickest to find the answer through a Google search. The goal is to learn the histories and have fun doing it.

The online quiz was born in the summer of 2020. Michael Young, a Winnipeg programmer of industrial control systems, was taking Yale University’s online course African American Studies. He started the course a few months after George Floyd was murdered by Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer.

“I felt like I needed to do something,” Young said, adding a friend pointed him in the direction of the course.

Young figured learning was a good first step in being part of change. The more he learned, the more the world and his view of the world changed.

Monday, Apr. 25, 2022

It’s trivia, except instead of being the first one to know the answer, players of Non-Trivial Trivia strive to be the quickest to find the answer through a Google search. The goal is to learn the histories and have fun doing it.

The online quiz was born in the summer of 2020. Michael Young, a Winnipeg programmer of industrial control systems, was taking Yale University’s online course African American Studies. He started the course a few months after George Floyd was murdered by Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer.

“I felt like I needed to do something,” Young said, adding a friend pointed him in the direction of the course.

Young figured learning was a good first step in being part of change. The more he learned, the more the world and his view of the world changed.

Anonymous Winnipeg artist draws up Ukraine relief

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Preview

Anonymous Winnipeg artist draws up Ukraine relief

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Monday, Apr. 11, 2022

Have you ever seen a Winnipeg Waldo around the city?

The art pieces have been popping up all around the city, mostly in the warmer months, since 2017. They are always some variation of Waldo, the main character in the series of children’s puzzle books created by English illustrator Martin Handford.

The beauty of the local art is you never know where you’ll see a new Waldo — on a hydro pole, the back of a sign, on a building or fence — or how long it will be there.

It’s a little local treasure and a little burst of beauty for all to enjoy.

Monday, Apr. 11, 2022

Image of the Winnipeg Waldo images that are being sold to support Ukraine. (Supplied)

Indigenous elder, military veteran and residential school survivor has found peace after all these years

Shelley Cook 11 minute read Preview

Indigenous elder, military veteran and residential school survivor has found peace after all these years

Shelley Cook 11 minute read Thursday, Apr. 7, 2022

Melvin Swan is a proud Indigenous military veteran.

His awards and military decorations hang on the wall of the living room, a prominent display of his service, and a big part of who he is. Most noticeable is a large picture of a young Swan wearing a military police uniform; a timeless capture of a young warrior with a baby face and hardened eyes.

“My life’s been a war, I’ll tell ya,” he says sitting in an armchair in the North Kildonan home that he shares with his wife, Una, and their three cats Boots, Shadow and Zoro.

“I had a stroke in April 2012, I took on the army for discrimination back in ’94,” he says almost immediately after introducing himself.

Thursday, Apr. 7, 2022

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
‘I’ve learned to forgive a lot. I’ve learned to forgive a lot and be able to live and keep voicing and using platforms to deliver,’ says Melvin Swan, age 63, survivor.

Weekend of hockey, weekend of pride

Shelley Cook 5 minute read Preview

Weekend of hockey, weekend of pride

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

HEADINGLEY — The sounds echoed in the Camp Manitou ice rink as the women-led Southern Thunderbird Medicine Drum group sang out into the unseasonably cold March morning.

The thumping of the drum, so heavy you could feel it all the way in your soul, is an invitation to gather in ceremony and celebration. On this day, the thumping was in honour of the partnership between the Winnipeg Aboriginal Sport Achievement Centre and True North Sports and Entertainment Ltd., and their commitment to investing in youth.

A fair-sized group had gathered at the spot for the unveiling of the new WASAC and Follow Your Dreams jerseys and a cheque presentation event at Camp Manitou, in Headingley. Many in attendance were wearing shirts and hoodies bearing the Indigenized Winnipeg Jets logo — an NHL first of its kind, designed four years ago by Leticia Spence of Pimicikamak Cree Nation.

John Olfert, True North president and chief operating officer, presented Lindsay Campbell, WASAC North co-ordinator, with a giant cheque for $43,447.85 — proceeds from retail initiatives that will be invested back into Indigenous youth throughout Manitoba.

Monday, Apr. 4, 2022

HEADINGLEY — The sounds echoed in the Camp Manitou ice rink as the women-led Southern Thunderbird Medicine Drum group sang out into the unseasonably cold March morning.

The thumping of the drum, so heavy you could feel it all the way in your soul, is an invitation to gather in ceremony and celebration. On this day, the thumping was in honour of the partnership between the Winnipeg Aboriginal Sport Achievement Centre and True North Sports and Entertainment Ltd., and their commitment to investing in youth.

A fair-sized group had gathered at the spot for the unveiling of the new WASAC and Follow Your Dreams jerseys and a cheque presentation event at Camp Manitou, in Headingley. Many in attendance were wearing shirts and hoodies bearing the Indigenized Winnipeg Jets logo — an NHL first of its kind, designed four years ago by Leticia Spence of Pimicikamak Cree Nation.

John Olfert, True North president and chief operating officer, presented Lindsay Campbell, WASAC North co-ordinator, with a giant cheque for $43,447.85 — proceeds from retail initiatives that will be invested back into Indigenous youth throughout Manitoba.

Progress, like a song, takes a while to get in tune

Shelley Cook 3 minute read Preview

Progress, like a song, takes a while to get in tune

Shelley Cook 3 minute read Monday, Mar. 28, 2022

During lulls in the day, when my partner has a few spare moments between online meetings and work, he picks up his acoustic guitar and strums, practising notes and chords, turning them into songs.

Sometimes he’ll give commentary on how the music comes together or about the song itself. Sometimes he’ll sing along to the music he’s making or mutter in frustration when he’s made a mistake. His teacher is a guy he found on YouTube who uploads videos from his home somewhere in America.

For the most part, we are both still working from home. I’ve been listening to my partner practise over the months, sometimes in tune with his hobby and other times annoyed by it because the sounds are in the way of whatever I’m doing. He has managed to finesse sloppy chords into smooth transitions, giving life to a song and his hobby.

The funny thing is, I didn’t notice how good he’d gotten until a song he was playing one day caught my attention. I thought to myself, “Dang, he got good.”

Monday, Mar. 28, 2022

During lulls in the day, when my partner has a few spare moments between online meetings and work, he picks up his acoustic guitar and strums, practising notes and chords, turning them into songs.

Sometimes he’ll give commentary on how the music comes together or about the song itself. Sometimes he’ll sing along to the music he’s making or mutter in frustration when he’s made a mistake. His teacher is a guy he found on YouTube who uploads videos from his home somewhere in America.

For the most part, we are both still working from home. I’ve been listening to my partner practise over the months, sometimes in tune with his hobby and other times annoyed by it because the sounds are in the way of whatever I’m doing. He has managed to finesse sloppy chords into smooth transitions, giving life to a song and his hobby.

The funny thing is, I didn’t notice how good he’d gotten until a song he was playing one day caught my attention. I thought to myself, “Dang, he got good.”

Boot drive marches to successful season

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Preview

Boot drive marches to successful season

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

A few years ago, Robyn Brown was working as a family centre co-ordinator in the Louis Riel School Division. Part of her job was helping to outfit children and families, who needed a little bit of help during the winter season with attire.

She worked with community capacity builders such as Harvest Manitoba and Koats for Kids, but there were a couple of students still in need.

“I had a mom phone me to ask if I had any boots for her kids,” Brown explained in a phone call, as her one-year-old daughter gurgled and cooed in the background. “She couldn’t get her kids to school because they walked, and they didn’t have boots.”

The phone call moved her; a light-bulb moment that made act.

Monday, Mar. 21, 2022

A few years ago, Robyn Brown was working as a family centre co-ordinator in the Louis Riel School Division. Part of her job was helping to outfit children and families, who needed a little bit of help during the winter season with attire.

She worked with community capacity builders such as Harvest Manitoba and Koats for Kids, but there were a couple of students still in need.

“I had a mom phone me to ask if I had any boots for her kids,” Brown explained in a phone call, as her one-year-old daughter gurgled and cooed in the background. “She couldn’t get her kids to school because they walked, and they didn’t have boots.”

The phone call moved her; a light-bulb moment that made act.

Deepening bond with Indigenous culture

Shelley Cook 4 minute read Preview

Deepening bond with Indigenous culture

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

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of sitting down for lunch with Wally Chartrand.

He is an Indigenous knowledge keeper, traditional pipe carrier, sweat lodge holder, sun dancer, and a shkabeh, which means helper. He is also on the executive management team at Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata in Winnipeg, as the keeper of the spirit.

I met Chartrand once before, briefly last year in a sharing circle at the end of a conference we both attended. We barely spoke then, he accepted my Facebook friend request after the conference wrapped.

More recently, he graciously agreed to meet me for an interview when I messaged him out of the blue last month. Initially, when I messaged him, I wasn’t sure that he’d even remember or know who I was.

Monday, Mar. 14, 2022

For columnist Shelley Cook, meeting Wally Chartrand meant much more than just having an interview with the Indigenous knowledge keeper. (Shelley Cook / Winnipeg Free Press)