Rotary Club of Portage la Prairie

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Portage La Prairie

Service Above Self

We meet Tuesdays at 12:00 PM
Canad Inns
2401 Saskatchewan Avenue W
Portage La Prairie, MB  R1N 3L5
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Craig Bennet, president of the Rotary Club of Portage la Prairie. (Submitted photo)

Craig Bennet, president of the Rotary Club of Portage la Prairie. (Submitted photo)


20 questions with Craig Bennet, president of the Rotary Club of Portage la Prairie.

1. It's Sunday morning, what are you having for breakfast?

Coffee, more coffee and waffles. Something I make with my son.

2. If you didn't do what you do for a living, what would you be?

Air traffic controller.

3. Who's your hero?

Has to be my parents, an inspiration to me always.

4. Last book you couldn't put down?

The Wealthy Barber Returns (David Chilton).

5. Who was your childhood celebrity crush?

Bo Derek.

6. What's playing in you iPod (CD, cassette or eight track) right now?

70’s/80’s classics. What else is there?

7. If you could see one concert, what would it be?

Zach Brown band.

8. What's the best thing about Portage la Prairie?

The people. Whenever a service club has something going on, the community always supports them.

9. What's your weirdest habit?

My night ends at 9 p.m. Don’t ask me to do a job after 9 p.m. My wife knows this and thinks it is weird.

10. What's your biggest pet peeve?

Empty boxes of food (crackers, cookies, etc.) put back in the cupboard. Our family likes to call it ‘pulling a Modesto.’ Ask us why sometime.

11. What's your fast-food guilty pleasure?

Donuts at Tim’s.

12. What was your most embarrassing moment?

Having to improvise for five minutes on stage when the next actor did not come in on his cue. He was still changing.

13. Which person, alive or dead, would you like to have dinner with?

A dinner to remember with my Grandfather Bennet. He passed away when I was eight.

14. What's your favourite vacation destination?

Depends on the season: winter – any place warm. Summer – has to be the east coast.

15. What is your favourite TV show?

Criminal minds or MASH.

16. What's your dream car?

Just happy to have one that is paid off in full.

17. If you could have one super power, what would it be?

The ability to mark students papers in a matter of minutes. (Super Marking Ability – SMA).

18. What's the one thing you haven't done that you'd love to do?

I love golfing, so to be able to play a round at Augusta or to see The Masters.

19. If we're buying, you're having?

Chicken Parmigiana but it has to be from The Olive Garden.

20. What are your words to live by?

One day at a time!


people judy sauder mar032015Judy Sauder, executive director of Central Plains Cancer Care Services

Central Plains Cancer Care Services made their presentation today at the Portage la Prairie Rotary luncheon.

Judy Sauder is executive director, and outlines the services they offer.

"I presented a lot in the programs and services that Central Plains Cancer Care Services offer. Our two main programs are the transportation program and the education program with in our schools. We also have community health programs, a resource library, and we offer head-coverings to women who've lost their hair from chemo."

Sauder showed artificial tools they use to teach cancer awareness.

"I did pass around some samples of what we use in the schools for our education program. So, I passed around a couple of breasts with some lumps in them, and I also passed around a testicle with lumps in it."

Among the props was a jar showing the amount of phlegm a victim of COPD coughs up in two weeks, as well as vials of fat showing amounts that exist in common foods.

cancer props sauder mar032015Tactile props used to provide cancer awareness.

Sauder explains the next big event on the services agenda.

"Our next event -- it's a third party event -- and it's going to be put on by the Lioness Club, and it's the Celebrity Auction. And it's going to be held on Saturday, March 21, at 7pm at Canad Inns. It's free to attend. Bring everyone - come one, come all. It's a really fun evening where they auction off anything that people have donated. Last year they raised around $16,000."



places pond hockey rink3 feb172015The ice is ready for the championship to begin

The 10th annual E.F. Moon Western Canadian Pond Hockey championship kicks off this Friday.

Chair Travis Foster says right now they have about eleven teams registered to play, noting they could definitely take a few more if anyone's interested in putting in a team.

Foster says you can even sign up as an individual, because they have a list they're putting together of people who want to play but don't have enough to fill a team. He notes the cut-off for registration is tomorrow morning, so if you want to participate, you can go to the website and send him an email through the link.

Foster adds the ice surface will be divided up into three rinks so they can have three games running at the same time throughout the weekend.

He says this year the new location is right outside the PCU Centre, noting they'll be using the Rotary Room inside the Centre for the supper.


people david sattler feb172015David Sattler, general manager of Portage Regional Recreation Authority

The PCU Centre continues to grow in popularity, bringing a lot of economic boost to Portage la Prairie.

David Sattler is general manager of the Portage Regional Recreation Authority and presented their statistics at the Portage la Prairie Rotary luncheon this week.

"In 2014 we saw a total of 108,000 visitors come to our two aquatic facilities. That is equivalent to five times Portage's population.  A popular destination spot in the summer is Splash Island. We have people who are driving from two hours away to come and spend the entire day there. So, what we're trying to do now is capitalize on that and try and turn it into every weekend for everybody in southern Manitoba to come to Portage."

Sattler says more ice rental times are being marketed.  

"Ice rentals. Right now we're fairly booked solid, say, October to February 4pm to 9pm Monday through Friday.  So, we are getting to a point where we have to get outside of that zone to increase our revenue generation.  So, early morning, say 6am to 8am, or late evenings after 9pm during the week.  And these are areas that we're  going to have to specifically market in the next few years, because we are reaching a saturation point."

He notes word is spreading about the PCU Centre, drawing more groups to hold events there.

"In 2014, we had 28 large events where people came to Portage for more than one day, most likely two. This included everything from hockey to ringette tournaments, provincial championships, Watchtower convention -- which is a huge event that takes place in the summer when we're a little bit slower -- and All Nations Tribal Days which brings 3,000 visitors from outside the region."

Sattler says their next big event is All Nations Tribal Days running from February 27 to March 2. Many activities will take place, not only in the PCU Centre, but the BDO Centre as well.



people dave omichinski2 jan272015Dave Omichinski, Portage Chamber of Commerce President

The Portage Chamber of Commerce has put the Assiniboine flood problem at the top of their concerns.

President Dave Omichinski says, "We've identified as priority 1 or 1a is the whole Assiniboine flood issue. That's something we've been involved with since last July. We've met with all kinds of stakeholders including the RM.  We are meeting with some federal ministers with the Manitoba chambers in early February. We are looking at taking a resolution forward to the Manitoba Chambers AGM that is going to be co-sponsored with the Brandon chamber and likely the Virden chamber. This is a really important Manitoba issue."

Omichinski lists their efforts so far.

"We have added our voice in support of all of the impacted stakeholders. Whether it's agri business, non-agri business, from a chamber perspective, they're definitely being negatively impacted. But you have cottage owners, you've got municipalities, you've got just property owners. There's negative impact all over the place. Huge uncertainty and when people are uncertain, what do they do? They keep their wallets in their pocket. "

He adds they're working with the province over the problem.


"We've added our voice and engaged with the Manitoba Chambers to help get that message out across the province. Winnipeg is an important area that we're focusing on to try and help to create some awareness within the city of Winnipeg that action needs to be taken. And even with Portage -- that this issue is not behind us."


The Portage Rotary Club thanked all the people who played heroes and villains during its Jail and Bail in 2014 during its weekly meeting at Canad Inns on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. Rotary was able to raise $21,000 for its charitable causes. Rhonda Lodwick raised the most at $2,500. (Svjetlana Mlinarevic/The Graphic/QMI Agency)

The Portage Rotary Club thanked all the people who played heroes and villains during its Jail and Bail in 2014 during its weekly meeting at Canad Inns on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. Rotary was able to raise $21,000 for its charitable causes. Rhonda Lodwick raised the most at $2,500. (Svjetlana Mlinarevic/The Graphic/QMI Agency)


Portage la Prairie Rotary Club thanked its many volunteers and members for all their help and support in 2014, especially during the club’s major fundraiser of the year, Jail and Bail.

“The Rotary Club has a large membership that dedicates a lot of time and effort to community projects and fundraisers, but the important thing is we love people who are non-Rotarians that are able to come out and support us and able to volunteer at some of our events, so we felt we needed the opportunity to give back to those people that have given to us as well,” said Preston Meier, public relations manager for the club.

The 2014 Jail and Bail raised more than $21,000 for the club and the Portage Community Revitalization Corporation (PCRC). Local realtor Rhonda Lodwick raised the most with a total of $2,400. PCRC executive director Mary Lynn Moffat said the money will be split between the two organizations and used to improve walkways and north end park development.

“This is one of the largest fundraisers because it’s split between the two organizations. From PCRC’s standpoint, as well as Rotary, it’s a great event and a very important event because it not only gets a handful of people involved, it gets the whole community involved,” she said, noting this wasn’t the largest sum Jail and Bail has ever raised as its first year saw more than $26,000.

Jail and Bail happens every other year as it trades off between the RCMP and the RCAF Galas so the next one won’t be until 2016.

New Member

The club also welcomed a new member into its fold. Christine Verwey received her pin from former president Jean-Marc Nadeau.

Nadeau shared his experience of being a Rotarian while working with NATO in Afghanistan in 2011-12. Working as an RCMP officer, Nadeau trained Afghani police. While travelling back-and-forth from Afghanistan, Nadeau stopped in Frankfurt, Germany, where he met a Rotarian from India and began chatting with him.

“The pin is something that’s recognizable internationally,” said Nadeau. “We got to exchange some stories and some value and it was great to have that opportunity. More over, being in Afghanistan, I had lunch with the president of the local club in Kabul. Rotary is a worldwide organization and wearing the pin you will allow you to meet people in all your travels.”


places rotary grant laverendryeschool dec302014Left to Right: Guy Moffat, Karly Friesen and Stephanie Brown

Portage's La Verendrye School's play structure project got some help from the Portage Rotary Club on December 30 at the club's luncheon.

The Rotary Club presented a $600.00 cheque to Stephanie Brown and Karly Friesen of the school, and Brown explains the project.

"It's been a process that we've been taking a part of the last -- almost -- four years now. It stemmed because our playground was falling apart. We really had a huge drive over this past summer and we were able to order up a playground and it's been installed in September."

She notes her surprise when the young students' provided their input when asked for suggestions.

"Then I said, 'Is that everything?' And they said, 'Well, we need garbage. Where are we going to put the garbage. And we need more benches. We don't have enough benches.' I personally was blown away because I hadn't foreseen that students, or children, at that age would actually think about. They were actually considering  all people. They were thinking about their parents bringing them, or being able to watch them. You know, having siblings that could sit there. They thought about themselves just hanging out. And then they actually thought. 'Well, we need to put some back in the shade.' They actually even thought about placement and where's the best spot for them."

Brown adds they could use your help.  

"As far as looking into our Phase 2, if somebody is interested, whether they have the knowledge of grant applications, or if they want to help out manually, to help with projects that we are thinking about in the near future, probably the easiest is to call La Verendrye School."

La Verendrye School's phone number is (204) 857-3478.


people stacy turner jan062015Pictured: Stacy Turner

The Fifth Portage Cubs were the highlight at the Rotary luncheon this week.  

Section leader Stacy Turner says they live up to their motto, "Be Prepared", by teaching kids to be ready for life.  

"We just came today to give a little bit of a rundown on what the Fifth Portage Cub Scouts do in our community and how we help the community and what the community does for us. Being prepared is always telling somebody where you're going, always making sure you have a safety kit in  your car, and what goes in that safety kit, and how to tie a knot. Little things like that that you don't think you'll ever use but you use."

Turner outlines the program.

"Just some of the fun things we do. The kids do learn and do unique things, but all the fun and extra things the kids get to do, I think, are really amazing -- camps and things like that. We do a big drive in August, so I think that maybe in August people can start looking for us and hear about us and come visit us and find out what we're all about."

She adds some programs were closed due to lack of new membership, but in the last three or four years they have been growing. She gives some highlights of this coming year.

"This year we have some really neat things the kids are going to learn about. No-trace camping which is making it as if you've never been there before. So, nobody can tell you that you've been there. So, they're learning how to do that, and clean up after themselves. And we'll be going to Rushing River, Ontario, to check out some camps there, and meet some new friends. We go to a Survivor Camp and an overnight at the Planetarium."


people hayley bedard dec302014Hayley Bedard

The Portage Rotary Club luncheon highlighted a local high school student's volunteer work this week.  

Hayley Bedard attends Portage Collegiate Institute. She explains her presentation focused upon her trip to Kenya in 2013 for which she received a scholarship to travel along with twenty four other students from across Canada.

"I was asked to come here to talk about my volunteerism, and a big part of that was my trip to Kenya because that is what really got my passion started in real life.  Before that it was mostly just interesting issues, but that trip was the first step that I made towards putting action into my passion and really thinking about what I wanted to do with it in the future."

Bedard notes how she became interested in social justice.

"My sixth grade teacher read to us the story of "Free the Children" by Craig Kielburger. And so, that kind of opened the door for me to all these social justice issues. And I just kind of discovered that's what I am impassioned about. So, it's really thanks to her I know about all of these things."

She shares how she started the Students for Change program.  

"I started Students for Change with my grade 8 teacher.  And then I handed down the group to Ally Nadeau, after I left. So she was in charge while I was in High School.  So they just kind of helped the group grow and start actually doing some things to help the community."

Bedard says her goal before graduating from high school is to raise $10,000.00 to help a Kenyan girl attend four years at a "Free the Children High School." She adds the Rotary Club is interested in allowing her to use their room at the PCU Centre to hold a fundraiser by selling purses in the next couple of months.  


Rotary Club members Preston Meier and Shannon Neff pose for a selfie with Santa Claus after he made a surprise appearance at the Rotary Club's last meeting before Christmas at the Canad Inns on Dec. 23. (Johnna Ruocco/THE GRAPHIC/QMI AGENCY)
Rotary Club members Preston Meier and Shannon Neff pose for a selfie with Santa Claus after he made a surprise appearance at the Rotary Club's last meeting before Christmas at the Canad Inns on Dec. 23.
A festive mood was in the air at the Rotary Club’s final meeting before Christmas on Dec. 23 at the Canad Inns.
Mayor Irvine Ferris was up as speaker and gave an overview of what council has been working on since their election in October, with an emphasis placed on communication, adding council will be having quarterly meetings in a location other than city hall to make the meetings more accessible.
“This council will be more engaged with the citizens it represents. I think that’s really, really important. There’s many different ways to communicate but just putting the emphasis on it, you’ll see council putting more effort into that and hopefully we do a better job of it,” he said.
Another way of opening the doors to better communication is coming to events like the Rotary meeting, he said.
“This is a very good cross section of our community, we’ve got a lot of business people and this is also a service club that’s been extremely active in the community on many, many different fronts,” Ferris said. “So keeping them up-to-date on what’s going on I think is helpful as they plan their year ahead too.”
Rotary president Craig Bennet agrees.
“(We had Ferris speak) just to give us an idea of what’s going on and some of the future outlooks that he has,” Bennet said. “We always enjoy having him to our meetings, and we wanted to keep our meeting a little bit traditional with just some of the focus of where we go and what we’re looking at for next year and where we want to help out.”
And while the first half of the meeting was a traditional Rotary meeting, the second half was anything but, and included the Rotarians belting out “The Twelve Days of Christmas” as well as a special guest.
“We always like to end off the year with a bit of fun, recognize some of the Rotarians that have helped us out and some of the community businesses that have helped us out as well and just kind of bring a little bit more fellowship to one of our meetings, instead of the traditional meetings we usually have.”
Santa Claus, who bore a striking resemblance to Rotarian Derek McCutcheon, dropped by for a surprise visit to hand out presents to Rotarians on the nice list.
“Santa, you’ve gotta call him early, let me tell you, to get a hold of him, he’s a busy man right now.”

people craig bennett jean marc nadeau july082014Rotary President Craig Bennet (right)

Craig Bennet says it was a very good year for the Portage Rotary Club.  Bennet notes he took over as president in July, but earlier in the year under the leadership of Jean-Marc Nadeau the club was able to pay off its commitment to the PCU Centre---which was a big deal.  Bennet says they were also able to retain the naming rights for the Rotary Republic of Manitobah Park, adding the Rotarians committed some money to the PRRA so they can upgrade the facilities at the park.  He notes during 2014 they also worked with the PRRA and Cody Buhler in looking at the Rotary golf disc course which will open next spring.


people daniel garcia rotary2 dec022014Daniel Garcia

A South American foreign exchange student is enjoying Portage la Prairie's seasonal weather.  

Daniel Garcia arrived here three months ago and shares his highlights.

"I'm from Colombia. In this moment I'm on exchange for Rotary in Canada. The cold, the snow... I like it."

Garcia adds his school sxchedule at home in Cali, Colombia, is a little different than here in Canada.  He begins his schoolday at 5:00am with clases starting at 7:00am and closing at about 1:30pm.  The sun is already risen by 5:00am in Colombia.

Brad Poole is member of the Rotary Youth Exchange Program in Portage la Prairie.  Poole explains the program.

"Students in the Rotary Youth Exchange program apply to their Rotary districts all over the world. Once they've gone through the selection process the students will have indicated  three host countries that they would prefer to go to.  And of course Rotary International tries to match students with their number one country at all times."

Poole adds, "The exchange students arrive in their host countries and at their host clubs. They typically spend just about eleven months there immersed in the culture and traditions of their host community as well as their host country. Danny Garcia, our exchange student, is enrolled at PCI as a student, and is an active member with the club. He provides us with updates on his exchange year."

He notes Garcia is primarily in Canada to learn more of the English language.  

Poole adds the program is always looking for host families. For those who think their schedule may be too busy to host a student, that is actually a perfect situation for them to tag along to all your events and experience more of our culture.  To host an exchange student for two or three months, send an email to Rotary President Craig Bennet by clicking here, or Youth Liaison Kathy Belton by clicking here.  Their website is here.



Joe Masi, executive director of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities, speaks about issues facing the city and RM of Portage la Prairie during the Rotary Club and Portage la Prairie Chamber of Commerce’s joint meeting on Nov. 4 at Canad Inns. (Johnna Ruocco/THE GRAPHIC/QMI AGENCY)

Joe Masi, executive director of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities, speaks about issues facing the city and RM of Portage la Prairie during the Rotary Club and Portage la Prairie Chamber of Commerce’s joint meeting on Nov. 4 at Canad Inns.

The Portage la Prairie Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club of Portage la Prairie are calling their second joint meeting a resounding success.

The meeting, held Nov. 4 at Canad Inns, featured Association of Manitoba Municipalities executive director Joe Masi as a guest speaker.

“We’re very happy to talk to these groups, you look in the audience and they have a lot of influential people here who can add their voice to what municipalities need,” Masi said.

“These are people who have a lot of influence and can help push the agenda along with our association, so for me it was a double pleasure to speak to people I know very well but also to give them the message that we need some help as municipalities.”

The packed room heard Masi speak about the key issues facing the city and RM of Portage la Prairie.

“Infrastructure costs and projects are very important to this area and we’ve been working on a number of programs like the Gas Tax and the Building Canada and so on.”

The cost of policing is another issue that is a concern in the Portage area, said Masi, and the AMM is working with the city to find efficiencies.

“We’ve also got bylaw enforcement, a very important issue to all municipalities, and the speed zones, so a lot of issues were raised by the city and the RM at our convention and we’re happy that some of these have gone forward and we’re making progress on them.”

He said a major issue many taxpayers don’t realize is that on average for every tax dollar in Canada, the federal government gets 50 cents and the province gets 42 cents, while municipalities receive eight cents.

“We just need a better balance, eight cents just isn’t enough to provide this infrastructure, your recreation, we know the costs of what it takes to build the PCU Centre and these things so that’s ultimately the long term solution is apart from all these programs, we need a long term predictable funding source separate from property taxes,” Masi said.

One issue the AMM has lobbied on in order to see predictable funding is seeing municipalities receive the one per cent increase in the PST.

“When the province brought in the sales tax increase we wanted to see that dedicated to municipalities, the province took most of it, we got a bit of it,” Masi said, noting the road program announced in Portage Friday comes from the increase.

Communication is key

The second joint meeting between the two organizations is a fantastic way to increase the communication between different groups in the community, said chamber president Dave Omichinski.

“If we have a better understanding within the community of people and people know what other people or groups are doing, then we can leverage that, you’re reducing redundancy. ‘If I’m going to chase this project, you don’t need to, or you can provide a supportive role or vice versa,’” he said.



people presley bolton oct 21Presley Bolton says the six days at the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards camp were unforgettable

A local Portage Collegiate Institute student had a chance to thank the Portage la Prairie Rotary club for the opportunity of a lifetime. Presely Bolton was the speaker at yesterday's weekly Rotary luncheon, and shared her experience at the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards camp in Clear Lake. She spent six days at the event, taking part in a wide range of activities, varying from survival skills training and scavenger hunts, to serious discussions about social issues.

She says she became immediately interested in attending the camp, after hearing such great things about the opportunity from Brianne Klassen and Quinn Ferris.

"I talked to Quinna and Brianne who went last year, and they said only good things about it. It sounded like such a good experience and I didn't want to miss out on that."

While Bolton says she didn't know anyone going into the camp, that changed as early as the bus ride out to Clear Lake.

"I wasn't expecting everyone to be so open and so sweet with everybody. We all became friends so, so fast."

On top of the many exciting activities that took place over the six days, those at the RYLA camp also had an opportunity to discuss some serious matters such as gender roles and eugenics. She said the combination of serious topics and fun made for an intersting week.

"It was good because after a serious heart-to-heart sort of thing, then we'd go out for a swim or go canoeing so it really equaled out."

She says she took home many new skills from the camp, noting the survival skills, as well as the leadership lessons covered over the week. She reccomends the opportunity to anyone in Portage who is looking for an unforgettable experience.



people dave patsackDave Patsack provides an update on 2015 RBC Cup preparations

The Portage la Prairie Rotary Club's received on update on the preparations for the 2015 RBC Cup in Portage. Committee co-chair Dave Patsack was the guest speaker at the weekly Rotary luncheon meeting and explains things are moving along well.

"Everything is on track, we could possibly use more sponsorships. We could possibly use a few more volunteers in certain areas, but we'll know better by the end of the month when I have my meeting as to how many we really need. We have no red lights up right now and we hope it stays that way."

Those who are hoping to volunteer, or are looking at becoming a sponsor can email the committee at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Meanwhile, He says the tickets for the games have been going quickly and those who want seats close to the action should act quickly.

"The main update today was the fact the tickets are going well. If you want to reserve a seat you should get your seat now. Although there's 650 left, they're not all premium seats. There's some that are down lower so if you want to get a good seat you should get it now."

Patsack's also been looking into the economic benefits of the RBC Cup. He's been taking the time to look at economic reports in communities that have previously hosted the event. He says the event in Dauphin resulted in an economic spin-off of just over $1.1 million, while the 2013 RBC Cup in Summerside, Prince Edward Island resulted in approximately $1.5 million in economic spin-off.

"There's a huge economic spin-off for the city and for the RM. There's hotels and gas stations in the RM, not just the city. It's going to be a great event and the biggest thing is it's going to give us the opportunity to promote the city, the RM, and our community."

He notes TSN typically also films a profile of the RBC Cup host city. He says they'll be working with the RM and the city to help discuss what areas should be highlighted in the promo.



people sydney taylorSydney Taylor shares her experiences with Portage Rotary

Portage's Sydney Taylor had an opportunity to share her experience at the Adventures in Citizenship event in Ottawa back in May, during the Portage Rotary Club's weekly luncheon meeting this week. The opportunity was funded through the Portage la Prairie Rotary Club, and she says she was immediately interested after hearing about the trip from of her teachers.

"It was just the fact I could go to Ottawa and be on my own for five days, to be able to meet 200 people and experience what we have in Canada."

She says one of the highlights of the trip was the chance to take in a citizenship ceremony. She says it was very emotional, and called it an eye-opening experience.

"It made me feel so lucky and grateful. We don't understand what we actually have. Everybody cried and everybody had tears in their eyes because all of the little kids were jumping up and down, excited to become Canadian citizens."

During the trip, she also had a chance to visit the Parliament building and Ottawa University. She says it was exciting to visit Canada's capital.



people stephanie BEVACQUACommunity Outreach and Fundraising Coordinator Stephanie Bevacqua

The MS Society's hoping to expand some of their programming in Portage la Prairie. Community outreach and fundraising coordinator Stephanie Bevacqua was the presenter at Portage Rotary's last luncheon meeting, and provided an update on programs offered to those in Portage living with multiple sclerosis. She says they're actually looking at expanding on one of their popular programs that's in place in the community.

"We have something called the 'Coffee Crew'. It's held once a month and I'm looking to increase it actually, but right now we have one. It's a group of people that have MS who meet the second Wednesday of each month at Season's Restaurant, we switch it up sometimes. They talk about their experience, and find out about new developments with the research and what not, so it's great."

One of the programs that Bevacqua's hoping to bring to the city will help those living with the disease get out of the house and into the community through various activities.

"We have a new program that I'm hoping to start. It's called 'Out and About'. We're going to take people living with MS and we're going to take them out of just going out to the restaurant and eating. We're going to take them out and make cacti plants in pots, and they can take those home. We're going to make centrepieces for the holidays, such as wreaths and fun stuff like that. They just get out and experience something different."

During her presentation, she also provided Rotary members an update on their research. She says they're going to be slightly shifting their focus to help accommodate more of those who are living with the disease.

"We have one treatment that's actually happening here in Manitoba. We're looking at stem cell research in terms of remyelination. That's an important key. We have previously focused our efforts on finding treatments for relapse-remitting. Now, for the other types of the kind of progressive forms of MS, we're focusing research on those areas."

She says they're always looking for support from the community. Bevacqua's in Portage la Prairie twice a month, and those hoping to help support the MS Society can call her at 204-988-0904.



Karen Lambert of the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba, Portage la Prairie branch, spoke to club members during Tuesday's meeting about the stigma of Alzheimer's Disease and how they can get educated. (ROBIN DUDGEON/PORTAGE DAILY GRAPHIC/QMI AGENCY)

Karen Lambert of the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba, Portage la Prairie branch, spoke to club members during Tuesday's meeting about the stigma of Alzheimer's Disease and how they can get educated. (ROBIN DUDGEON/PORTAGE DAILY GRAPHIC/QMI AGENCY)

The Portage Rotary Club heard from Karen Lambert from the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba, Portage la Prairie branch, at Tuesday’s meeting where she talked to members about the stigma of Alzheimer’s disease and what they could do to help.

“Stigma it’s embarrassing and it’s hard for people to accept and to deal with. If a person has cancer or diabetes or heart disease it’s talked about but if a person has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia people tend not to talk about it,” said Lambert following the meeting. “(It’s) denial or just a protective attitude that they don’t want people to know there is something wrong with this person’s brain or the way they are thinking.”

She feels the solution to the stigma is to educate the public more and to teach those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia that it is nothing to be ashamed about.

“It’s a disease like any other disease. Find out the facts, learn as much as you can, and don’t be afraid to talk about it with people so that they can understand that it’s okay to have dementia,” said Lambert. “They didn’t do anything to catch it.”

Locally there are many support groups that offer help to those caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease.

“In Portage here we have one that’s 9:30 a.m. the third Thursday of each month at Douglas Campbell Lodge, there’s another at 5 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month also at Douglas Campbell Lodge,” said Lambert. “That’s open to anyone – family or friends that are caregivers. It’s a support group just for them to be able to vent and share of the things they are going through. The good and the bad.”

There are also support groups in the rural areas: in Treherne the first Thursday of every month; in Gladstone the second Thursday of each month; and in MacGregor the third Wednesday of each month.

If someone thinks that they have Alzheimer’s disease or know someone that might have the disease it is best to speak with a family doctor about your concerns.

“Take note on what some of the symptoms are and what some of their concerns are. Make an appointment with their doctor, share these thoughts with them, and get the person totally checked out,” said Lambert. “Sometimes early signs of dementia can be caused by something that’s acute that’s treatable. Don’t panic that it’s a dementia, rule out everything else first.”

The Memory Walk for 2013 will be taking place in Portage la Prairie on June 5 and in Gladstone on June 13. Other dates in the area will be announced soon.

For more information visit or call the North Central Region office in Portage la Prairie at 239-4898. Office hours are Tues. to Thurs. 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Jenn Bach, Kim Wilton, Charles Morrison and Robin Dudgeon of the Plap City Rollers roller derby league took the time to present to the Portage Rotary Club, Tuesday afternoon, about their league and the upcoming bout season which begins on May 11 in Brandon. (ROBIN DUDGEON/THE GRAPHIC/QMI AGENCY)

Jenn Bach, Kim Wilton, Charles Morrison and Robin Dudgeon of the Plap City Rollers roller derby league took the time to present to the Portage Rotary Club, Tuesday afternoon, about their league and the upcoming bout season which begins on May 11 in Brandon. (ROBIN DUDGEON/THE GRAPHIC/QMI AGENCY)


The Portage Rotary Club heard from members of the Plap City Rollers roller derby team during Tuesday’s meeting where they discussed the newest sport emerging in the city.

Referee Charles Morrison and skaters Jenn Bach and Kim Wilton, who skate under the derby names Chuck Morris, Lynn Detta, and Kim-Jong Wheels respectively, spoke to the club about the history of their league, some common misconceptions about derby, and their upcoming bouting season, which begins on May 11 in Brandon.

The league was started in the spring of 2012 and there are currently about 12 women on the team, which is called the Headstone Honeys.

Bach said what attracted her to the game was its aggressive and competitive nature. She has gained many things since joining including both social and physical benefits.

“It’s been amazing. First and foremost it is amazing exercise. My cardio and my body strength have improved tremendously in the last year,” said Bach. “I was new to Portage la Prairie two years ago and so I didn’t really have a lot of involvement with the community and the roller derby team has really allowed me to be a part of the community and learn more of what’s out there. It’s been really nice to have the opportunity to be a part of something.”

She added she often gets asked some pretty interesting questions when people find out she is involved in the sport such as if it is staged or if players are allowed to punch each other.

“To answer those: no it is not staged it’s like any other competitive sport we go out there and play our best and hope for the win; in terms of whether or not we can punch each other no that is not the case,” said Bach. “It’s like any other sport. There is some body contact that is allowed and there is other body contact that isn’t allowed. It’s a matter of staying within the confines of the game.”

Kim Wilton noted that since the sport was revived in Austin, Texas about ten years ago the sport has continued to grow all around the world including in the province of Manitoba.

“It’s been growing and growing. It seems every month there’s a new league starting up. I know there is talk of one starting up in Turtle Mountain in Manitoba, which is great. It gives us more people to skate against,” said Wilton. “I think it’s growing because like I say it’s just a lot of fun to play, fun to watch and it’s just a good time.”

Both skaters agree that anyone thinking about coming to a bout should certainly do so as the game is very exciting, easy to understand, and fun for people of all ages.

“It is going to be exciting. If you’ve never seen roller derby in person before you are about to be surprised. There is no sport like it, you will never go watch a sport that is quite as exciting as watching roller derby,” said Bach.

“I think they will be impressed with what a great sport it is to watch, how dynamic it is, and how you get involved and really rooting for things,” said Wilton. “We’ll have a halftime show and I think it will really just be good entertainment. It’s going to be that American-Canadian banter – who is going to take the game.”

Anyone who would like to get more information is encouraged to email or visit the league on Facebook at Plap City Rollers.



TSFRC on the move

Cathy Vanstone, executive director of the Tupper St. Family Resource Centre, came to speak to the Portage Rotary Club, Tuesday, about the big move the centre will be making to the old bingo hall at the end of March. (ROBIN DUDGEON/PORTAGE DAILY GRAPHIC/QMI AGENCY)

Cathy Vanstone, executive director of the Tupper St. Family Resource Centre, came to speak to the Portage Rotary Club, Tuesday, about the big move the centre will be making to the old bingo hall at the end of March. (ROBIN DUDGEON/PORTAGE DAILY GRAPHIC/QMI AGENCY)

Tupper St. Family Resource Centre will soon have a new name and a new location once it moves at the end of March.

Along with a new location at the former Portage Sport and Cultural Association (PSCA) bingo hall the Tupper Street Family Resource Centre will have a new name, the Family Resource Centre – Parenting Families in Central Plains after they make the move on March 25.

“Our programs are remaining in operation right up until the week before we move. We wanted to move in a way that had the least disruption to our clients as possible. We have no programs the last week of March because of Spring Break week but we will be working hard in moving,” said Cathy Vanstone, executive director of the Tupper St. Family Resource Centre.

Making the move along with them will be the Child and Family Services of Central Manitoba Family Enhancement program who will make the move prior to that date and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Portage la Prairie who will make the move on March 27.

The move was one Vanstone said was much needed to allow the centre to run programs and allow more families to take part.

“Two things intersected: one, our lease was up, and two, was our need for a larger space. The opportunity to purchase the building that we’re moving to was presented and we are able to move into it,” said Vanstone. “It’s exciting. The space will be very user friendly and allow even larger groups to participate in some of our programs.”

But the work is far from over once they are in the new building as there is nearly $200,000 of renovations that still need to be completed.

“Certainly, the work is going on. It will be ready for us to move into but all of us are working together to do the fundraising related to the renovation costs. All of us are collaborating on that as it is greatly needed,” said Vanstone. “Some of the fundraising is done through foundations and through groups that share our mandate. However, we will continue to seek support from our community partners – that includes other agencies, that includes businesses, that includes individuals and service clubs.”

Vanstone notes that the centre has had amazing support from community in the past and she hopes those relationships continue as things move forward.

To make a donation come to Tupper St. Family Resource Centre at 20 Tupper St. or call (204) 857-9011.




Source of Strength Making A Difference At PCI.

rotary girls feb262013

A student based peer program at P.C.I. School in Portage la Prairie is providing youth an outlet of support. Members of Sources of Strength, spoke to members of the Portage Rotary Club yesterday about the initiative. S.O.S utilizes the power of peer social networks, to prevent suicide, bullying and substance abuse.

Jen Kostuchuk is one of the students who has been involved with S.O.S. right from the beginning. She says it has a very important message. "If you bottle it up for too long, you're going to have a point when you just have to talk to someone and that's why we're here. We really want to be able to be there and know that you can talk to us. We are trust worthy people and we want to help you as much as we can, in the way that we have been trained."

Student Katie Burke has been involved, right from the start and says the effort is making a difference, as she sees that more young people understand what Sources of Strength is all about and are opening up to their peers and adults about sensitive issues. She says it's wonderful to see the project having the desired effect. "Everybody struggles with something and being a part of this group you see more people. You hear about other peoples stories or people, they notice you and they come and talk to you and you can help more people." says Burke. "I think it's very positive for our school."



Doug Kit, safety sales specialist with Acklands Grainger, holds an AED.

Doug Kit, safety sales specialist with Acklands Grainger, holds an AED.


The Portage Rotary Club learned about automated external deliberators (AED) on Tuesday from Acklands Grainger Safety Sales Specialist Doug Kit.

“We’re getting a lot of requests from companies about more information about AEDs because of the publicity about the public law, so we thought it would be a good idea, because it can save thousands of lives every year that’s why we thought it was important to do the presentation,” said Kit.

The province of Manitoba passed legislation in December 2012 requiring the installation of AEDs in high-traffic public places such as gyms, arenas, community centres, golf courses, schools and airports by January 31, 2014.

Kit’s presentation gave background information on the device, how to use it, as well as, the cost and when it should be used.

According to Kit, Acklands has sold more than 200 devices since the province passed the new legislation.

“We sold a lot last year when were starting to get the word out on AEDs and legislation certainly kick started a lot of newer business,” said Kit.

Kit said devices retail between $800 and $1,500.



Dave Patsack, co-chair for the 2015 bid to bring the RBC Cup to Portage la Prairie in 2015, spoke to the Portage Rotary Club, Tuesday, updating them on the bid's progress. (ROBIN DUDGEON/PORTAGE DAILY GRAPHIC/QMI AGENCY)

Dave Patsack, co-chair for the 2015 bid to bring the RBC Cup to Portage la Prairie in 2015, spoke to the Portage Rotary Club, Tuesday, updating them on the bid's progress. (ROBIN DUDGEON/PORTAGE DAILY GRAPHIC/QMI AGENCY


The Portage la Prairie Rotary Club heard from Dave Patsack at Tuesday’s meeting where he discussed Portage’s bid for the 2015 RBC Cup.

Portage la Prairie is currently facing off against Cobourg, Ont., which is 90 kilometers east of Toronto, for the chance to host the upcoming hockey competition.

“We are feeling pretty confident right now, we have no reason not to. We’ve got a great facility, we’ve got a great team, and a great community with lots of experience,” said Patsack. “We haven’t had any negative feedback from Hockey Canada and everything we’ve brought has been positive. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Patsack, who co-chair the bid committee, submitted the bid last month. Hockey Canada now has to evaluate the bids before making its final decision in May.

“We may have to go to Hockey Canada or they might come out here. There will be a site inspection and we will make a presentation to them as well as to what the budget and the whole program will be about. They’ll also to go Colburg and here the same thing from them and then take that information back,” said Patsack.

The presentation should include a sales pitch promoting the city of Portage la Prairie and also will lay out a projected budget.

“Basically, it’s a sales pitch as to why we should have it. We will highlight the fact that all the teams will be staying within seven to ten minutes of the arena; we’ll talk about having lots of junior hockey teams within an hour and a half of Portage so we’ll have a fan base for support; we’ll talk about the facility itself being new and state-of-the-art; and also our rich history of community support in regards to our successful hosting of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts (and others). We have a real strong history of success,” said Patsack.

The projected budget for putting on the 2015 RBC Cup is $580,000 along with a projected revenue of $680,000. That leaves $100,000 which will be distributed to the five teams playing in the cup as well as out in the community.

Each of the five teams taking part in the Cup will receive $10,000 each, that will leave $50,000 which Patsack’s committee plans to send out into the community.

“That is going to be divided up 30 per cent going towards a scholarship for a Portage Terrier graduate who is continuing post-secondary education; 30 per cent of the profit is going to go back to the PCU Centre to be used for facilities and a bidding pool; 20 per cent is going to go to Portage Minor Hockey to development programs; 10 per cent is going to go to the BDO Centre to help it as a third ice surface; and 10 per cent is going to go to Arron’s Chance 2 Play,” said Patsack.

The only thing the bid committee can be sure of is expenses. The rest is based on ticket sales, sponsorship funds, and of course the help of many volunteers. But the affect the cup will have on the community is priceless.

“The positive impact on youth coming to see that type of hockey being played, I don’t think you can really put a dollar value on that,” said Patsack.


Ken Keith, executive director of Central Plains Inc. (CPI) spoke to the Portage Rotary Club, Tuesday, where he announced the organization is now known as Portage la Prairie Regional Economic Development (PRED) to better reflect its current membership. (ROBIN DUDGEON/THE GRAPHIC/QMI AGENCY)

Ken Keith, executive director of Central Plains Inc. (CPI) spoke to the Portage Rotary Club, Tuesday, where he announced the organization is now known as Portage la Prairie Regional Economic Development (PRED) to better reflect its current membership.

The Portage Rotary Club heard from Ken Keith at Tuesday’s meeting where he discussed changes coming to Central Plains Inc.

Ken Keith, executive director of Central Plains Inc. announced that the economic development agency would be changing its name to the Portage la Prairie Regional Economic Development (PRED) Inc.

“There has been a fair bit of wonderment I suppose on what’s happened to CPI. I heard a lot about CPI for over 40 years and suddenly they are not there – not taking press interviews, the website is down, all that kind of thing,” said Keith. “It was more of wondering what is happening to our economic development representation.”

Things really changed after funding from Manitoba Agriculture, Food, and Rural Initiatives (MAFRI) withdrawn in 2012. At one time CPI served as many as 16 municipalities in the Central Plains region but now only serves the RM of Portage la Prairie and the City of Portage la Prairie. The new name better reflects its current membership.

“It just so happened that the city and the RM have enjoyed longstanding collaboration. They have long seen the need to get that economic development back to the left and go forward and advance to get into the new economy that we experience today,” said Keith.

Along with a new name has come new goals and priorities – to become the number once centre in rural Manitoba for small and medium sized businesses. PRED also wants to focus on business development, engaging the local business community, retaining businesses in the area, and marking the region to attract new businesses.

“We have many, many short term goals but we can’t accomplish them all right away. Each one that we have fits in with our long term strategic plan so everything we do really needs to fall in line,” said Keith.

Three short term goals for the 2013 years are to: engage businesses and offer them services to start-up or expand; establish a business advisory board; and to market the region properly.

“Council and businesses alike really see the need to take or receive comments and opportunities for the business community and sit down with the voice of the community from time to time and this is going to go a long way to help organize it,” said Keith of the establishment of a business advisory board.

Among his marketing priorities is to encourage Portagers to shop local.

“I mentioned that there are 20,000 residents in this community. That’s a pretty large internal market. I can’t fault the average person for going into Winnipeg and enjoying themselves but I think that there is a fair bit of leakage where residents could be buying local and supporting their community,” said Keith. “When they do that it also generates business owners to stock more of what is in demand and become sharper. I think there is a huge opportunity for that. Not to say that we shouldn’t focus on bringing business from outside but start working on what we have already.”


Wayde Drain and Margaret Lesperance spoke to the Portage Rotary Club, Tuesday, about Toastmasters in Portage la Prairie. The club meets once a week at the Portage Collegiate Prince Charles Building to help participants improve their public speaking and quick thinking skills. (ROBIN DUDGEON/THE GRAPHIC/QMI AGENCY)

Wayde Drain and Margaret Lesperance spoke to the Portage Rotary Club, Tuesday, about Toastmasters in Portage la Prairie. The club meets once a week at the Portage Collegiate Prince Charles Building to help participants improve their public speaking and quick thinking skills. (ROBIN DUDGEON/THE GRAPHIC/QMI AGENCY)

The Portage Rotary Club heard from Margaret Lesperance and Wayde Drain at Tuesday’s meeting where they talked about the Toastmasters Club.

The Toastmasters has been running in Portage la Prairie for the last 33 years where it teaches people better public speaking skills and how to think on their feet. The meetings average four to six people with around 12 people in the club right now.

Toastmasters meets on Monday evenings (except holidays) at 7:00 PM at the PCI Prince Charles School. All adults are welcome to attend.

“It’s a small group and I like the constructive criticism that they do. When you do a speech they say this is what you’ve done good, here’s some room for improvement, and you end off with what you’ve done good again,” said Wayde Drain.

For Drain among the most important skills a person can learn from Toastmasters is confidence.

“I thought, what do I need this for? I’m a farmer. But there’s always a situation where you are going to be put on the spot or you’re going for a job interview. You don’t want to go to a job interview and be all stammering and humming and hawing and you’re stuck for answers,” said Drain. “That’s where Toastmasters really shines, and that’s what employers really like because they see the confidence in you. They see the confidence in your hand gestures, your movements, that’s Toastmasters.”

Margaret Lesperance has been in Toastmasters for nearly 20 years and now refers to herself as a lifer.

“I love it and I think it’s a good thing. I love the people that it attracts – it attracts people that want to better themselves, want to better their community, their relationships,” said Lesperance. “It’s just good all around. It makes better citizens, better communities, and a better world.”

In the near two decades she’s been with the club she has noticed many changes in herself.

“I think maybe self-confidence, I think maybe I’m more assertive. In an organization or a gathering I want to talk to people whereas before I would hesitate. I feel more forward,” said Lesperance. “Everything that happens in Toastmasters is a learning experience.”

To get more information call Wayde at 239-7001, visit or come down to a meeting and try it out.




Mar 31, 2015
Apr 07, 2015
Douglas Barril
PRED - Portage Regional Economic Development
Apr 09, 2015
Apr 14, 2015
Apr 21, 2015
Joyce Schrader
Red Cross Provincial Coordinator
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