Rotary Club of Portage la Prairie

Club Information

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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
District Site
Venue Map


Kristi Perrin, exchange student

A Portage exchange student to Belgium just returned home, and shared her experiences at the Portage Rotary Club this week. Kristi Perrin explains why she chose Belgium.

"I originally wanted to go to France. That was definitely my first choice. I had been wanting to go to France since the 9th grade. That was a really strong desire for me. For me, I really wanted to learn French, which was my first objective of going on exchange. And I went to apply in grade 12, and I was too old to go to France to get a student visa. They don't want anybody over the age of 18 as of August of the year you're going, and I was turning 18 in May. So I was about five months too old. And Belgium takes older students. Belgium was my second choice."

Perrin shares her perspective of the biggest differences she found between Belgium's culture and our own.

"The biggest difference was probably the way that people act. I think the people are a lot more closed at the beginning. But they open up a lot easier once you win their trust -- once you really prove to them that you're a friend -- they'll be willing to do anything for you. I think that's the biggest difference -- the way they act."

She adds her highlights included traveling around the region.

"Definitely visiting all the surrounding countries -- that was a big highlight for me. I really wanted to travel. I really wanted to see different cultures. I went to nine other countries other than Belgium. Another highlight was meeting all the exchange students that I got to meet -- three hundred other exchange students from all over the world. If I ever decide to travel again, I'll have houses to stay in and friends to visit all over the world. I got to see Belgium, I got to see what the culture was like  in Belgium -- all the different monuments, all the different cities. I got to have a relationship with my host families. My host families became my real family. For me it was a great bond I had with them, my host siblings as well -- going to school, living a normal life as a Belgian."



Past president Craig Bennet presents newly inducted president Shannon Moffat with her Rotary pin. The Rotary Club executive formally changed over at the club's meeting on June 30, 2015. (Johnna Ruocco/THE GRAPHIC/POSTMEDIA NETWORK)

The Rotary Club of Portage la Prairie has a new president as Shannon Moffat took over the duty from outgoing president Craig Bennet at the club's meeting on June 30.

Moffat joined the club three years ago after taking almost a year to decide is she wanted to sign on.

I did a lot of research and came to a lot of meetings and spoke to a lot of the people and just looked into what they did internationally, what they did in the community, what they stood for, and I wanted to make sure that that fit with what I believed in,” Moffat said. “I didn't want to join a club just to say I was part of a club.”

She said Rotary is an amazing group of individuals and Moffat has enjoyed her time in the club and on the executive, of which she's been on almost the entire time she's been part of the club.

I've learned a lot and there's still a lot of learning and growing and I'm really confident that this group of people, the executive, will help me to lead them and lead our club into a great year.”

With new leadership comes new ideas, and Moffat has several ideas she wants to put into motion.

Rotary does a lot on the community, and it's not going to change. This year what I would like to do is really focus on the club as a whole,” she said.

She wants to not only focus on increasing their membership, but also the diversity of the membership.

Different age categories, different job categories, there's a perception that you have to be in the business world in order to be a part of Rotary and we want to change that, because that's not true,” Moffat said. “That perception is not a fact – anyone can be a part of Rotary.”

That ties in with another focus of Moffat's, which is to bring the club more into the community.

Rotary is here and we are a club, we're made up of a lot of really unique individuals that are going towards the same goal, but my goal is to bring all of that forward to the community, let people know who the people are behind the Rotary symbol, so to speak,” she said.

While Rotary has been fantastic over the past few years at fundraising for different projects, Moffat would like to see more hands-on work as well.

We want to get more hands-on, not that we haven't been, but we've done a lot of fundraising, we've done a lot in the community as far as helping to fund projects. One of the goals we want to look at this year is to actually get out there more and to help with the hands-on type of thing.”



The Home and Away Draw held by the Rotary Club of Portage la Prairie and the Portage Plains United Way took place at Canad Inns.
Matthew Newham is president of the board for the United Way, and says the fundraiser was a great success.
"We're very grateful and we're very excited at the results here -- $6,000 on each side that will go toward helping our community, along with our ten agencies as well. We just want to say a very big thank-you to Portage Rotary for partnering with us. And we had a lot of fun with it. You know, the funds are going to stay in our community, which is absolutely huge."
Jeff Dubois is co-chair of the Home and Away Draw, and names the winners.
"I'm very excited that we just had the final two prizes of our Home and Away Draw. We gave away a $2,500.00 Total Travel gift certificate, and I want to thank Total Travel for being a sponsor and working with both of us on this draw. And the winner of that was Sheldon Verspeek. And he has $2,500.00 to get away somewhere. And then we drew for a $5,000.00 Rona gift certificate here in Portage. And the winner was Roger Jackson."
Dubois adds, "I just want to thank Rona and Total Travel for partnering with us, and we're very excited that we partnered with United Way. And the money that we raised -- there was just over 1,100 tickets sold. And the proceeds will be split between Rotary and United Way. And Rotary will use those to the projects they are putting toward like the Disc Golf and Rotary Republic Park."


people nancy neufeld jun022015Nancy Neufeld, F.A.S.D. diagnostic coordinator for Southern Health-Santé Sud

Research and information about fetal alcohol spectrum disorder was the theme at this week's Rotary luncheon in Portage la Prairie.

Nancy Neufeld is F.A.S.D. diagnostic coordinator for Southern Health-Santé Sud, and was one of the presenters. She notes she shared the complexity of the process of referral assessment.

"I think what I was trying to summarize is that it's really a complicated process to go through the whole referral assessment, and trying to ensure that the youth or child who does receive an F.A.S.D. diagnosis is accessing appropriate help and appropriate resources. And just understanding that the diagnosis is really not a label, it's to help us understand the child better."

people nancy neufeld2 jun022015

Neufeld says the Rotarians were very interested.

"I just really appreciate that there's an interest and that they're willing to listen. Really, help is only going to come from understanding. If people have an understanding of what the diagnosis is about, they're more able to offer the best assistance or the best help, and what will really help that child and that youth. It requires patience, it requires understanding, it requires trying different things. There's likely going to be a lot of trial and error in supporting that child or youth into really being as successful as possible."


John Olfert, COO of the Winnipeg Jets, was the main speaker at the Rotary Club and the Portage la Prairie Chamber of Commerce quarterly joint meeting at the Canad Inns on May 19, 2015. Olfert spoke about the journey of bringing the Winnipeg Jets brand back to Winnipeg. (Johnna Ruocco/THE GRAPHIC/QMI AGENCY)
John Olfert, COO of the Winnipeg Jets, was the main speaker at the Rotary Club and the Portage la Prairie Chamber of Commerce quarterly joint meeting at the Canad Inns on May 19, 2015. Olfert spoke about the journey of bringing the Winnipeg Jets brand back to Winnipeg. (Johnna Ruocco/THE GRAPHIC/QMI AGENCY)
The Rotary Club and the Portage la Prairie Chamber of Commerce teamed up once again for a combined luncheon meeting at the Canad Inns on May 19.
First up was Portage-Lisgar MP Candice Bergen, who highlighted business-friendly measures from the federal budget released in April.
“Obviously the chamber of commerce here in Portage, together with the Rotary, provide strong leadership in much of the community, so I wanted to be able to speak to the members who are creating jobs here in the Portage la Prairie area,” Bergen said.
“I wanted to highlight some of the top points, especially the way that we're cutting taxes, obviously for families, for individuals, for seniors, but for businesses, because businesses create jobs and it's frustrating for businesses, small businesses, when their taxes are going up and they're trying to hire people and reinvest in the business and look at new ways to do what they do.”
She said the federal government is committed to cutting taxes, and she hopes the province will keep taxes low as well so they're not raising them at the other end.
She also spoke about flood compensation and mitigation programs the federal government has, which are issues the chamber has been looking at since July 2014 and recently brought to the Manitoba Chambers.
“(The chamber is) also driving some really important issues like making sure that flood mitigation is happening and making sure it's top of mind for the province,” Bergen said.
There are four main components where the federal government helps with help flooding under the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements.
“We have to date paid the province $335 million for the 2011 flood. The province has to initiate receiving that money though, they pay out the costs, they send the federal government the receipts under DFAA and we pay up to 90 cents on every dollar.”
There are three other main programs, two under the Building Canada Fund and a stand alone flood mitigation program.
“Again, whereby the province and/or municipalities can apply for funding for things like types of infrastructure for flood mitigation, mapping, and a couple of other categories to help mitigate flooding which we know can happen in Manitoba and has happened,” Bergen said. ”We have these programs that are I think tangible, the province does need to apply and I'm sure they're looking at all of them right now and hopefully are getting those in.”
The main speaker of the lunch was John Olfert, COO of the Winnipeg Jets, who spoke about the efforts of bringing the Jets' brand back to Winnipeg. It was important for Olfert to speak in Portage as the area is a part of their community.
“The MTS Centre was built as a community facility, it's not a Winnipeg facility only, we value all our customers coming from across Manitoba and hence you'll see a lot of marketing material we make reference on a regular basis to community-based and Manitoba wide participation,” Olfert said.
The presentation Olfert gave was initially intended to communicate the elements of change, but he later realized it's a relationship based presentation.
“Whether it was relationships with lenders or with the league or with sponsors, it's a relationship based business and again I give a lot of credit to our full and part time staff who invest their lives into this building and into the operation,” Olfert said. “Its unique hours in the fact that when people go home and they come and have fun, that's when we start working again, so I give a lot of credit to our full and part time staff.”
There was no single element that helped bring the NHL back to Manitoba.
“There's certainly the elements or the transition that's happened over the course of the economics of the NHL and the collective bargaining agreement, but I would argue that the building of the MTS Centre, the embracing of the brand by our community, at all levels, from ticket buyers to sponsors, to lenders, to owners, its been a community-wide ownership of the team, and as a result there's been a fair amount of success and we're grateful for that.”

mickey cuthbert2 may262015Mickey Cuthbert, treasurer of board of directors

The Glesby Centre's history and current needs were presented at yesterday's Rotary luncheon in Portage la Prairie. Mickey Cuthbert is treasurer of the board of directors and shares the presentation.

"I just wanted the Rotary to get a little history of where we were, where we are now, what kind of events we put on, and how we are always in financial difficulties as with any other arts organization. And I was hoping they would see it as a community support, to support the Glesby Centre."

Cuthbert notes the Centre's history.

mickey cuthbert1 may262015

"It really started in 1992 when Bill Glesby donated his bowling alley to us. In 1998 we built the theatre addition and opened our first show in December. The city took over the building in 2005, and now we have managerial rights to it. So, we manage the building and everything that goes with the building."

She adds one of the Rotary members shared how Portagers are unaware of what we actually have in our city.

"Tom McCartney was mentioning that so many people in Portage do not know what a jewel we have in the William Glesby Centre. And I would love to urge everybody to get out and check it out, because we're lucky. Not every town in Manitoba has such a good place to go. And the William Glesby Centre is a local community place for entertainment, music and theatre. Rather than go to Winnipeg, spend your money at home."

Cuthbert notes there would not be such a financial difficulty if more tickets were sold to their events. She says ticket prices include $32 for one main stage show, and one coffee house show is $18. You can receive big savings by buying a season ticket package for five main stage shows for $130, and four coffee house shows for an additional $55. That's $185 for nine shows.  Cuthbert encourages you to come on down and check them out.



people rebecca ulrich joyce schroeder apr212015(Pictured left to right) Rebecca Ulrich, Joyce Schroeder

The Red Cross is joining forces with the Portage Family Abuse Prevention Centre to combat abuse.

Rebecca Ulrich is provincial education manager for the Red Cross. She explains the purpose of the partnership.

"The Red Cross partnered in Portage with the Family Abuse Prevention Centre on the Harmony project. We work together to bring training to community leaders to prepare them and give them the resources to educate children, youth, and adults in the community about creating healthy relationships."

Ulrich notes how Harmony found out about their national program.

"While they were exploring their different options, or whether they would develop their own program, they learned about the national program with the Canadian Red Cross. So, that's where the partnership started. The program I focus on is called Respect Education. It looks at violence and abuse prevention in areas like child abuse prevention, dating and domestic violence prevention, as well as bullying prevention."

Joyce Schroeder is Portage Family Abuse Prevention Centre executive director, and notes how she heard about the national program.

"On my original Harmony steering committee, I had some teachers from the high school who, when we realized what we were going to be doing as one of our activities, referred me to Rebecca at Red Cross. She, right from the get-go, was just so eager. And she has been instrumental in making that activity very successful for us in this community in helping us reach youth."


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.


July 2015


Jul 28, 2015
Rotary Club
Club Activities
Aug 04, 2015
Murray Mclenahan (Preston)
Portage la Prairie School Division
Aug 11, 2015
Aug 18, 2015