Tony Zerucha

Tony Zerucha

East Kildonan community correspondent

Tony Zerucha is a community correspondent for East Kildonan.

Email him at tzerucha@gmail.com

Recent articles of Tony Zerucha

Karma Yoga helps support Main Street Project

Tony Zerucha Special to Canstar 3 minute read Preview

Karma Yoga helps support Main Street Project

Tony Zerucha Special to Canstar 3 minute read Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022

Susan Burko is a Winnipeg woman who raises funds for Main Street Project by teaching yoga classes amid the beautiful backdrop of Kildonan Park.

She has taught the classes for two years near the park’s pavilion. They run on Saturday mornings.

After retiring from teaching 11 years ago, Burko began taking yoga classes at The Wellness Institute. She soon gravitated toward Iyengar yoga, a style that matched her desire for precision and inclusiveness for people with different fitness and mobility levels.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and fitness facilities were closed. Once it was deemed safe to meet outdoors, Burko had an idea.

Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022

Susan Burko is continuing a family tradition of raising funds for Main Street Project with her Karma Yoga classes. Her mother Bernice made blankets (including the one pictured here)for the local support centre before her passing in 2020.

You can take the boy out of Winnipeg…

Tony Zerucha 3 minute read Preview

You can take the boy out of Winnipeg…

Tony Zerucha 3 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 6, 2022

A recent business trip to New York City brought me reminders of Winnipeg, both good and bad.

In late May, I spent five nights in the heart of New York at the Knickerbocker Hotel in Times Square. The location is perfect, as the rooftop terrace is across the street from the ball that drops on New Year’s Eve. As soon as you step onto the road, you are on Broadway, with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child playing a half-block away.

Walk a few more minutes, and you will see theatres hosting the likes of Hugh Jackman, Billy Crystal, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Matthew Broderick in Plaza Suite. Add the giant video screens and tourists from around the world, and the place is electric 24/7.

I sat in the hotel lounge on my first evening in town, enjoying a pint. To my right were a musician and PR agent discussing a tour and speaking of legendary bands (the musician’s back was to me, and I could not place him). Directly in front of me was a group of folks talking about theatre.

Wednesday, Jul. 6, 2022

Seeing photos of disgraced clothier Peter Nygard outside his company’s former offices in New York City was jarring for a visitor from Winnipeg.

Don’t take refugee stories for granted

Tony Zerucha 3 minute read Preview

Don’t take refugee stories for granted

Tony Zerucha 3 minute read Wednesday, May. 25, 2022

As Winnipeg begins to welcome Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion of their country, I urge you to not get tired of their stories, because they are in need of everything and will need our help for some time.

My church is helping two families who have made it over and we are working to bring more over on our own dime. The cost is high, but we will keep helping.

The first family saw their oldest daughter get married a few days before the invasion. Days later, they were awakened by a call from Canada telling them Russia had invaded. They didn’t believe it until a few minutes later, when they heard the planes flying overhead on their way to bomb a nearby military base. The husband rushed to find a working ATM, picked up his wife and two young kids, and they fled to Romania. They worked their way to Winnipeg where within a week he found a job, and they rented an apartment.

The second family had an emergency suitcase ready, along with provisions in case they had to hide in the woods or a bomb shelter with three kids aged two, 11 and 14. They made their way to the Polish border, where the lineup to cress stretched 12 kilometres and only moved four kilometres each day. After a day in line, they had to leave because their youngest had a fever.

Wednesday, May. 25, 2022

Ukrainian refugees speak with staff at the Ukrainian reception centre in Winnipeg. Many people fleeing war in Ukraine will need our help.

Be careful with your information online

Tony Zerucha 3 minute read Preview

Be careful with your information online

Tony Zerucha 3 minute read Wednesday, Apr. 13, 2022

Fraudsters have picked up some new tricks during the pandemic, so it’s best to prepare yourself.

Because we were suddenly confined to our homes back in 2020, people began interacting with call centres en masse, as we could not go down to our banks or stores to deal with issues in-person. Those calls were more frequent and several studies I’ve read show they also lasted longer on average, too. We don’t like waiting and neither do scammers, so they changed their activities to make best use of their time, according to a few experts I have interviewed for some of my freelance work.

Here is a list of the information that scammers seek out, and where find it:

• Phone numbers, names, social insurance numbers and account numbers of millions of people can be bought on the dark web;

Wednesday, Apr. 13, 2022

Your personal information may well be traded or sold on the dark web.

Grandpa’s backyard a family hub

Tony Zerucha 6 minute read Preview

Grandpa’s backyard a family hub

Tony Zerucha 6 minute read Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022

While Arvid Loewen is best known for summer pursuits that benefit African children, he also spends his winters blessing youngsters much closer to home.For many years Loewen has cycled thousands of kilometres each summer, setting several Guinness world records in the process. He and his bicycle have raised more than $8 million for Mully Children’s family, a street rescue mission in Kenya. In one year alone his goal was to raise enough money to provide 600,000 meals to children. Since being introduced to the cause many years ago, Loewen said he was compelled to help. The physical suffering he endured each year was secondary to blessing children whose suffering was far worse.While Loewen has likely engaged in his last super-long cycling event, he is still keeping busy finding ways to help his 11 grandchildren burn off some energy. When winter hits, his grandkids and their friends flock to what he calls the Loewen Winterplex, a recreation centre located in his backyard.“We are fortunate to live in the city, but on a deep lot, 52 feet by  229 feet,” Loewen said. “Since our kids were children, our backyard has been a children’s paradise.”Just like Loewen’s summer bike rides, the Winterplex is no small affair. The rink is 2,600 square feet and there is also an ice luge to enjoy. In the summer he offers zip lining, volleyball courts, soccer and a climbing wall.The fun began when Loewen’s children were small, around a quarter century ago. After a few years’ break as those children started their own families, the backyard is bustling again as those 11 grandkids and their friends flock to the Winterplex. Loewen estimates he gets between 300 and 500 visits every winter.But there’s no free lunch. Each fall there’s a family work day when the rink boards and other materials are brought out. In the spring, the crew comes back to take down the winter gear and set up for warmer weather.There are some incentives, both for setting up and as a break from the fun. Grandma Ruth Loewen is noted for her chocolate chip cookies, and when a crowd is expected a fresh batch goes in the oven.“There is not a single child I know of who doesn’t like chocolate chip cookies,” Loewen said.Loewen said he loves having the children over and the more, the merrier. When they want to have a game, some of his children and their spouses send out an email blast with the date and time. Usually a good crowd shows up, with the kids playing and the parents staying warm by a bonfire. Some times they even have a wiener roast.“We’re giving these kids an alternative to the video games inside and that’s a big deal,” Loewen said. “We’re the grandparents with the cool backyard.”Tony Zerucha is a community correspondent for East Kildonan. Email him at tzerucha@gmail.com

While Arvid Loewen is best known for summer pursuits that benefit African children, he also spends his winters blessing youngsters much closer to home.

For many years Loewen has cycled thousands of kilometres each summer, setting several Guinness world records in the process. He and his bicycle have raised more than $8 million for Mully Children’s family, a street rescue mission in Kenya. In one year alone his goal was to raise enough money to provide 600,000 meals to children. 

Since being introduced to the cause many years ago, Loewen said he was compelled to help. The physical suffering he endured each year was secondary to blessing children whose suffering was far worse.

Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022

Supplied photo
Arvid Loewen's grandchildren and their friends often enjoy hours of pick-up hockey at the 'Loewen Winterplex'.

Hoping that holiday travel plans will hold

Tony Zerucha 5 minute read Preview

Hoping that holiday travel plans will hold

Tony Zerucha 5 minute read Monday, Dec. 20, 2021

If the past two years has taught me anything, it is to be grateful for the little things in life and to not take anything for granted.In pre-pandemic times, there were a lot more givens in my life, from the mundane — such as knowing there would be toilet paper at the store whenever I needed it — to the more important, such as being able to count down the days until my brother and his family from the United States get off the plane at the airport for their annual Christmas visit. They did not come up last year, so we opened gifts over FaceTime. While it was nice to see them, it was sad that we couldn’t be together.While they have their tickets booked to come up this Christmas, their actual arrival is far from guaranteed. First there were worries that because my sister-in-law visited her family in Turkey and returned to the United States less than two weeks before they come here that there could be restrictions on her travel. So far so good, but she hasn’t got on a plane yet and multiple experiences with ticket agents and border guards leave us tense until we learn they have made it past.Then comes making sure they have proof of their vaccinations and confirming that the proof they have will be sufficient at both the airport and customs. It was during this process that my brother learned the person who gave my nephew his first shot never entered the information in the state data base, so he had to go back to the lab and get them to change it.There are also worries about changing government restrictions to contend with. In preparation for their flights back to the United States, my family had to book tests within so many hours of their departure time. As they are leaving Jan. 2, that initially meant needing to get one New Year’s Eve but then the United States said they need proof of a negative test within 24 hours so they had to find a place open on New Year’s Day, which they did.So, as arrival day approaches, we are cautiously hopeful our family will all be together soon. It’s been two years, and since the last time several relatives have died, the health of others has declined and everyone is two years older. Milestones and even births have been missed. We hope it all comes together because the last two years have reinforced that more time together is not guaranteed.Tony Zerucha is a community correspondent for East Kildonan. Email him at tzerucha@gmail.com

If the past two years has taught me anything, it is to be grateful for the little things in life and to not take anything for granted.

In pre-pandemic times, there were a lot more givens in my life, from the mundane — such as knowing there would be toilet paper at the store whenever I needed it — to the more important, such as being able to count down the days until my brother and his family from the United States get off the plane at the airport for their annual Christmas visit. They did not come up last year, so we opened gifts over FaceTime. While it was nice to see them, it was sad that we couldn’t be together.

While they have their tickets booked to come up this Christmas, their actual arrival is far from guaranteed. First there were worries that because my sister-in-law visited her family in Turkey and returned to the United States less than two weeks before they come here that there could be restrictions on her travel. So far so good, but she hasn’t got on a plane yet and multiple experiences with ticket agents and border guards leave us tense until we learn they have made it past.

Monday, Dec. 20, 2021

Dreamstime.com
With his brother’s family scheduled to visit at Christmas, correspondent Tony Zerucha hopes they will still be able to get into Canada.

Help others help themselves with Kiva

Tony Zerucha 6 minute read Preview

Help others help themselves with Kiva

Tony Zerucha 6 minute read Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021

I have been writing about financial technology for the past decade and I have been fortunate to meet dozens of people who have devoted their lives to using technology to improve the lives of the world’s poorest people. These brilliant minds fuse their experience with some combination of mobile technology, the internet, satellites, artificial intelligence, and computer algorithms to devise ways of helping people become self-sufficient.In the world’s poorest or most remote areas that can be quite a chore. So many things we take for granted in North America — such as clean water, telecommunications, safe roads, banking, and even our health — are luxuries in parts of Africa, Asia, South America and yes, even close to home. Yet these folks labour on, and in many cases are making a clear difference in many lives.One such organization that has been helping people help themselves for more than 10 years is Kiva (kiva.org), a not-for-profit based in San Francisco. I met one of Kiva’s executives once and have remained in touch.Kiva crowdfunds loans for people’s most basic needs. For as little as $25, you can support dozens of worthy causes that benefit people with whom you can empathize on some level.You can help a family send their children to school, start a business or get access to clean water or heat. Filters allow you to help people in specific parts of the world, or those looking needing specific types of assistance such as single parents or businesspeople. Every cent loaned goes to the causes.Astute readers will notice the use of words such as “loan” and “borrow”. When you support someone on Kiva, they will pay you back. It helps create self-sufficiency and makes your dollars go farther. Kiva has attracted 4.1 million borrowers and 1.9 million lenders who have provided $1.66 billion in loans at a 96.3 per cent repayment rate.“We believe lending alongside thousands of others is one of the most powerful and sustainable ways to create economic and social good,” Kiva’s website states. Working with partners like schools and micro-finance institutions on the ground in these countries, Kiva sources applicants, underwrites them and posts them for supporters to fund. Many campaigns are backed by people and companies who will match support dollar for dollar or even multiple dollars per dollar lent. The money goes far.In Rwanda, Eliel seeks $1,000 for fabrics and two machines for his tailoring shop, while in Panama Edgar Arquel requires $2,100 for construction materials, chickens and planting supplies. Over in Indonesia, Rumyati’s children need a smart phone to continue their studies because their school was shut down during the pandemic. Hop over to Tajikistan and Zakir needs help with school supplies.There’s a quote that has been attributed to many from the Navajo Nation to Lao-Tzu but it is so true: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”  Tony Zerucha is a community correspondent for East Kildonan. Email him at tzerucha@gmail.com

I have been writing about financial technology for the past decade and I have been fortunate to meet dozens of people who have devoted their lives to using technology to improve the lives of the world’s poorest people. 

These brilliant minds fuse their experience with some combination of mobile technology, the internet, satellites, artificial intelligence, and computer algorithms to devise ways of helping people become self-sufficient.

In the world’s poorest or most remote areas that can be quite a chore. So many things we take for granted in North America — such as clean water, telecommunications, safe roads, banking, and even our health — are luxuries in parts of Africa, Asia, South America and yes, even close to home. Yet these folks labour on, and in many cases are making a clear difference in many lives.

Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021

Supplied photo
Kenyan corn farmer Hamida Yusra has used microfinance loans from Kiva to help fund his business.

Paunovic stars in first NFT movie

Tony Zerucha 6 minute read Preview

Paunovic stars in first NFT movie

Tony Zerucha 6 minute read Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021

Winnipegger Aleks Paunovic has enjoyed a great film career and once again he finds himself in a special place.Over more than quarter-century in acting, Paunovic has been in movies and shows with Eddie Murphy, Owen Wilson, Kathy Bates and Michelle Pfeiffer and played key roles in Battlestar Galactica, Planet of the Apes, Snowpiercer and Van Helsing. He has appeared in a number of Canadian TV shows, and keeps a busy schedule.Paunovic recently filmed a movie with the legendary Anthony Hopkins called Zero Contact. It tells the story of a recently deceased billionaire played by Hopkins who unites five people from around the world to defeat his greatest invention, which he fears could destroy mankind. That would be special enough on its own but the story gets even better.Zero Contact will be the first movie to premiere as a ‘non-fungible token’.  NFTs provide digital ownership of physical products and are similar to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. A relatively new concept, NFTs have been used to create digital sports cards and art and are being developed to represent fractional ownership of everything from real estate to sports cars.Canadian Cameron Chell owns CurrencyWorks, the company developing the Zero Contact NFT along with Vuele, a distribution platform for direct-to-consumer, full-length feature film NFTs. Owing to its uniqueness and Hopkins’ involvement, Zero Contact is creating plenty of excitement, and for good reason.Chell believes it will radically alter how entertainment companies and celebrities interact with fans. Zero Contact, for example, will be released in a series of NFTs, including a single NFT containing two different editions of the movie, beginning with the only copy of an earlier version shot with a different actor playing Hopkins’ role. There will be other added goodies too, such as outtakes and a role for the buyer of that single NFT in Zero Contact (the part can be shot and digitally inserted into the copy). Another version with several benefits is limited to 10 NFTs, making them scarce.This is just the beginning, Chell told me. He sees Vuele becoming a marketplace where movie buffs gather to share their love of movies and trade collectibles such as NFTs. Many celebrities, such as Tom Brady, Eminem and Snoop Dogg have created their own NFTs. Done properly, they offer fans the chance to collect unique memorabilia of stars they follow, such as photographs and unique videos, all of them in limited quantities. Basketball player Spencer Dinwiddie has his own company, Calaxy, that helps other celebrities create their own NFTs.NFTs are the future of how movies will be premiered, Chell predicts. Before the red carpet gala or opening weekend, there will be an NFT release. If you want to see it first, you have to get the NFT. Imagine owning the first copy of your favourite classic movie and being able to prove with a digital record that it is indeed the first That is what NFTs can do.  Tony Zerucha is a community correspondent for East Kildonan. Email him at tzerucha@gmail.com

Winnipegger Aleks Paunovic has enjoyed a great film career and once again he finds himself in a special place.

Over more than quarter-century in acting, Paunovic has been in movies and shows with Eddie Murphy, Owen Wilson, Kathy Bates and Michelle Pfeiffer and played key roles in Battlestar Galactica, Planet of the Apes, Snowpiercer and Van Helsing. He has appeared in a number of Canadian TV shows, and keeps a busy schedule.

Paunovic recently filmed a movie with the legendary Anthony Hopkins called Zero Contact. It tells the story of a recently deceased billionaire played by Hopkins who unites five people from around the world to defeat his greatest invention, which he fears could destroy mankind. That would be special enough on its own but the story gets even better.

Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021

Supplied photo
Winnipegger Aleks Paunovic has a role in Zero Contact, a movie that will be the first to be released as an NFT.

Actor Aleks Paunovic

New linebacker comes into his own for Rifles

Tony Zerucha 3 minute read Preview

New linebacker comes into his own for Rifles

Tony Zerucha 3 minute read Monday, Sep. 27, 2021

He lost a pivotal year of development and switched positions at training camp, but the Winnipeg Rifles’ newest linebacker is adjusting quite well.

Through the Rifles’ first three games, Brandon Kamenz was second in the Prairie Football Conference with 49 defensive points. His 17 tackles were also second-best in the six-team league. In Rifles’ first win of the season on Sept. 12, a 20-18 squeaker against the Edmonton Wildcats, Kamenz played a key role, forcing a fumble and taking an interception 65 yards to the house for a touchdown.

“The tight end motioned across the line and I bumped down to pick him up,” Kamenz said of his pick-six. “I jumped in front and made the interception.”

“It was a game-changing play,” Rifles head coach Geordie Wilson said. “Brandon read that play and took it in from 65 yards. That took the score from 6-0 to 13-0. It made a big difference.”

Monday, Sep. 27, 2021

Supplied photo by Matt Hamilton
Winnipeg Rifles linebacker Brandon Kamenz has made big strides since switching positions from defensive back.

School sports help kids develop as people

Tony Zerucha 3 minute read Preview

School sports help kids develop as people

Tony Zerucha 3 minute read Friday, Sep. 24, 2021

While the Louis Riel School Division’s new sport convenor’s first priority is getting some school activities up and running after the shutdown, she has much bigger plans for down the road.

“I’m excited to be here. Everyone’s been awesome,” Jordana Milne began.

That said, she begins her role as schools are hopefully coming out of the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. That means getting existing programs and sports activities up and running again after a year or more of inactivity. She is developing ways to encourage participation.

“We learned some valuable lessons during the pandemic, “Milne said. “Teachers showed their resilience by developing alternative teaching methods that incorporated more outdoor instruction, for example.”

Friday, Sep. 24, 2021

Supplied photo
Jordana Milne, new sports convenor for the Louis Riel School Division, said the division’s inter-school sports activities will follow all public health guidelines.

Get ready to rip old documents at Shred Fest

Tony Zerucha 3 minute read Preview

Get ready to rip old documents at Shred Fest

Tony Zerucha 3 minute read Wednesday, Sep. 22, 2021

Many of us have used some of the extra time we’ve had over the past couple of years to do some home cleaning but are now left wondering what to do with those stacks of old documents we no longer need.

Don’t worry, because Patrick LeBlanc and the St. Boniface St. Vital Rotary Club have you covered with the Rotary/Teen Stop Jeunesse Shred Fest. Taking place Sat., Sept. 25 in the parking lot at St. Vital Centre between the transit loop and CIBC on Meadowood Drive, the event gives everyone an opportunity to safely and securely dispose of personal and business documents in an environmentally friendly way.

The suggested donation is $10 per banker’s box and they request you remove Shannon Files and bull clips which can damage machinery. The hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

LeBlanc, who has served with the Rotary Club for 20 years, is also the executive director of Teen Stop Jeunesse. He said the Rotary Club has always been there for the charity which operates programs and a drop-in centre for people ages eight to 18.

Wednesday, Sep. 22, 2021

Photo by Tony Zerucha
The St. Boniface St. Vital Rotary Club is holding a document/record shredding event on Sept. 25 at St. Vital Centre, said spokesman Patrick LeBlanc (above).

Artist’s new show celebrates celebrations

Tony Zerucha - Special to Canstar 3 minute read Preview

Artist’s new show celebrates celebrations

Tony Zerucha - Special to Canstar 3 minute read Wednesday, Sep. 15, 2021

Connie Wawruck-Hemmett produces works in a variety of media and her output is influenced by an eclectic range of experiences and subjects.

They come together in Carnivalia: Art by Connie Wawruck-Hemmett, her latest exhibit at the Wayne Arthur Gallery, located at 186 Provencher Blvd. The exhibit runs Tuesdays through Saturdays between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. through Sept. 29.

“My first memory from when I was kid was my mom saying ‘there’s not a single piece of paper in this house that Connie hasn’t drawn on’,” Wawruck-Hemmett said with a chuckle.

Money was often scarce in her early years, so Wawruck-Hemmett worked with whatever supplies were handy. That was good preparation for an artistic career that has seen her create with pretty much every medium save for oil-based paints, she said. In high school her teacher was renowned artist Ted Korol, whom Wawruck-Hemmett described as an amazing teacher.

Wednesday, Sep. 15, 2021

Tony Zerucha
Artist Connie Wawruck-Hemmett works with a variety of media and styles and manyof her works are on display at Carnivalia: Art by Connie Wawruck-Hemmett, an exhibit of her works running through Sept. 29 at the Wayne Arthur Gallery.

Outdoor classroom at Phoenix School open this fall

Tony Zerucha - Special to Canstar 2 minute read Preview

Outdoor classroom at Phoenix School open this fall

Tony Zerucha - Special to Canstar 2 minute read Wednesday, Sep. 15, 2021

It’s taken a few years and plenty of work to get to this point, but students and staff at Phoenix School will finally be able to enjoy their outdoor classroom this fall.

The story dates back to 2018, when staff members discussed the idea with the Phoenix Parent Council. That led to the formation of a committee of parents, teachers and a representative from Headingley’s Bright Beginnings Educare, which used space in Phoenix School. The kids at the K to Grade 5 school were also involved with the planning, as staff talked with them about what they would like to see in the space. That feedback was included in a wish list that was included in packages provided to landscape architects.

In September 2019, the committee received a $5,000 grant from Community Futures White Horse Plains

that was used to produce architectural drawings of the space. That helped families and staff see what they were working towards and made it easier to complete other grant applications.

Wednesday, Sep. 15, 2021

It’s taken a few years and plenty of work to get to this point, but students and staff at Phoenix School will finally be able to enjoy their outdoor classroom this fall.

The story dates back to 2018, when staff members discussed the idea with the Phoenix Parent Council. That led to the formation of a committee of parents, teachers and a representative from Headingley’s Bright Beginnings Educare, which used space in Phoenix School. The kids at the K to Grade 5 school were also involved with the planning, as staff talked with them about what they would like to see in the space. That feedback was included in a wish list that was included in packages provided to landscape architects.

In September 2019, the committee received a $5,000 grant from Community Futures White Horse Plains

that was used to produce architectural drawings of the space. That helped families and staff see what they were working towards and made it easier to complete other grant applications.

Oak Bluff student lands Danzker scholarship

Tony Zerucha - Special to Canstar 2 minute read Preview

Oak Bluff student lands Danzker scholarship

Tony Zerucha - Special to Canstar 2 minute read Wednesday, Sep. 15, 2021

The second time proved to be the charm for Oak Bluff’s Adriana Pasieczka.

The second-year student at the University of Manitoba’s School of Art was recently awarded the 2021 Mark & Dorothy Danzker Scholarship for Excellence. Pasieczka said the $1,000 scholarship will go a long way to helping her with her studies this year.

She applied for the scholarship through Folklorama, which presents it together with the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba. It honours the memory of former Winnipeg city councillor Mark Danzker, and his wife Dorothy. The Danzker family immigrated to Canada in 1907 before settling in Winnipeg in 1911. Danzker entered the workforce at the age of 10, bought a pharmacy at 16 and owned several successful companies. He served two terms on city council from 1960 to 1968, and helped bring the Pan Am Games to Winnipeg in 1967.

Pasieczka is deeply connected to her Ukrainian roots. She spent 13 years with the Vesna Dance Group, and has volunteered at the Holy Family Nursing Home, when she learned about Ukrainian history and traditions. For several years, Pasieczka also attended Ridna Schola, or Ukrainian School.Her large family also helps keep those traditions alive, Pasieczka said. They are active at the Holy Family Ukrainian Catholic Church, where she has read liturgies. They also celebrate Ukrainian Easter and Christmas, carefully observing traditions such as pysanky, the art of dyeing Easter eggs, and the 12 meatless dishes on Christmas Eve.

Wednesday, Sep. 15, 2021

Supplied photo
Oak Bluff resident Adriana Pasieczka was recently awarded Folklorama's 2021 Mark and Dorothy Danzker Scholarship for Excellence.

Portage la Prairie excited for new hospital

Tony Zerucha 3 minute read Preview

Portage la Prairie excited for new hospital

Tony Zerucha 3 minute read Wednesday, Sep. 15, 2021

A new hospital in Portage la Prairie, which should be completed by 2025, will reduce the number of medical trips local residents need to take outside the region, officials said when making the announcement at the end of last month.The new hospital will offer more inpatient beds, expanded medicine and surgical capacity, and an improved emergency department. The $283-million, two-storey hospital will be at least double the size of the existing Portage General Hospital and is expected to include a minimum of 90 acute care inpatient beds; increased day surgery capacity; an expanded emergency department designed to best practice standards that include treatment and assessment rooms, a trauma room, stretcher bay and an ambulance bay; and enhanced space for a number of programs including diagnostics, dialysis, palliative care and various outpatient services which include lab and rehabilitation.“The new Portage District General Hospital will be bigger and better, providing the community and the region with a modern facility and access to many services that previously may have required multiple trips to Winnipeg or Brandon,” said  Dale Lyle, chairman of the Portage Hospital Foundation.“(This) announcement will support the delivery of health-care services closer to home for patients in a rapidly growing area of our province.”“In addition to expanding clinical opportunities, this new modern facility will further enhance patient care, confidentiality and comfort for people in this region, and provide a better working environment,”added Jane Curtis, CEO of Southern Health–Santé Sud.A Shared Health spokesperson said the current Portage District General Hospital is 65 years old and has seen several additions and renovations. During that time both building design guidelines and clinical best practice standards have improved significantly. “While planning is still ongoing for the hospital, the emergency department will be built to reflect those standards, which include a larger space, more treatment rooms and better sightlines between staff and patients - all of which serve to improve patient flow,” the spokesperson said. “The new emergency department will also provide enhanced patient privacy and take best practice measures recommended by infection prevention and control experts into account.” The spokesperson said planning is still ongoing between provincial officials and clinical and system leaders and will be based on current and projected needs. Those plans will also be informed by Manitoba’s Clinical and Preventive Services Plan.“The plan uses resources in more innovative and modernized ways, using a network of hubs that are staffed and equipped to meet the needs of Manitoba patients,” the spokesperson said. |

Wednesday, Sep. 15, 2021

Canstar file photo
A new, $283-million, two-storey hospital is set to replace the 65-year-old Portage District Hospital.

Recipe for success

Tony Zerucha 6 minute read Preview

Recipe for success

Tony Zerucha 6 minute read Friday, Aug. 27, 2021

Amanda Cyncora loves her customers, and thankfully they are beginning to return after a tough couple of years.Cyncora, along with her father Brad, owns Spike’s Grill, which is located in the basement of the Silver Spike at 202 Bond St. It’s a family restaurant, right down to the recipes for hamburgers and perogies that have been passed down through the generations.The Cyncoras are restaurant veterans. Brad has been at it for more than four decades while Amanda has fond memories of helping out as a child by washing dishes and buttering toast.“As soon as I could I was cooking,” she said.Cyncora loves Transcona so much she bought a house nearby. She likes being in the community and visiting with her customers when they cross paths.“That’s what brings me in every day, the lovely people I get to deal with,” Cyncora said.Over the past 18 months Cyncora hasn’t seen nearly enough of many of those folks as she would like. As the pandemic loomed, people stayed home. Then came the shutdowns, false starts, re-openings and more shutdowns. It took an emotional toll.Before COVID-19, business was great, Cyncora said. Through word of mouth it got to the point where people lined up to get in. Then suddenly she was struggling. It was tough on the bank account and tough on Cyncora, who loves to keep busy and surround herself with the people she cares so much about.The ever-changing rules are tough for small, family-owned restaurants like Spike’s Grill, Cyncora said. At the lowest point she had to lay off staff and throw away supplies.“You can only freeze so much. A lot of that stuff you cannot freeze,” Cyncora said.As restrictions changed on short notice it was tough to prepare, she added. Food items have to be ordered and that can create delays at her suppliers. Then she goes out and sees other restaurants not following the rules it has cost her so dearly to comply with. Cyncora wishes there was more uniformity.“It’s hard to be a rule follower and also a business owner,” Cyncora said. “I have rent to pay and bills to pay, that hasn’t changed. This is my livelihood. How am I supposed to keep this up if I cannot even bring customers in?”Thankfully business is picking up and is almost where it was before anyone ever heard of COVID-19. For that, Cyncora is very thankful.Still, she misses the way things used to be, when people weren’t afraid to visit with each other. It’s what makes restaurants like Spike’s Grill what they are — places where folks are greeted warmly and treated great.“People love that,” Cyncora said. “I know most of my customers’ names, I remember their specials. I see them walk in the door and I put their hash browns on or get their burger ready.“I miss my people and it’s been hard,” she said with a pause. “They say we’re all together but those first few months I felt like no one was there.”Cyncora has one final message for everyone: it’s time to help each other.“Don’t be afraid to support your favourite restaurants, don’t be afraid to go out. It’s still a community and we should all support each other.”

Amanda Cyncora loves her customers, and thankfully they are beginning to return after a tough couple of years.

Cyncora, along with her father Brad, owns Spike’s Grill, which is located in the basement of the Silver Spike at 202 Bond St. It’s a family restaurant, right down to the recipes for hamburgers and perogies that have been passed down through the generations.

The Cyncoras are restaurant veterans. Brad has been at it for more than four decades while Amanda has fond memories of helping out as a child by washing dishes and buttering toast.

Friday, Aug. 27, 2021

Tony Zerucha
Spike’s Grill owner Amanda Cyncora shows off one of her signature hamburgers made from a generations-old family recipe.

A guardian falls

Tony Zerucha 4 minute read Preview

A guardian falls

Tony Zerucha 4 minute read Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021

While a beloved spirit tree in Bois-des-Ésprits may have fallen, it will never be forgotten.

Woody-Mhitik, the three-metre-tall spirit tree that watched over the forest for the past 15 years, succumbed to the elements earlier this month. The wood began showing signs of decay in 2020 and slowly its condition deteriorated.

The story begins in 2004 with one of Save Our Seine’s first campaigns, executive director Michele Kading said. The group wanted to protect the forest, which was slated for clearing in order to build the Royalwood community.

SOS connected with Robert Leclair and Walter Mirosh, two members of Les Gens de Bois Woodcarving Club, initially with the idea of having them contribute a few pieces for a raffle. The group was celebrating its 25th anniversary and wanted to do something special.

Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021

Photo by Tony Nardella
Woody-Mhitk finally toppled over after 15 years standing guard over Bois-des-Esprits.

“Be kind, rewind…”

Tony Zerucha 7 minute read Preview

“Be kind, rewind…”

Tony Zerucha 7 minute read Monday, Aug. 16, 2021

Kids these days will never know the feeling of going up and down the aisles at the corner video store desperately looking for a VHS movie to watch on a Friday night but Kevin Doherty and Bill Hrenchuk sure do and they’ve chronicled that experience and more in a new book that will resonate with those who grew up in the video era.The Good Ole Days of Video Rental  describes life at the onset of the video age, which began in the early 1980s. The duo spent three years interviewing customers, clerks, managers and owners about their memories and amusing experiences from those times.The trip began when Hrenchuk created a Facebook group for former employees of Bill’s Video, one of the popular chains of the day. The stories flooded in and brought back the memories.“I said to Bill that maybe we should put this in a book, there might be something here,” Doherty said.The advent of home video was revolutionary. Up to then, you had to see the movie in the theatre, and if you were lucky and remembered the time, years later on television.“When movies came out on videotape, you could have it in your house to yourself to watch - for free, without commercials,” Doherty said. “You could pause it, you could control it. It was like a god complex. The whole mind-blowing experience of being able to watch it whenever you wanted, however you wanted, for just a few bucks…”Doherty, now 52, still remembers the day his father brought home the family’s first VHS player, along with copies of Jaws 2 and Popeye. It was a huge machine his dad had bought downtown for $1,800.“We’d heard about them but we didn’t think we’d see them in our lifetime,” Doherty said of the machines. “When my dad said Jaws 2 was on there (pointing to a tape) it was hard to understand. And when he hit play I was blown away, my life was turned upside down.”Along the way Hrenchuk, 50, and Doherty learned all sorts of information about Winnipeg’s role in the Canadian video industry.Canada’s first video retnal store was opened here by Gilles Verrier in 1979, at a time when only 20 movies were available on video anywhere in the world. It was such a novelty that the Yellow Pages didn’t even have a category for it. That changed soon enough. Soon rental shops were on every street corner, in many major retailers. Even corner stores and 7-Elevens offered video rentals“We didn’t know the video store was going to vanish,” Doherty said. “We thought it was going to be there forever.”Doherty remembers writing a two-page letter as a teen to get his dream job at Star Time Foto Video and thinking he had hit the jackpot and never wanted to leave. Now he is an independent filmmaker, still pursuing his passion for the industry.While we have so many more entertainment options than we did in the 1980s, there’s something missing.“Netflix is great, it’s efficient and it’s cheap but you only get to watch what they’re offering,” Doherty said. “But when you were at a video store looking for a certain title and you didn’t see it, you weren’t leaving empty handed. You would grab whatever caught your eye. A lot of people saw a lot of movies they would never have otherwise.”The Good Ole Days of Video Rental is available on Amazon and at Coles in Kildonan Place. Doherty and Hrenchuk hope to have copies available in other Winnipeg stores over the coming weeks.

Kids these days will never know the feeling of going up and down the aisles at the corner video store desperately looking for a VHS movie to watch on a Friday night but Kevin Doherty and Bill Hrenchuk sure do and they’ve chronicled that experience and more in a new book that will resonate with those who grew up in the video era.

The Good Ole Days of Video Rental describes life at the onset of the video age, which began in the early 1980s. The duo spent three years interviewing customers, clerks, managers and owners about their memories and amusing experiences from those times.

The trip began when Hrenchuk created a Facebook group for former employees of Bill’s Video, one of the popular chains of the day. The stories flooded in and brought back the memories.

Monday, Aug. 16, 2021

The Good Ole Days of Video Rental, by local authors Kevin Doherty and Bill Hrenchuk, recalls the early days of video stores in Winnipeg.

Johnson wins trifecta at Rossmere

Tony Zerucha 4 minute read Preview

Johnson wins trifecta at Rossmere

Tony Zerucha 4 minute read Monday, Aug. 16, 2021

The August long weekend was one to remember for Carter Johnson at the Rossmere Country Club.Johnson, just 18 years old, captured a rare triple-header at the Rossmere Country Club’s club championships, taking the junior title, the Rossmere Horse Race and the overall club championship. The week began with Johnson beating 23 other competitors for the junior championship.  On Aug. 1, he won the Rossmere Horse Race, a competition in which one golfer is eliminated per hole, leaving two vying for first place at the final tee. For that title, Johnson edged veteran Rob Oliphant.Then, on Aug. 2 ,Johnson capped his week by shooting a 69 to give him a three-day score of 210, good for a four-stroke victory over Cam McIntyre for the overall club championship . He showed great consistency, adding rounds of 68 and 73 earlier in the weekend. Aaron McIntyre, who made short work of the course with a first-round 64, finished in third with a 219 total, one shot better than Oliphant.“It feels good to get a win and the week overall was a really good one,” Johnson said. “I had lots of fun while playing some really good golf and taking home the trifecta.”Oliphant captured Rossmere’s senior championship with a two-day score of 143. He is headed to La Malbaie, Que., from Sept. 21 to 24 to play in the Canadian senior men’s championship at the Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu.Johnson’s stock is rising. In 2018 he finished fourth in the Manitoba Spring Classic before putting up three Top 10 finishes in 2019, highlighted by a sixth-place finish at the Manitoba juniors championship at Pine Ridge Golf Club.Over the weekend, 150 golfers participated in Rossmere’s club championship sat a course where the staff ensured they had a great time, general manager Scott Parker said. Course superintendent Greg Mitchell, Al Moar and their teams had to deal with a lack of precipitation but had the course in great shape.

The August long weekend was one to remember for Carter Johnson at the Rossmere Country Club.

Johnson, just 18 years old, captured a rare triple-header at the Rossmere Country Club’s club championships, taking the junior title, the Rossmere Horse Race and the overall club championship. 

The week began with Johnson beating 23 other competitors for the junior championship.  On Aug. 1, he won the Rossmere Horse Race, a competition in which one golfer is eliminated per hole, leaving two vying for first place at the final tee. For that title, Johnson edged veteran Rob Oliphant.

Monday, Aug. 16, 2021

Supplied photo
Carter Johnson won the overall club championship at Rossmere Country Club, along with the junior title and also prevailed in the club’s horse race competition.

Oliphant heads for national senior tourney

Tony Zerucha 5 minute read Preview

Oliphant heads for national senior tourney

Tony Zerucha 5 minute read Monday, Aug. 16, 2021

Rob Oliphant is preparing to test his skills against Canada’s best.The longtime Rossmere Country Club golfer qualified for the Canadian senior men’s Golf Championship following a third-place finish at the Golf Manitoba men’s senior tournament, held at the Steinbach Fly-In Club from Aug. 4 to 6.The showing means Oliphant will play at the Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu in La Malbaie, Que. from Sept. 21 to 24.Oliphant’s spot on the provincial team was far from assured, as he put up scores of 75 and 76 over the first two rounds to find himself in a large group of contenders. Thankfully, he made up ground on the final day with a two-under-par 70, tied for the best round of the tournament.“I actually hit it better the first two days, but I putted really well the last day,” Oliphant admitted.As his career has progressed, Oliphant, now 56, said he’s had to pay more attention to his putting and short game, which sometimes elude him. But he shone when it counted, especially on the 15th hole during the final round when he found himself in a close competition with 2020 champion Bruce North. Oliphant hit the water but managed to save par. While that was the highlight Oliphant said he also made several birdie and par-saving putts that day.Oliphant has called Rossmere home for more than 40 years and the course has been good to him. He’s won at least one club title in every decade of his life beginning in his teens and running through his 50s. Oliphant took to the game quickly after playing his first round at age nine. Along the way he earned a few more Rossmere trophies, made two Manitoba mid-amateur teams and placed fifth at the Canadian junior championships.This latest accolade almost didn’t happen. Earlier in the summer Oliphant broke a toe, which threw off his conditioning. A few days before Rossmere’s club championships, Oliphant told club manager Scott Parker he wasn’t going to enter, but Parker made him promise to sign up if he could break par on that day’s round. Oliphant went out and shot a 67.“Then I had to keep my word,” he said with a smile.Going into the provincial tournament, Oliphant said he believed he could compete with the top entrants and he could vie for the title if things fell his way. While he fell short ot top spot, he is happy with the results and looking forward to playing for a Canadian title on a great course.“It’s a beautiful golf course and it’s pretty exciting to be able to play on it,” Oliphant said.

Rob Oliphant is preparing to test his skills against Canada’s best.

The longtime Rossmere Country Club golfer qualified for the Canadian senior men’s Golf Championship following a third-place finish at the Golf Manitoba men’s senior tournament, held at the Steinbach Fly-In Club from Aug. 4 to 6.

The showing means Oliphant will play at the Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu in La Malbaie, Que. from Sept. 21 to 24.

Monday, Aug. 16, 2021

Supplied photo
Rob Oliphant, senior men’s champion at Rossmere Country Club, finished third in the provincial senior championship and will play for Manitoba at the national senior championship at La Malbaie, Que., north of Quebec City, in September.

New rec co-ordinator sees great opportunities

Tony Zerucha 5 minute read Preview

New rec co-ordinator sees great opportunities

Tony Zerucha 5 minute read Monday, Aug. 16, 2021

The RM of East St. Paul’s new recreation services co-ordinator looks forward to sharing her love of the outdoors and keeping everyone busy doing activities they enjoy.Nicole McDonald started  in her new role this spring, coming over from the the Macdonald-Headingly Recreation District, where she provided programming to two municipalities and several towns within them. She admitted that it was a challenge but said it taught her how do deal with many different groups of people at the same time. Now that she is serving one community exclusively, McDonald said she has all kinds of ideas on how to keep folks active. One is to take advantage of East St. Paul’s 13 parks, which is right up her alley. McDonald said she loves to relax in the outdoors. She previously worked at Camp Manitou in nature-based outdoor recreation and brings that experience with her.Many of those outdoor programs saw McDonald working with kids, which is something she enjoys. She said she has developed after-school programs that she hopes families in her new community will love. She adds that the experience she gained running programs at  Camp Manitou will benefit more than just the kids.“It’s really fun to be able to come in and take my knowledge of children-based programs and work it into adult programs, too,” she said.Of course, outdoor programs are now more important than ever given how shut off many of us are and have been from the outside world and each other.McDonald said using recreation as a means of social connection and communing with nature are important restorative measures.“I think there is so much need for outdoor programs and I think we forget what the benefits are of that,” McDonald said.McDonald said she’s enjoyed meeting members of the community and said that making new friends and creating new ties is crucial in providing everyone with activities they will enjoy. As she gets to know people in the community, she can identify gaps in service and she can help them build on their strengths. “It’s a fantastic community, people are coming in to reach out and help provide programs,” she said.McDonald has a survey planned that will ask people what they want to see. But she’s not waiting for the results, as she said she hopes to have 30 different programs launch this summer. Do you have an idea for a program you want to see or do you have a skill you want to share with others?“Reach out contact me,” McDonald said. “My door is always open to everyone.”

The RM of East St. Paul’s new recreation services co-ordinator looks forward to sharing her love of the outdoors and keeping everyone busy doing activities they enjoy.

Nicole McDonald started  in her new role this spring, coming over from the the Macdonald-Headingly Recreation District, where she provided programming to two municipalities and several towns within them. She admitted that it was a challenge but said it taught her how do deal with many different groups of people at the same time. 

Now that she is serving one community exclusively, McDonald said she has all kinds of ideas on how to keep folks active. One is to take advantage of East St. Paul’s 13 parks, which is right up her alley. McDonald said she loves to relax in the outdoors. She previously worked at Camp Manitou in nature-based outdoor recreation and brings that experience with her.

Monday, Aug. 16, 2021

Supplied photo
Nicole McDonald is looking forward to launching and creating new recreation programs for the entire community of East St. Paul.

Riverview T-shirts a hit in the neighbourhood

Tony Zerucha 2 minute read Preview

Riverview T-shirts a hit in the neighbourhood

Tony Zerucha 2 minute read Friday, Aug. 13, 2021

Riverview Community Centre’s latest fundraising effort was a hit and similar events could be held in the near future.

Last month, the centre sold T-shirts featuring a map of the neighbourhood. Designed by resident Kerry Feeney, it was initially meant for a small group of people, highlighting buildings of interest such as École Riverview School, Churchill High School, Grace Bible Church and the community centre itself.

“It highlighted what was important to her family and the families in the group she made the shirts for,” said Tessa Allen, Riverview CC communications co-ordinator and summer camp supervisor.

But Feeney’s design ended up serving a larger purpose. Around the same time, club president Jason Oliver was considering having custom T-shirts made, so Feeney offered his design to the club as a fundraiser. They placed it on black or blue shirts along with the phrase “the hood where we play, the hood where we stay.”

Friday, Aug. 13, 2021

Supplied photo
Victoria and William Oliver are pictured here wearing early versions of the Riverview T-shirts that were printed before the fundraising sale.

Fibre optic internet moving closer to reality

Tony Zerucha - Special to Canstar 2 minute read Preview

Fibre optic internet moving closer to reality

Tony Zerucha - Special to Canstar 2 minute read Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021

Work continues on bringing high-speed, fibre optic internet to the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region and there’s been plenty of progress, RM of Macdonald Reeve Brad Erb said.

The work is being done through a partnership between Manitoba internet service provider RFNOW and JohnQ Public, the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region’s economic development arm, and both parties will own 50 per cent of the service.

Service provision will occur in a phased rollout over the next two years with the first phase including the communities of the RM of Portage la Prairie, Headingley, Macdonald, Ritchot, Stonewall and Rockwood.

These  areas were chosen  through a business analysis that identified them as the best starting points to ensure the project’s sustainability and profitability.

Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021

Supplied photo
Fibre optic projects are in the works for much of the Winnipeg metropolitan region, including Headingly, Macdonald, Portage la Prairie and St. Francois Xavier.

Fort la Reine fundraising gets a boost

Tony Zerucha - Special to Canstar 2 minute read Preview

Fort la Reine fundraising gets a boost

Tony Zerucha - Special to Canstar 2 minute read Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021

Fort la Reine Museum’s plansto restore its bastion towers got a big boost recently when the Portage la Prairie institution learned it will receive a $50,000 grant from Manitoba’s Building Sustainable Communities program.

Madison Connolly, executive director of Fort la Reine, said the $50,000 is more than one-third of the project’s total cost and that the museum and its supporters have now reached 82 per cent of its fundraising goal, thanks to Building Sustainable Communities, the Thomas Sill Foundation, other donors and the many area businesses that have supported the project so far. She added that  large donations help generate momentum with potential donors, who see the project’s chances of being funded increase.

“Getting that sum is incredible,” Connolly admitted. “That allows us to meet our timeline of starting next spring.”

Once complete the interior spaces of the  forts corner towers will exhibit the histories of local Indigenous people along with world views.

Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021

Supplied photo
The corner bastions at the Fort la Reine will be fully restored upon completion of the museum’s fundraising project for the campaign, which is now over 80 per cent. Organizers plan to restore the fort's bastions and create Indigenous history exhibits.