Writing

Between my undergrad and grad school I worked as a reporter for a small community newspaper in Virden, Manitoba. These are some of my articles.


Local Farm Family Honoured

On October 13, 2010, a cairn was unveiled on Ken and Sharon Johnson’s pasture land to honour their Conservation Agreement made with the partnership Ducks Unlimited Canada and Tundra Oil & Gas.

Ducks Unlimited Canada is a national, private, non-profit organization committed to conserving Canada’s wetlands. Tundra Oil & Gas, a wholly owned affiliate of James Richardson & Sons, is the highest producer of oil in Manitoba. As such, their partnership may seem a bit unlikely. However, as President and CEO of Tundra Oil & Gas, Daniel MacLean, stressed: “we are very cognizant of the impact we have on the land, and want to make sure that the impact we leave is a positive one.”

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Taxing the Memory of Soldiers

Last summer Ontario and British Columbia merged their GST with their sales tax to create their 13 per cent harmonized sales tax (HST). Unfortunately, this merger affects a Toronto-based factory where millions of Remembrance Day poppies are produced and purchased by the Royal Canadian Legion. As such, poppies are subject to the 13 per cent HST.

Poppy donations raise about $11 million per year, which veterans and their families rely on for important services like dental care and meals-on-wheels programs, to name just two. According to the Royal Canadian Legion, the new HST would cost them an additional $300,000 in taxes.

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Changing the Face of Men’s Health

Seven years ago, just thirty men registered to participate in Movember. This year, on November 19, Movember, the month of the moustache, witnessed its millionth participant registration.

Registered participants of Movember—Mo Bros—are challenged to let their upper lip run wild for the entirety of November and grow a hairy Mo (moustache). The Mo becomes the ribbon for men’s health and the means by which awareness and funds are raised for prostate cancer. Beards and goatees, however, are not acceptable. Women are also encouraged to register as Mo Sistas and support their Mo Bros in their quest to grow a moustache and change the face of men’s health.

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Moffatt Chosen as Citizen of the Year

At the spry age of 94, James Moffatt has been chosen as Virden’s Citizen of the Year. He was presented the award on December 4, 2010, by Mayor Jeff McConnell, one of the men who nominated Moffatt not only for this award, but also for the Order of Manitoba back in 2008.

An enthusiastic contributor to the community for nearly four decades, Moffatt relates that he was surprised and honoured to have been chosen for the award.

“I knew a couple weeks ahead of time that I was nominated, but I didn’t know I’d win.”

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Virden Congratulates Bronze Medalists

Pairs skaters Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers are making headlines, and not just in the Virden Empire-Advance. Recently, the team was featured in newspapers across the country when they took third place at the BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships in Victoria last January.

To celebrate their achievements as skaters and competitors, and to get a good look at the medals, community members were invited by Skate Virden to attend a reception held in the pair’s honour February 3 in the multipurpose room of the Aud Theatre.

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Crisis in Christchurch

When John and Dianne Liefso of Virden, Manitoba, booked their vacation to New Zealand, the last thing they expected was to find themselves sitting in a booth in a pizza joint in Christchurch, holding on to a table for dear life amidst the roar and rumble of an earthquake. Expected or not, that’s exactly where they ended up.

The Liefsos, having already completed most of their 24-day vacation to New Zealand, had arrived in Christchurch on February 21, following an 11-day tour around the south island.

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Alleged Arsonists Arrested

It was a grim day February 9, 2010, when the hardworking residents of Fleming, Saskatchewan, located just across the Manitoba/Saskatchewan border along the Trans Canada Highway, awoke to find their recently restored, nationally recognized historic grain elevator engulfed in flames.

A press release issued shortly after the fire stated that the RCMP were treating the fire as suspicious.

On May 2, over a year later, another press release was issued stating that two Manitoba men have been arrested in relation to the crime that destroyed the historical Lake of the Woods Milling Co. elevator and are facing charges for arson.

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Sir Elton John is Just a Normal Guy

For many, the May 7 Elton John concert at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg would have been a once in a lifetime occurrence. For most, a trip to France and cruising around on the music legend’s private yacht would be the stuff of dreams. For Curtis Joseph, a young resident of Sinclair, Manitoba, these are things that he has already crossed off of his bucket list.

Obviously, there must be a link that connects a 16-year-old aspiring mechanic and a music legend so revolutionary that the Queen of England herself recognized the man and knighted him in 1998. That link is Trev Henuset, native of Pipestone and chiropractor to the stars.

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Around the World in Eleven Years

Eleven years and two months, 51 pairs of shoes, three buggies and continuous support from his family—these are the things required for Montreal native Jean Béliveau to walk 75,000 kilometres across 64 countries and five continents around the world. On Friday, May 27, 2011, the world wide walker passed through Virden [Manitoba] on his way home.

Unhappy with his working career, Béliveau was running in his Montreal neighbourhood one day late in 1999 when he offhandedly wondered how long it would take him to reach New York, and then Mexico. Returning home, Béliveau researched the distances and, just like that, his dream to walk around the world was born.

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Is Your Toddler a Track Star?

As a society, we are constantly evolving, developing and moving forward. Many theories, ideas, technologies and objects that exist today were simply unimaginable, or barely conceivable, only a few decades ago.

For instance, I vaguely remember my grandparents’ telephone party line and listening for their distinctive ring. Now, two short decades later, Manitoba is preparing to introduce a second area code and 10-digit dialing to keep up with the demands of cell phone usage.

It is undeniable that technological and scientific advances over the past few decades have been incredible. But how far are we willing to go?

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Young at Heart

A man, his son, and a couple of guitars. Though Tuesday’s Charlie Major concert at the Aud Theatre can be described in many ways, that is the simplest, and most effective.

An award winning Canadian country music singer and songwriter, Major spent the first half of his October 27 concert standing alone on stage with his guitar and harmonica, enticing laughter and appreciative applause from the crowd with his easy charm, quick wit, and obvious talent.

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Music to Her Ears

For 37 years, Keri Shiner could hear next to nothing; but on November 17, 2011, the voices of her three young boys were like music to her ears when she heard them say “Mom, I love you” for the first time.

The recipient of a cochlear implant—a surgically implanted electronic receiver and stimulator with an external transmitter that allows those severely hard of hearing a sense of sound—Shiner underwent surgery on October 14 after waiting two long years to ensure that she was a suitable candidate for the procedure.

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Bison — A Farmer’s Dream Animal

If you ask Trevor Gompf, bison are the perfect farm animal. They eat less than beef cattle, rarely get sick, calve themselves, and stay out to pasture literally all-year-round. Of course, it helps when you’ve been in the business for 15 years.

As proprietors of Bison Spirit Ranch at Oak Lake, Gompf and his wife Jodie run a herd of 500 bison on 1280 acres, a herd that started out much smaller as a business venture between family in 1997.

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So, You Planted Winter Wheat…

Following an incredibly soggy spring, summer, and fall, this past winter [2011-12] produced next to nothing by way of precipitation and Canadian temperatures hovered embarrassingly close to zero, with only a few snowfalls and frigid days scattered here and there. As such, some farmers may be wondering just how the lack of snowfall and mild temperatures may be affecting their winter wheat crops.

According to Scott Chalmers, a Manitoba Agriculture, Food, and Rural Initiatives (MAFRI) Diversification Technician with Westman Agricultural Diversification Organization (WADO) in Melita, [Manitoba] there is nothing to worry about…so far.

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The Career of a Lifetime

At the tender age of six years old, Isabella Dryden walked home from the small school house that fostered her early love of education, marched right up to her mother, and told her that she would be a teacher when she grew up. Now, at the capable age of 94, Dryden has not only made a career of her love of learning, but has spent her life in constant pursuit of knowledge. Oh, and she’s still teaching.

“I knew what I wanted to do at six years old and I never wavered,” she says of her 76-year career as an educator, the last 29 of which having been spent as a volunteer educator at Creative Retirement Manitoba in Winnipeg.

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Nearly Sixty Years

In February of 1952, following the passing of her father, Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne, commencing what would be the second-longest reign of a British monarch to-date. Sixty years later, the Queen and the Commonwealth are celebrating her Diamond Jubilee [2012].

For Virden resident Audrey Jasper, however, it isn’t this year that stands out in her mind as the diamond anniversary, but next—she was in attendance at the Queen’s coronation, June 2, 1953.

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So Long, Farewell — A Love Letter to My Readers

When I was in university, studying my Bachelor of Arts in English, I was constantly pestered by my family (Dad in particular) about the possibility of moving home after school and working for a newspaper indefinitely. Every time, I adamantly refused that as a possibility. No way was I going to be a reporter.

Now, that may seem like an odd intro for an editorial written by a staff reporter, but please, allow me to explain myself. I’ll start at the beginning (sort of).

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