August 13, 2020

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Uplift: Seeing the forest for the trees

Sun dogs glow around a tree on top of Westview Park in January.  (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)

Sun dogs glow around a tree on top of Westview Park in January. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)

There's a favourite story I can tell with the snow still on the ground and with us almost two months away from the first flowers popping out of the soil and the leaves bursting open as spring begins anew.

It was back in 2012 and I was one of a team of reporters and editors who were doing a year-long project called 'Our City, Your World' where every month we featured another ethnic community in Winnipeg and Manitoba.

Each week, Kevin Rollason combs through all the news to curate the finest selection of feel-good stories to warm your heart and lift your spirits. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

Each week, Kevin Rollason combs through all the news to curate the finest selection of feel-good stories to warm your heart and lift your spirits. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

We spoke to people who had immigrated here recently, and also some who had arrived in Canada decades before.

I still remember something one of the immigrants said to me: He came from the Philippines back in the 1960s during roughly the same time of year as now, and he admitted his first impression of Winnipeg was one of shock - and not because of the snow, ice and temperatures.

"I wondered what had happened to all of the trees - why had they all died?" he said, laughing at the recollection. "I'm from the Philippines - our trees don't drop all of their leaves."

Every winter since, I still chuckle when the leaves fall off our trees, the snow comes, and all of our 'dead' trees make their annual appearance here.

Look up now, with newcomer's eyes, and you'll see what a new Canadian sees when they come here. Sometimes we really can't see the forest from the trees.

That's also part of the reason for our weekly Uplift newsletter. People think of the news as a forest filled with stark branches of tragedy and negativity. We want to highlight the many flowers shooting up around them.

-Kevin Rollason


Cold air, warm hearts

  • People take part in a yoga class inside the Ice Castle at Parks Canada at the Forks National Historic Site. (Trevor Hagan / Winnipeg Free Press)

    People take part in a yoga class inside the Ice Castle at Parks Canada at the Forks National Historic Site. (Trevor Hagan / Winnipeg Free Press)

    One of those 'Uplift'ing stories you might have missed in recent days speaks about our relation with the snow and cold.

    Yes, we may have had to shovel out of a snowstorm last week - and, oh boy, did we shovel - but that doesn't mean Winnipeggers don't embrace these months when there is white stuff on the ground all around us.

    This story looks at an hour-long session of outdoor yoga that took place in the Ice Castles exhibition at The Forks. So many Winnipeggers embraced this outdoor event that the dozens of spots available were snapped up almost immediately.

    Even better, and tying into the polar theme, all donations raised went to polar bear conservation.

Happy reunion

  • 16-year-old Naomi (right) is welcomed to Winnipeg by her sister Alice. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press)

    16-year-old Naomi (right) is welcomed to Winnipeg by her sister Alice. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press)

    Imagine it is 2004, you're a mother in Africa and your village is being attacked. Your house is set on fire. You grab your children to escape, but you can't find your two-year-old daughter before you flee.

    For years you believe your toddler is dead -- but when you are able to come to Canada as a refugee, you put her name on a form anyway.

    Years later, you're living a new life in Winnipeg when suddenly you find out your long-lost daughter is alive.

    Last week, 14 years after they were separated, Naomi Bisimwa was reunited with her mother and her siblings.

Exit, stage right

  • Steven Schipper will retire as artistic director for the Royal Manitoba Theatre Company in 2019. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

    Steven Schipper will retire as artistic director for the Royal Manitoba Theatre Company in 2019. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

    Stephen Schipper has helmed the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre through three decades to the culmination of it receiving Royal designation.

    Schipper was the artistic director when Keanu Reeves played here, when William Hurt trod the boards, and when Efrem Zimbalist Jr. joined his daughter Stephanie on stage.

    Now Schipper has announced that he will mark 30 years to the day since he became artistic director by stepping down. We look back on his career.

Folkies rejoice

  • Summer -- and the folk festival -- are just around the corner, right?  RIGHT??  (Justin Samanski-Langille / Winnipeg Free Press) (Justin Samanski-Langille / Winni)

    Summer -- and the folk festival -- are just around the corner, right? RIGHT?? (Justin Samanski-Langille / Winnipeg Free Press)

    The Winnipeg Folk Festival is an annual eclectic celebration of music from around the world and it turns out we'll have been celebrating for 45 years this summer.

    The festival announced its lineup this week with what some hail as its biggest star act ever, nine-time Grammy Award winner Sheryl Crow.

    But the festival, running from July 5 to 8 at Birds Hill Provincial Park features more than Crow. Festivalgoers will also be treated to performances from Australian indie-rocker Courtney Barnett, fiddler Natalie MacMaster, children's entertainer Al Simmons, folk rockers the Strumbellas, and dozens more. Check out the full lineup.

Mission accomplished

  • As part of her goal to get outside and be active, Julie Navitka ran, biked or walked to every park and green space in the city she could access. (Trevor Hagan / Winnipeg Free Press)

    As part of her goal to get outside and be active, Julie Navitka ran, biked or walked to every park and green space in the city she could access. (Trevor Hagan / Winnipeg Free Press)

    There are 1,335 parks and open spaces in Winnipeg. Who knew?

    Well, teacher Julie Navitka knew, and she had a mission to visit every one of those places in a single year. She did it to challenge herself, but, because of her postings about her journey on Facebook, she may have inspired others to visit them, too.

    The last park on Navitka's list was on Lord Avenue in St. Norbert, and you can read what her year was like.

But can they play Chopsticks?

  • Violinists Karl Stobbe and Gwen Hoebig fiddle around for a photo, but in reality, the two are best friends as well as seatmates with the WSO. (Supplied)

    Violinists Karl Stobbe and Gwen Hoebig fiddle around for a photo, but in reality, the two are best friends as well as seatmates with the WSO. (Supplied)

    Two of the diamonds in the crown of our local arts scene are Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra violinists Gwen Hoebig and Karl Stobbe.

    The pair have just released a CD, Leclair - Six Sonatas for Two Violins, Op. 3, and this past weekend the pair were featured with the WSO playing Bach's Concerto in D minor for Two Violins.

    But it turns out the pair are also close friends -- a rarity in the orchestra world -- and are celebrating two decades of playing side-by-side.

Trees, please

  • Real estate agent Carly Kuppers (right) and forester Patricia Pohrebniuk are partners in a program in which agents buy tree plantings for every house sold. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press)

    Real estate agent Carly Kuppers (right) and forester Patricia Pohrebniuk are partners in a program in which agents buy tree plantings for every house sold. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press)

    This week's Uplift began talking about trees and we'll end it with trees. A former photographer at the Free Press once joked that every subdivision in the city is named after the natural feature that was bulldozed to make way for the houses.

    That may be what planted the idea for real estate agent Carly Kuppers, of Royal Le Page Alliance, to come up with Nature's Real Estate.

    The program, being run through the Manitoba Forestry Association, will see trees being planted for every sale of a house -- with the actual number of trees put in the ground tied to the size, in square feet, of the building sold.

Your weekly squee

Male panda Hua Bao rolls in the snow during the official opening of the Ahtari Zoo Snowpanda Resort in Finland last week. (Tommi Anttonen / Lehtikuva via The Associated Press)

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