I’m Shelley, and I’ve been given the chance to try my hand at this newsletter since Doug Spiers retired.
I’m a bit nervous, if I’m being honest! Doug has big, joyful shoes to fill. But I’m going to give it my best shot. I hope y’all stick around with me for this weekly dose of Uplift.
We’ve made it to February! There’s plenty of snow out there, and it’s cold. The groundhog saw its shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter.
We can do this (I say and write with an exasperated sigh). The days are getting a little longer and brighter, and cold, snowy days can actually be pleasant with the proper attire. I’ll admit I haven’t adapted to the wind -- but the cold and snow I can do.
I bought some snow pants at a thrift store a few years ago and they were a big game-changer for me. I never really thought to invest in snow pants because I didn’t see the need. I walk to and from my car in the winter, spending as little time as possible outside. Or, at least that’s what I used to do.
Buying a pair of snow pants changed my whole relationship with winter. It seems so obvious, yet until I actually owned a pair (as an adult) I had no idea what I was missing. Turns out I like winter when I’m warm enough.
We (my partner and our three kids) often go sledding down the hill by our house, and we recently spent a Sunday afternoon building a big snow fort in our front yard. Considering this winter has given us more snow than in recent years, there’s been no shortage of building materials.
There’s a whole world out there, even when it’s cold. Who knew? (I’m being sarcastic, in case it’s not obvious.) There are plenty of people, such as the incredible folks at Festival du Voyageur, who enjoy Manitoba winter days!
Tuesday was Lunar New Year -- 2022 is the year of the Tiger. Kung Hei Fat Choi to all who celebrated and still may be celebrating. This month is also Black History Month. The wonderful folks at Black History Manitoba Celebration Committee are hosting a number of virtual events, with the aim of educating and empowering. Learn, share and act. The events are open to all. Check out the event listings here.
This week in good news
In celebrating Lunar New Year, Free Press writer Eva Wasney produced a piece about Jimmy Le, a local 24-year-old pharmacist who is carrying on a family tradition of preparing Nian Go, cake that brings together his family during the holiday season. The story is not only sweet but wonderfully nostalgic.
Jimmy Le shows off his nian gao, a traditional dessert served during Chinese New Year that is said to confer luck. (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press)
Aaron Epp wrote a wonderful story about Winnipegger Michelle Houssin, who decided to give back to the Dakota Community Centre as a volunteer after she retired. Inspired by the numerous coaches, managers, conveyors and canteen workers who volunteered when her son was involved in sports programs, Michelle felt it was her time to give back.
Volunteer co-ordinator Michelle Houssin volunteers three times a week, managing the volunteer database software and assisting with onboarding and scheduling volunteers. (Jessica Lee / Winnipeg Free Press)
I am thrilled about this one. The Community Voices Series project is a virtual history program initiated by the Manitoba Museum and Black History Manitoba, aimed at grades five and six students. Indeed, it fills historical gaps about Canadian Black history that school children learn about the country and province they live in. Alan Small wrote about it this week.
The Railway Porters Union Band of Winnipeg pose in front of the Bank of Montreal. Founded in 1917, the Porters Union was the first black railway union in North America. (L.B. Foote / Province of Manitoba Archives)
On Jan. 30, Spirit of Hope Rescue celebrated its 10-year anniversary! This dog rescue holds a special place in my heart because we adopted our two girls from them— Charlie and Opal. According to a Facebook post, in 10 years of operation, they have rescued 4,000 dogs from mostly northern Indigenous communities. The rescue works in collaboration with community-based animal advocates to save and shelter homeless pups.
Congratulations to Cathie and the entire team for all the incredible work you do. Learn more about the rescue here.
This week's Reader Bridge
Reader Bridge is a project that aims to connect Manitoba's marginalized and historically underserved communities with the Winnipeg Free Press.
This week my colleague, Malak Abas, spoke to Tina Chen, who runs the board of directors and the program committee for the Winnipeg Chinese Cultural and Community Centre about Chinese New Year Celebrations. You can check out this story, and previous Reader Bridge stories here.
Tina Chen of the Winnipeg Chinese Cultural and Community Centre (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press)
Your weekly squee
In honour of Spirit of Hope’s anniversary, I thought I’d share pictures of my two pups, Charlie (the little one) and Opal (the big one).
Don’t let Charlie fool you with her size, she’s got a big personality and an even bigger bark. Opal is just pure love. She is timid and will eat just about everything. We are so lucky to have them.
My dogs Charlie and Opal.
Thank you for being part of my first newsletter. Please feel free to drop me a line, whether it’s just to say ‘Hey’, or to share a feel-good story. I’d love to hear from you.
Stay safe and have a wonderful week.
Shelley Cook, Columnist