Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 2/1/2017 (1046 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
With 2017 upon us, it’s time to take a look back on 2016. Here are some of the top stories we covered in The Metro over the past 12 months.
January: Refugee family arrives to Crestview from Beirut
The Issa family (mother Slvana, father Hani and children Maryam, Maldeni and Melana) arrived in Winnipeg as refugees from Beirut, Lebanon on Nov. 30, 2015. Although Slvana worked making sweets and Hani did manual labour, after their arrival the pair was starting from scratch with English lessons.
The family had been successful in getting a blended visa, which meant they were supported evenly by the Government of Canada and a private sponsorship program, the North End Sponsorship Team (NEST). Before living in Beirut, the family also spent time in Iraq.
"It’s good, it’s just very good," said Hani, 37, of their new home, with the help of interpreter Omar Rahimi. "The kids are secure, they can have a future."
Having arrived for the winter, the family was experiencing an entirely new climate, but it meant little compared to the security they now have for their children.
"To be honest, cold is better than dying," Hani said. "I feel like I’m somebody here, I feel like I’m human here. The way people look at me, the way they help me, I feel human. Back in Iraq, in Lebanon, humans don’t have any value."
NEST is comprised of five Lutheran and two United Churches in Winnipeg.
February: City says no to 55+ residence in Charleswood
A hotly-contested development proposal for a 55+ residence at 521 Dieppe Rd. was rejected by the Assiniboia Community Committee in February.
The land is property of the Charleswood United Church and had been parceled and sold to the Charleswood Masons. The Masons hoped to develop a Life Lease residence as well as a separate building on the same property to be used by the group for meetings.
Council members rejected the plan on a lack of information regarding waste, water and land drainage, a decision that reflected many community members’ opposition to the plan. Architect Brian Wall, who represented the Masons and project developer, Bill Palmer, was criticized for lack of community input on the plan as well.
"The community has made it well-known in the three consultations that we’ve had that any building other than a single family home would not be supported so we just felt that, pardon the expression, we’d be beating our heads against a brick wall," Wall said.
Area residents who spoke in opposition also did not like the massive scale of the building, which would have been out of step with surrounding single family homes.
Wall told The Metro that he and the Masons had not made a decision about whether or not to appeal the Council’s decision.
March: Apex dance group dazzles
Westwood Collegiate’s Apex Dance Group were busy preparing for a showcase to help raise money for costumes and make-up.
The boys’ dance club is one of the only of its kind in West Winnipeg and instructor Brian Toms prides himself on transforming absolute beginners into performers.
"For me, coming to Apex a couple of years ago was really my first chance to experience a real dance class and it has been really interesting to see how far we’ve come from hardly being able to move to being able to put on multiple dance pieces throughout the year," Grade 12 student Owen Dueck said.
March: Decadence Chocolates opens on Sherbrook
West Broadway welcomed a new business at the end of March—Decadence Chocolates (70 Sherbrook St.).
Owner and chocolatier Helen Staines serves up a variety of milk and dark chocolate truffles, brownies, hot chocolate, ice cream, and seasonal confections. Originally from England, Staines learned chocolate-making through an online course.
Her chocolate is all about unusual—and delicious—pairings.
"I like fruit and chocolate so passion fruit is (a) favourite flavour," she said. "I don’t just do a strawberry chocolate, it’s strawberry and balsamic. I’ve married honey and thyme together. I do a lavender flavour because my mom grew lots of lavender in her garden in England."
April: Cadets commemorate 99th Vimy anniversary
The Minto Armoury hosted the 99th Vimy Ridge Commemoration on April 9, which saw 14 groups of Royal Canadian Army Cadets take part.
The 1226 Fort Gary Horse Cadets are a group of 60, most of whom took part in the large drill parade at the Minto. The Cadets work with youth ages 12 to 19 to prepare them for a possible career in the armed forces and equip them with life skills. The program is funded by the Department of National Defence and the Army Cadet League of Manitoba.
"It opens doors that some kids would never have otherwise," media officer for ACLC Linda Wall said of the program. "Some can’t afford to go to hockey, so this gives them opportunities."
To prepare for the commemoration, Cadets honed their drill skills for weeks in advance.
"We got a lot of compliments," Lee-Ann Shaler-Cadotte, 14, said.
Many of the Cadets were looking forward to training camps, which last between two and six weeks and are focused in areas such as expedition, shooting and band.
As of 2010, there have been no living First World War veterans and events such as the one at the Minto Armoury work to connect today’s youth to history.
May: Sturgeon Heights student takes gold in hairstyling
Not one to crack under pressure, Sturgeon Heights student Aerien Steadman wowed at the Skills Manitoba hairstyling competition in May, earning herself a gold medal.
The Grade 12 student began experimenting with hair dye in middle school and discovered a passion for it. A St. Boniface resident, Steadman attended Sturgeon Heights for their excellent hairstyling course.
"While we were in there I was working mostly on adrenaline because it was such a weird experience having so many people around me that are trying to win," Steadman said of the competition. Film and theatre are another passion of hers, and she hopes to find a career doing hair and makeup for actors on set.
May: Deer Lodge Centre celebrates 100 years
What began as a small hotel with a view of the Assiniboine River has come a long way to become what Deer Lodge is today—a care home and treatment facility with 487 beds.
Deer Lodge celebrated 100 years on June 29, 2016 with activities for residents and volunteers and a look back at some of the centre’s milestones. Today’s residents may be at the centre part- or full-time and have access to a social worker, physiotherapy, in-house medical care and a variety of activities to take part in.
"They have a good quality of life here," Deer Lodge communications co-ordinator Steve St. Louis said. "The social worker gets to know about the person and their interests and their likes, dislikes… They find out what activities the resident likes, be it curling, or bowling."
June: Young musician uses music to heal
Charleswood’s Connor Derraugh didn’t let a life-changing injury stop him from pursuing music as his passion.
The University of Manitoba student was in Grade 9 when he went in for a routine cleft lip surgery that resulted in a brain hemorrhage, causing a severe weakening on the right side of his body.
A saxophone player and pianist, Derraugh thought he might have lost his ability to play. However, it was music that pushed him forward in his recovery.
"(It) was obviously hard," Derraugh said. "But music has been my best therapy." Rather than do finger exercises his therapist gave him, Derraugh built up his strength on the piano keys.
June: Century-old elementary school closes its doors
Although small, Chapman School served the Charleswood community for 102 years before closing its doors due to lack of registration.
Many students moved to Royal School to finish out their elementary years, along with principal Lorraine de Monye. She said the historical building was a gift to the staff and students.
"It’s sort of blending the old with the new," she said of the school.
"Whenever a school closes it’s a loss for the community no matter what," superintendent Ted Fransen said. "It’s a reality of demographic changes. There are smaller families, fewer families with children in Charleswood and lots of schools in Charleswood have declining enrolment, and Chapman’s just declined too much."
July: Oak Park gets new football field
After a series of lower body injuries, parents of Oak Park football players and community residents banded together to help replace the football field.
Chair of the field improvement committee Jane Wegner worked with the Oak Park alumni association, parent committees and the City of Winnipeg to raise money and upgrade the uneven ground used for practices.
"This project will not only create a safe space for Oak Park students to play football and have phys-ed classes but a path will be added going around the field, connecting and improving the walkability of Charleswood," Wegner said to the crowd gathered at the sod turning on June 27.
July: Women’s kickboxing gym supports community
Female-owned Winnipeg Kickboxing and Muay Thai held a fundraiser to raise money for the Fort Garry Women’s Resource Centre on July 19.
The gym encouraged Winnipeggers to come out and try kickboxing in an inclusive environment for a suggested donation of $10 to go towards the centre. Beyond raising money for women in the community, the gym hopes to spread a message of strength and independence to women of all ages.
"A lot of kickboxing gyms are heavily male in the classes and run by men and sometimes they’re intimidating for kids and women to go to," communications manager Andrea Katz said. "Here, it’s a lot warmer of an environment and more welcoming."
August: Grace MRI sees high demand
When Grace Hospital became the city’s first community hospital to open an MRI, procedure wait times decreased slightly. However, the hospital has since become overwhelmed with requests from throughout the province.
The facility was made possible through a $3.25 million donation from Ed and Marg Danlychuk, as the machine’s cost was $10 million.
"I think there’s a great need for MRI," Ed said. "I unfortunately can’t use one because I have a pacemaker but prior to that, every time I had one, the wait time was just outrageous, and I think this will lessen the wait time. This is the big factor I think, with all hospitals."
August: First Jets captain celebrates 80th birthday
Ab McDonald was the first captain of the Winnipeg Jets and had a long hockey career playing for the Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Black Hawks and Montreal Canadiens, among others.
The 80-year-old still has a den full of memorabilia and a hundred great stories to tell, including one about scoring the Jets’ first goal. A true sports advocate, McDonald has been an honorary chairperson for the Special Olympics.
"The harder you work, the easier it gets. And if it’s fun doing it, it’s not hard work. It’s a crazy circle," McDonald said of his experiences.
September: Medicinal marijuana resource centre opens
St. James became home to the province’s first Medicinal Cannabis Resource Centre (MCRCI), which allows patients to get prescriptions as well as growing licenses.
The company is based out of Vancouver but has opened offices throughout Canada and connects patients to knowledgeable doctors via a telehealth conference.
CEO and president Terry Roycroft says that within a few days of opening, at least 30 Winnipeggers had called in for an appointment.
"The body has a cannabinoid system," Roycroft said. Patients include those with depression, anxiety, PTSD, cancer, glaucoma and chronic pain.
September: WBYO opens permanent location
West Broadway Youth Outreach director Ken Opaleke couldn’t hold back his excitement or tears as he cut the ribbons to a permanent location at 646 Portage Ave.
The centre had been using spaces throughout the community for homework clubs and skill-building workshops for youth. A new facility means more space and security for program participants.
"All I can tell you is the future of our city is bright," Opaleke said. "Take a look up at a University of Manitoba billboard and know that that is a West Broadway kid, who chose to be part of our vision."
October: Beloved Dairy Queen owners retire
St. James bid their favourite Dairy Queen owners farewell when the Perikises served up their last dilly bar at 2677 Portage Ave.
The couple was known throughout the neighbourhood for running a warm and welcoming restaurant during the summer months.
"Forty years that you put your heart and soul, so we’re happy. We’re leaving with good memories," Sula said.
Her husband Steve was the face of the shop and knew everyone who walked through the door.
"They’re so good to me. I met so many friends. They knew my problems, I knew their problems."
October: Charleswood family recieves Habitat home
Charleswood’s Tippmann family will be one of 16 to recieve a home built on Lyle Street by Habitat for Humanity.
Habitat announced its partnership with the Carter Work Project to create a total of 75 homes in Winnipeg and Edmonton in 2017, to be built during week-long blitzes.
"It’s life," Tippmann said when asked what a difference a house will make to her and her children Syanne, 9, Maria, 8, and Jamaica, 7. "It lets us plant our feet, no worries. My grandkids can be there. It’s a huge opportunity for us, a home.
November: First Manitoban distillery opens
Capital K, located in St. James’ industrial district, was Manitoba’s first grain-to-bottle distillery to open.
Owned by Jason Kang, the facility is set to produce vodka, rum and whiskey for purchase by the bottle in liquor stores.
Kang learned distilling from videos, books and a course in Seattle. The process is small-batch and labour intensive, each batch taking approximately 14 days to complete.
"I have a background knowledge in Chinese spirits," Kang says, who immigrated from China 14 years ago. "I had a mentor there and he worked for a big distillery for 20 years, so all of my background knowledge is from him."
"Before you have your own product sitting on the table, it’s more like, can I do it?" Kang said. "Once I tried it myself, I thought OK, the product is good."
Kang hopes to offer tours of the facility as well as a tasting room for liquor samples and cocktails. He had prepared his first batch of vodka and was refining the process of bottling, sealing and labelling the bottles.
Like others in the field, Kang now faces financial challenges following the province’s cancellation of the Manitoba Craft Liquor Opportunity Fund.
December: Cheer Board up and running
In December, the Christmas Cheer Board (250-1395 Ellice Ave.) was gearing up for another year of helping families in need.
Hampers and gifts were sent to approximately 50,000 people throughout Winnipeg, including single mothers, large families, and homeless folks. Volunteers as well as donations made the program possible, and this year several schools came in to help pack boxes.
Director Kai Madsen said the board also sees plenty of immigrant and refugee families.
"We don’t get any government funding and we basically say to people, ‘This organization belongs to all of you, and if you want us to do it, you’re going to have to support it,’" Madsen said.
December: Jollibee comes to town
The long-awaited Filipino fast food restaurant arrived on Ellice Avenue 10 days before Christmas.
A lineup of approximately 500 people braved the winter cold on the restaurant’s first opening day, while crowds continued to flock to the restaurant for several weeks afterwards. Jollibee even set up a warming hut for people waiting for their food.
Jollibee Foods Corporation’s group president for North America Jose Miñana said Winnipeg seemed like an obvious choice for the company’s first Canadian location due to Winnipeg’s large Filipino population.
"We heard that Winnipeg really likes to try new food and to eat, and plus the booming growth of the economy here, I think it just felt like the best and right timing for us to open in Winnipeg," he said.
Community journalist — The Metro
Alana Trachenko is the community journalist for The Metro Email her at alana.trachenko@canstarnewscom Call her at 204-697-7132