Awards were supposed to be presented in 2020, but 150 Manitobans, including 14 from Southeast Manitoba will finally have their time in the spotlight.
As part of Manitoba 150 celebrations, Honour 150 was a program launched in early 2020, allowing people to nominate Manitobans they thought gave back to their communities, enriching the places they live, work and play.
COVID-19 restrictions delayed an official ceremony to recognize the winners selected by a volunteer jury.
The Manitoba 150 committee announced the award recipients on Wednesday, issuing a joint statement from co-chairs Monique LaCoste and Stuart Murray.
"In these unprecedented times, the stories of these 150 Manitobans demonstrate the resilience, hope, and selflessness that make our province strong. Their achievements reflect the amazing deeds that have contributed to Manitoba’s reputation as the most generous province in Canada," the statement said. "We have never been prouder to call ourselves Manitoban."
Honourees will receive a commemorative medal, produced by Awards Canada who have incorporated copper salvaged from the Legislative building. The medal features a design created by Manitoba artist Takashi Iwasaki, who drew inspiration from Manitoba’s prairie sky, rivers, villages and farming roots.
"Just as the medal tells a deeper story, so too do the amazing individuals who will receive it," Iwasaki said. "Their stories are infinite, and I hope when they look at their medal, they know that Manitoba appreciates them."
Steinbach’s Tammy Bekkering won the award because of her work with Steinbach Community Outreach being an advocate to help people achieve long-term, safe and stable living conditions.
Cyndy Friesen, also from Steinbach was honoured for her work with Agape House, the MS Society, Diabetes Canada, Steinbach Community Christmas, the Terry Fox Run and the Canadian Cancer Society Relay for Life in addition to other volunteer work.
Murielle Bugera of St Pierre spent more than two decades spearheading the development of the 193 km Crow Wing Trail, and also works with the Rat River Health Council.
Vita’s Robert Cesmystruk has been giving back to his community for more than 50 years. He helped establish the RM of Stuartburn Fire Department and was its first chief. He’s also been invaluable to the Vita Curling Club, helped raise funds to develop baseball diamonds and a tennis court and was a coach, referee, 4-H leader, and board member on several organizations.
Merle Gadsby from Mitchell has been involved in Special Olympics as coach and leader for 35 years. Seen as instrumental in establishing and maintaining the program in the Steinbach area she now oversees the entire Eastman Region.
Mike Gilmore of St Jean has a history of coaching a variety of sports in the small community, uniting people with fundraisers and inspiring others to get involved. He hosts an annual hockey tournament for farmers that brings the community together and raises fund for the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba.
St. Jean’s Lucien Jean is also being honoured. He has produced community plays in French for 18 years, amplifying local and regional talent and bringing everyone together. He’s also a key part of beautifying the community with 28 flowering planters and the planting of more than 300 trees.
Ken Griffin of Woodmore says helping people comes natural to him. He has a record of giving back to the communities of Woodmore, Vita, Emerson and St Malo, helping with the Emerson Franklin Food Bank and the Woodmore Community Hall renovation project.
Dan Guetre of Richer has a track record of dedication to his community. Starting with Black Bear Days, he’s been a community volunteer and organizer for years, raising funds for cancer, Richer’s ice rink and the annual Richer Roughstock Rodeo.
Dugald’s Lawrie Kyle has been volunteering in the RM of Springfield for 54 years and counting. Over the years he’s worked with the curling club, seniors housing, the cemetery, Canadian Costume Museum, and the Springfield Archives.
Claudette Lavack of Ste Anne continues to better the lives of her fellow residents. She’s worked with youth in the Justice system, helps organize Christmas hampers, volunteers weekly at Villa Youville Nursing Home and volunteers at a local school.
Landmark’s Jennifer Plett has been advocating for the community since 2005. She was the lead on several playground projects around the community, and helped rally others to raise funds for a family whose child was struck by a car.
Jeannot Robert from Ste Agathe has been an integral part of the community since 1975. He led the charge to renew the community after it was flooded in 1997 and is seen as the heart and soul of the community.
Anola’s Lexi Taylor has been addressing homelessness since she was nine. Since then her focus on helping the homeless population has continued, as she’s worked alongside other organizations.
The Carillon will feature all 14 award recipients in this and upcoming editions.