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This article was published 12/5/2019 (1149 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A 62-year-old who has raised more than $6 million for orphans in Africa, and a man who has run Manitoba's prestigious theatre centre for almost three decades, are among 12 people who have been chosen to receive the Order of Manitoba, the province's highest honour.
Arvid Loewen of Winnipeg is a long-distance cyclist who has travelled more than 400,000 kilometres while competing in ultra-marathon races to raise money and to draw attention to the plight of African children.
"To me this just validates that ordinary individuals can make a difference. I think the Order of Manitoba basically validates that. I’m very thrilled and humbled to be inducted and I hope it can inspire people to wonder, ‘What difference can I make?’" Loewen told the Free Press.
Steven Schipper is the longest-serving artistic director of the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, who will be retiring at the end of the month, almost 30 years to the day since he took on the role.
"I was both thrilled and humbled when I got the news. It’s a tremendous honour. The main thing I would like to say is that I owe my career to the province of Manitoba and to everyone connected with the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre," Schipper told the Free Press.
On Sunday, the Order of Manitoba advisory council announced the 12 inductees, who will be given their awards at a ceremony at the legislature on July 18. The award was created in 1999 to recognize Manitobans who have enriched the social, cultural or economic well-being of the province and its residents.
Sunday was Manitoba Day, the 149th anniversary of the province's founding getting royal assent. Manitoba didn't formally join Confederation as Canada's fifth province till July 15, 1870.
"The 2019 Order of Manitoba members have each demonstrated excellence and a passionate commitment to making the world a better place at the local, national and international levels," said Lt.-Gov. Janice Filmon in a written statement.
After 31 years spent in the furniture manufacturing business, Loewen left his job in 2005 and dedicated himself to raising money for the Mully Children’s Family Orphanage in Kenya.
"That decision changed our lives. It hasn’t always been easy. What we thought we were going to tap into at age 70 for retirement, that’s been used up now. But I would never stop," Loewen said.
Loewen has travelled across Canada four times, across the United States twice and last year completed a trip from the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico. In 2011, he set a Guinness World Record by cycling from Vancouver to Halifax in 13 days, six hours and 13 minutes.
Through his efforts, each year another $500,000 to $700,000 is raised for the Mully Children’s Family Orphanage, which is a Christian charity that works with disadvantaged children and young adults on the continent.
Since 1989, "15,000 children have been rescued, educated, equipped with life skills and sent onto a life filled with hope rather than a life filled with despair," Loewen said.
Loewen is planning to cycle 15,000 kilometres later this year — one kilometre for each child — by travelling from Winnipeg to Lockport more than 500 times to raise money and awareness for the charity.
Meantime, the Order of Manitoba induction is just one many upcoming celebrations for Schipper as he caps off his esteemed career. On May 27, he’ll be honoured by the Jewish National Fund at its Negev Gala.
The following day, he’ll throw out the first pitch at the Winnipeg Goldeyes game. One day later, he’ll be welcomed into the home – alongside 130 theatre centre volunteers – of Lt.-Gov. Janice Filmon and former Manitoba premier Gary Filmon’s for a celebration.
Schipper, who was born in Montreal, said Manitoba has become his home and it’s an honour to be recognized by a community that has given so much to him over the years.
"The arts are important because they’re the most effective way we know to create a more loving, peaceful world, a more empathetic community - that’s primarily for the audience. And for those who participate, it’s a fast track to both teamwork and innovation," Schipper said.
The other 10 Manitoba to be awarded are:
- James Ehnes: Grammy Award-winning violinist. Born and educated in Brandon, he has performed in more than 30 countries, appearing with many of the world’s most famous orchestras and conductors. He began studying violin at the age of four and was a protégé by age nine. Ehnes studied at New York’s Meadowmount School of Music and is an award-winning graduate of the Juilliard School. He is a member of the Order of Canada.
- Kathy Hildebrand: A dedicated community volunteer in Winkler for more than 35 years, Kathy Hildebrand is the co-founder and president of Hearth Families Incorporated, an organization established to help new immigrants settle in the community. She has helped many immigrant families obtain basic necessities, while also connecting them with local programs to help them learn English. A past winner of the Premier’s Volunteer Service Award, Hildebrand has also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, the Stanley Agricultural Society, community round tables and her church.
- Trudy Schroeder: As executive director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Trudy Schroeder is an arts administrator extraordinaire who succeeded in making the once-struggling WSO profitable for nine consecutive years. She is board president of Orchestras Canada and the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra, and a member of the premier’s economic advisory council on arts and culture. Schroeder has received the Winnipeg Folk Festival’s Award for Distinguished Service. She initiated, and now manages, the development of the Pantages Project, soon to be a major community centre for the arts.
- Vivian Bruce: As a professor of food science and nutrition at the University of Manitoba, Vivian Bruce was instrumental in conducting the first research exploring the health benefits of canola oil and establishing its unique nutritional properties – an important development in the study of the effects of dietary fat on human health. Working with her research colleague, the late Bruce MacDonald, she conducted important research with positive ramifications for food science and the economic viability of such key Manitoba crops as flax, canola and sunflowers.
- Marcel Desautels: A prominent philanthropist and champion of post-secondary education in Canada. After earning three university degrees, he practised law and held senior positions in government and industry. As president and general manager of Creditel of Canada Limited, he led the company to becoming Canada’s largest business credit information and debt recovery organization. After selling Creditel in 1996, Desautels used the proceeds to establish the Canadian Credit Management Foundation, to fund new, innovative programs at Canadian universities. His gifts to various schools have since totalled more than $100 million.
- Barbara Nepinak: A member of the Pine Creek Ojibwa First Nation, Barbara Nepinak is a prominent cultural awareness co-ordinator and a member of the Standing Indigenous Advisory Committee of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Fluent in her ancestral languages, she contributes to the process of language reclamation and retention through her work with the Manitoba Association of Native Languages. Nepinak is a past member of the special advisory council to the Winnipeg police chief.
- Clarence Nepinak: A member of the Pine Creek Ojibwa First Nation, Clarence Nepinak is dedicated to promoting cultural awareness across Canada. He received the Knowledge Keepers Award for his work in preserving and advancing Indigenous culture. Nepinak has served on many boards and councils including the Indigenous advisory council for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
- Harvey Secter: A community leader, Harvey Secter earned a bachelor of commerce from the University of Manitoba (U of M) in 1967, prior to a 20-year career leading Ricki’s Canada Limited. He later earned his bachelor of law degree from the U of M, and a master of law degree from Harvard University. He taught courses in negotiation and mediation at Harvard, before becoming an instructor, then dean, of the U of M faculty of law. From 2010 to 2019, he was U of M chancellor. Secter was honorary chair of the university’s $500-million Front and Centre campaign, reputed to be the largest philanthropic investment in Manitoba history.
- Joy Smith: A former Tory MLA and MP, Joy Smith is one of Canada’s leading anti-human trafficking activists. During her 11-year tenure in parliament, Smith made Canadian history as the first sitting MP to amend the Criminal Code twice, enacting laws that protect victims and punish their abusers including minimum sentencing guidelines for the trafficking of minors and laws making the purchase of sex illegal in Canada. She also wrote the prototype for Canada's action plan to combat human trafficking.
- Dr. Michael West: An internationally renowned physician and researcher, Dr. Michael West succeeded in establishing a centre of neurosurgery excellence in Manitoba. He was the first to introduce gamma knife surgery in Canada, a procedure used to treat conditions, such as brain tumours, that once required more invasive procedures. This technology lets patients recover faster, experience less pain and have fewer post-surgical complications. West is now working with CancerCare Manitoba to develop an extracranial stereostatic body radiation therapy program.
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.