Free Press
Decades of volunteerism
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Decades of volunteerism

Bev Muzyk will always be remembered for her volunteerism — especially helping people attend the theatre.

Muzyk, who was 69 when she died on Jan. 4, was known as the person who, if someone needed help, helped them.

Her volunteerism began when she helped out at her daughters’ elementary school, mostly in the library. Years later, Muzyk did the same at her grandchildren’s school, this time helping with the hot lunch program.

But it was at the Manitoba Theatre Centre, both before and after it received its Royal designation, where she especially helped. There, Muzyk did years of unpaid work to help theatregoers get to their seats.

Muzyk volunteered as an usher at the theatre’s "First Friday" performance of each play, from the mid-1970s all the way to when the theatre was forced to bring down the curtain for a while due to the pandemic in the spring of 2020.

Muzyk’s two daughters later came to join her, with the three of them together volunteering at MTC for more than two decades.

At the same time, Muzyk also canvassed and knocked on doors for both the Canadian Cancer Society and the Heart and Lung Association. She was a Brownie leader from the late 1980s right up to her illness.

Muzyk began working at the Manitoba Film Classification Board in the 1990s, helping its board members, until she retired in 2017.

Besides her two daughters, Muzyk is survived by her four grandchildren, her mother, sister and brother, and several nieces and nephews. Read more about Bev. 

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason, Reporter

Kevin Rollason

How They Lived

Paulette Huggins was a beloved principal at École J.B. Mitchell School for seven years.

Huggins, who died Dec. 29, was an educator for 34 years, starting as a classroom teacher and working her way to administration.

She worked in special education and was a pillar in the French immersion community.

A teacher in the same school died of COVID-19 just days before Huggins over the Christmas holidays, but the family said the two deaths were not related and thanked the care she received at the St. Boniface Hospital’s acute cardiac care unit. Read more about Paulette. 



Józef Kiska served in the military in Czechoslovakia before coming to Canada in 1968.

Kiska, who died Jan. 2 at 75, didn’t know any English so his first job was as a custodian at the CBC. But he didn’t stay there.

Kiska went on to own a structural steel drafting company that helped create many buildings in the city, including Portage Place and the revolving restaurant at the top of Fort Garry Place.

Kiska also volunteered a lot in the community. He was president of the local Canadian Slovak League and executive director of the Canadian National Council and the Slovak World Congress. He was an honorary consul here for the Slovak government and even created the Voice of Slovakia TV program from 1986 to 1996.

For everything he did, Kiska was honoured with the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal. Read more about Józef. 



If you’ve been to Winnipeg Beach you’ve likely shopped at the Blue Rooster.

And if you shopped at the Blue Rooster, you would have met Karen Bridgwater.

Bridgwater, who died Dec. 30 at age 59 after a bout with cancer, was born in Fort William, Ont., and came with her family to a farm near Niverville, Man., before moving to Winnipeg.

Later, Bridgwater fell in love with the lakeside community of Winnipeg Beach, saying it “wasn’t far like everyone says.”

She opened the boutique to sell beach wear and the work of artisans, and also coordinated events, edited and wrote the Winnipeg Beach Gazette, and volunteered in many areas. Read more about Karen. 



You’re never too old to go back to school — just look at Kristine Cox.

Cox, who was 71 when she died Dec. 27, was a dispatcher at her dad’s taxi company for years.

When she was 40, Cox decided to go back to school to get both her Grade 12 and train to become a health care aide.

She worked for 17 years at Red River Place in Selkirk. Read more about Kristine. 


A Life’s Story


The most recent story in this weekly Winnipeg Free Press feature saw the chronicling of several life stories.

Our annual article, looking at the passings of some of the province’s most prominent citizens, shone a celebratory spotlight on nine Manitobans who helped make a difference here during their lives.

It’s hard to think what area of the city Helen Hayles didn’t try to help during her decades of volunteer service. (Mike Aporius / Winnipeg Free Press files)

One of them was Helen Hayles, who volunteered for so many of our local charitable and non-profit organizations that she was honoured by being inducted into the Order of Canada.

You can read about Hayles, as well as the eight others, here.



Until next time, I hope you continue to write your own life’s story.



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