Jennifer Laviolette

Jennifer Laviolette

A newly formed community organization is bringing unique fine dining on a local level and raising funds for community projects. The Guest List recently held their first event in the community and it was a huge success.
“The Guest List is a grassroots community non-profit organization that was founded by myself, John Chartrand, Emily Doucette and Alexis Yahnke,” said The Guest List member Gabrielle Swan. “It began as an opportunity to bring people in the community together for unique dinning experiences locally, but evolved into an opportunity to support larger community projects, all of which will be spearheaded by the founding members.

Businesses and entrepreneurs are often challenged with maintaining a successful business and putting for an expansion of some kind. Most who are successful in business, love what they do or have a real passion for it. Former Valley resident, successful photographer and body image activist Teri Hofford has spent quite a few years living her dream. Hofford had a bustling boudoir studio, awards and accolades from some well-known photography communities, speaking at engagements and workshops all around the world and creating work that challenged the status quo. Although it was all Hofford could dream of, inside she was feeling overwhelmingly exhausted,
alone, stressed and unable to ask for help. Her fear of resting led her to believe her business and accomplishments would fail or fall behind. This led to her exploring and challenging the beliefs set forth by the hustle culture, which
is very similar to the diet culture, that has deprived so many people’s bodies of what they needed the most.
This has opened up a new door for Hofford and it’s one she’s going through, without letting anything hold her back. “Over the last three to four years I’ve been building up the education side of my business to work with photographers and other creatives on how they can make their business more inclusive, that way there can be more progress,” said Hofford. “As one person I can only do so much, but I figured if I could teach people what I know, then the more impact we can have to make sure others understand they are worthy of being photographed and that we start seeing bodies of all types.
“In building that up, while running my photography business in 2018, I hit a bout of burnout and the worst depression I’d ever had. I’ve never experienced depression before that. It was going on a trip to Norway and not remembering anything about the trip that was the revelation moment that something needed to change.
“That’s when I went back to school for positive psychology and learned all about the mindset behind it,” said Hofford. “What I realized most was a lot of creative people create businesses they are passionate about and want
to make a change in the world, but they are also human and don’t recognize the toll it takes on themselves personally to do it.
“I started to shift my work to include mindset work because, ultimately, body image is mindset work as well. That’s where I’ve been heading for the last four years. This type of work that is done in the empowerment world is so
important, but the people who do this type of work are usually empaths.
They are givers and often don’t give to themselves. I want to make sure I can help others build sustainable business practices, even if it is not in photography, so they incorporate that into their model and not run the risk of burnout.” During the pandemic, Hofford faced a lot of similar pressures and anxieties many entrepreneurs had. Most were unable to continue their business or services the way they had normally done due to public health restrictions.
This led to Hofford challenging herself in new ways and as a result, she published a new book. “This book actually came out of the pandemic, because I wasn’t able to utilize my creativity or purpose to the extent I was used to,” said Hofford. “I couldn’t photograph clients as a part of my normal business, so I had to challenge myself with a task. I decided to go with taking a new self-portrait every day and also writing a personal post or story to go along with it.
“That’s when I really started to notice that one of my gifts was through my own honesty and humility, I was able to connect with people. I gravitate to following my intuition on things, such as what to post and when to do that. This became a self-practice to dig up some old stories and talk about how I’m working through them or how it relates to business creativity or body image.
By being able to condense it down, it made people feel more seen, heard and understood in their own mindset or what their brain was telling them. A lot of times, people felt they couldn’t open up and share those thoughts and
feelings with others. This led to people suggesting I put this into a book. “Essentially 2,200 Characters or Less is a compilation of 2,200 different posts I had on Instagram and the whole intent was to put out there all the things
that make us human, the parts of ourselves that we feel aren’t great or have shame about, how can we move through it,” said Hofford. “That’s the premise of this book.” Lived experience is becoming something that more people are connecting with when it comes to personal growth and recovery. There’s something about reading or listening to someone who has gone through something similar to what a person is experiencing, that has a positive and inspiring
effect. Hofford has been able to channel this energy to help those going through similar situations that she has encountered or is going through.
“Every time someone shares their story, it’s going to be easier for someone else to share theirs, which is why it was so important for me to put myself aside when I had these thoughts,” said Hofford.
“I know there are a lot of people who have stories they want to tell, but their fear gets in the way. The way I would get myself to share my writing, is to remind myself that my passion for helping has to override the fear of
whatever I’m feeling. “When I keep that in mind, that it’s not about me, it’s about the people that are going to read this, or the one other person in the world that this is going to greatly impact, the more honest it’s going
to be.
“Which is why we are seeing a lot of pushback from people who hate change,” said Hofford. “This is a little too dramatic or feelsy for them and it’s scary and contrasting to the way these people have always been. The more we do
this, eventually they will get on board or the movement will happen whether they like it or not. I focus more on who I am helping, not who is offended by what I’m sharing.” Looking back at 2022, letting go has been one of
the biggest achievements Hofford has been able to do. She felt that she was tied to all these titles and her studio in order to be successful. Once Hofford embraced that these things don’t define who she is or her work, she
was able to take her work to a new and higher level.
“This past year I feel that one of my biggest accomplishments has been being able to walk the talk, so to speak,” said Hofford. “I’ve always been a believer of one following their dreams, but I was holding on to having a studio and
being just a photographer. I had become so attached to all these identities that I created for myself and this past year, I proved that I don’t have to be attached to those. 
“I’m growing, changing and adapting, and that has been my guiding principle. I want to be a role model for those who want to try something new, but are afraid to or letting things hold them back. I had to detach myself from all
these things I thought Ihad to have to be relevant, valued and successful.” 
Hofford has set another goal for 2023 and is focusing on healing. “For this coming year, I would like to personally focus on healing,” said Hofford. “After putting myself in a state of chronic stress while I was building my photography
business, my body took a toll. Now I have to show more appreciation for my body through movement, rest, and nourishment. I also want to heal relationships that I didn’t keep up with while I was running my business and other
aspects of my business. Healing is going to be the theme for this coming year.
“I also hope to reach more than just photographers with my mindset and body image work. I want to expand to anyone that is ready to do the work in challenging their body image and mindset, which includes breaking down
biases and beliefs.”
Hofford’s new book, 2,200 Characters or Less is available to order online or through her website.


With the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) still at the forefront, there is a need now more than ever for Indigenous female role models and advocates to come forward to spark change. An Indigenous female advocate, from Sapotaweyak Cree Nation (SCN), has been creating a movement through her actions that speak to the issues Indigenous women are facing today.
“I’m from SCN and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe,” said Chante Speidel. “I currently reside in Saskatoon, where I am studying at the University of Saskatchewan. I plan to graduate in Spring 2023 with my Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Studies. I currently work at the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority as a Human Resources Assistant.”
Speidel started as a youth entering Indigenous pageants as a means to advocate for MMIWG. With each pageant she entered, a new opportunity presented itself and she was able to further establish herself as an advocate and role model for Indigenous women and girls.
“In 2017, I was 15 years old vying for the title of Miss Manito Ahbee,” said Speidel. “This title is a youth ambassador role to advocate for MMIWG. Every four years the Manito Ahbee celebration selects a family that lost a loved one to this reality and honours them by sharing their story and allowing the youth ambassador to represent them.
“In April 2022, I was in the Miss Indian World Pageant in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This title is a chance for young Indigenous women from ages 18 to 25 to showcase themselves as a cultural ambassador. This pageant is showcased at the largest powwow in the world. I received Second Runner Up in the pageant.
“In October 2022, I ran for Miss He Sapa Win at the He Sapa Wacipi in Rapid City, South Dakota,” said Speidel. “This title is for women ages 18 to 25 to run as a cultural ambassador representing the Oceti Sakowin –Dakota, Nakoda and Lakota peoples also known as the Seven Council Fires. I received First Runner Up in this pageant.
“I ran for Miss Manito Ahbee because I had a passion for being an advocate, especially in regards to MMIWG. I ran for Miss Indian World and Miss He Sapa Win because of my passion to be a leader, advocate and demonstrate myself as an Indigenous role model. I always wanted to run, these roles are prestigious in Indigenous communities.
“I got involved because in Indigenous communities for young people there aren’t many leadership titles; more are coming along now, but I have always been interested in leadership and speaking,” said Speidel. “My parents are leaders and my Kunsi (grandma) is my hero. They all have been in many leadership roles and I guess from observation and travelling with them to speak, dance or sing, they have inspired me to do it too.”
Participating in the pageants has helped Speidel stay connected to the issues many young Indigenous people are facing. She has also built bonds with other contestants to create a very close network.
“In pageant I have learned about what other young people are doing and connected with the girls very closely to create a sisterhood,” said Speidel. “Now I have over 30 sisters all over Turtle Island creating change, being leaders and cultural ambassadors. It was an experience I will never forget. I have always aspired to be the women who held these titles in the past.
“There is something different about the uplifting feeling you get when you are surrounded by powerful Indigenous women, who are proud of who they are and move beautifully. I’m interested though in maybe doing something mainstream such as the Canada Globe Pageant or something.
“I have been speaking forever, but was confident in my voice when I was 15 and I started to speak more often,” said Speidel. “After holding the title of Miss Manito Ahbee, I travelled more often to conferences and events across Canada and the United States. After about three years of doing that I had to focus on school, so I slowed down, but also COVID-19 happened.
“I started to join youth councils and committees in Saskatoon and National boards. I was just eager to keep speaking and getting practice. Now I’m an Office of the Treaty Commissioner Speakers Bureau member, and use this service to get organizations and councils to book me for presentations. I got into speaking after holding the title to continue advocating. I just didn’t want to stop being an advocate, because my reign was over. I still feel that way, I have to keep speaking and doing the work to initiate change and make a mark. I always felt that was my duty on earth, to speak and lead.”
Recently Speidel was asked to be the keynote speaker for Cultural Conversation: The Legacy of Indigenous Womanhood and Culture, hosted by the Saskatchewan Health Authority. This was an excellent opportunity for Speidel to share her experiences and to get the message out to others.
“The presentation went great and I loved the questions I received and the energy I felt when I did it,” said Speidel. “I talked about my perspective of culture and womanhood, using a Lakota prophecy story, Pte San Win- White Buffalo Calf Woman and medicine wheels translated into Lakota. Talked about the resiliency and dynamic of Lakota culture and womanhood. I shared history and connected it to colonial issues that have impacted the traditional ways of doing things for all Indigenous people. I then got into the topic of MMIWG2+.
“I shared the story of Lorna Blacksmith, the young woman I represented while being Miss Manito Ahbee. I talked about the history and factors that lead to sexualization, racism and discrimination of Indigenous women, which also are factors to MMIWG and violence towards Indigenous women. Because I know it is important to stay hopeful, I shared Chris Scribe’s Framework to Change, an eight-step process to create change in the community. My last slide was dedicated to Indigenous women heroes and leaders.”
With the recent news of a serial killer in Winnipeg murdering four Indigenous women, it’s hard to not feel the pain. Speidel knows the threat towards Indigenous women is real and that the need for change, in terms of creating safe places for Indigenous women, is greater now than ever.
“Hearing this news hurts, but yet does not surprise me, for we are unfortunately used to this treatment,” said Speidel. “Everyday Indigenous women walk with targets on their backs in society. Walking to your car alone at night is scary. Even walking around the city in daylight is scary. You never know the situations and possibilities that could happen so a lot of us live in fear. We have extra safety measures and avoid doing certain things. It has impacted our choice of clothing or recreational activities, I can speak from experience I will not go anywhere without anything showing even if it is hot outside.
“This issue is real; we live in fear every day. When I log into Facebook, my timeline has at least five missing posters or a family members' post announcing their loved one has been murdered. That is the reality of being Indigenous today.
“In regards to this news, I feel that this shows that Indigenous people are in need of allies and support,” said Speidel. “They need to investigate these cases and murders like they are human beings. We deserve an investigation and attention from the media on this case. Every social system should have training on truth and reconciliation, and the calls to justice for MMIWG enforced for all employees. No more numbers and statistics; we are people. We are missed, we have people who love us, and we have people who mourn our death. It is time for this issue to be treated as such.”
Speidel hopes to continue her advocacy work once she has completed her education and through her business.
“My plans are to transform curriculum,” said Speidel. “I definitely want to work with curriculum developers to create accurate Indigenous content with my Indigenous studies degree. I also aspire to expand my business, Techa Oaye, to support Indigenous youth in becoming leaders through hosting conferences and events to cater to mentorship for Indigenous youth. I also plan to use the business to go into Indigenous communities to develop language plans and strategies to bring back our languages for Indigenous youth.”


Wednesday, 21 December 2022 10:52

Tri-Community Pride hosts 2SLGBTQQIA+ workshop

In an effort to create a more inclusive and safe community for 2SLGBTQQIA+ individuals in the tri-community area, Tri-Community Pride hosted a free workshop at the beginning of this month. The Rainbow Resource Centre came to The Pas and delivered a workshop called 2SLGBTQQIA+ Awareness, Inclusion and Affirmation, with a question and answer period after.
Tri-Community Pride held two major events so far this year to help create more awareness and inclusion for 2SLGBTQQIA+ individuals.
“Our two largest events this year would have been our drag show and our Pride parade,” said Tri-Community Pride Parade member Derrick Sanderson. “Within the drag show, we had a group from Saskatchewan come out and there were a total of 10 drag performers. We did an early family friendly show and then later an adults only type of show. They both went off very well, with both shows almost filling the Legion Hall. We were very happy with the turnout and people seemed to be as well.
“We weren’t associated with the high school’s drag show that took place also this year, but we were very impressed to see that the tri-community had two drag shows.

Wednesday, 21 December 2022 10:51

Low Budget Rock Star releases third single

It’s been a year of losses and growing for local band Low Budget Rock Star. Going through the loss of their drummer, Richie Cudmore has been a trying time, but there is a silver lining. Low Budget Rock Star released their third single, More Than Ever, last week and it features the talents of Richie.
“My late song writing partner and band mate, Richie, and I wrote this song,” said Low Budget Rock Star’s Kennie Henderson. “At the time some of us were going through our own issues such as relationship problems and feeling lost, and these experiences gave inspiration to this song.

A petition has popped up on calling out Margaret Barbour Collegiate Institute (MBCI) for creating a strict rule about students not being allowed to have backpacks and jackets in class and that those items must be kept in students’ lockers.
Within the petition that was sent to MBCI Principal Trevor Lane, a student had made comments about the unfairness of not allowing students to have their backpacks or jackets with them in class. Issues of carrying all the books needed was brought up and the inconvenience of having a locker located on the other side of the school from the classroom a student may be in, was another. The petition goes so far to say that if things are not changed, there will be a peaceful protest.
What seems to be forgotten in all of this is the actual reasoning behind it and the fact that this is not a new rule.
“There has been a lot of misunderstanding and inaccuracy surrounding the policy that MBCI has around not allowing backpacks or jackets in class,” said MBCI Principal Trevor Lane. “I will accept responsibility for not incorporating this policy back in to action when school started in September. This would have been brought up back then during the orientation meetings with students. I also should have gone around to each classroom and explained why this had to go back to the way it was before.

Published in Opasquia Times News

The Town of the Pas Council met last Wednesday for their final meeting of the 2022 year. With the recent amount of snowfall that has taken place in the area, council is making it a priority to focus on how to better streamline this service going forward.
“What we’re wanting to do is bring some more visibility to the whole snow removal process and by-laws,” said Town of The Pas Mayor Andre Murphy. “Our administration and public works are going to sit down and see if there’s a better way of doing snow removal. One of the biggest challenges I see is really around communication of it.

Published in Opasquia Times News
Tuesday, 06 December 2022 09:59

Asessippi Ski Resort opens for the season

The snow is here to stay and with that comes the opening of the Asessippi Ski Resort. The resort opened last weekend and staff is busy making more snow, and getting all the runs and features opened for the winter season.

“We are still trying to hire some more staff for this season,” said Asessippi Ski Resort Assistant Manager Shannon Johnston. “We are still kind of short staffed at the moment and need a few more full time liftees and people in rentals. This season our focus is to get as much terrain open and as many features as we can as early as possible. Last weekend, we were still snowmaking and opened up the Quad Chair, Bunny Hill as well as Robin’s Run with some features with the terrain park. Next our focus will shift to Triple and the Bear Chair. The Bear Chair has been a couple years since it was open and everyone is asking about it. Those are our main focuses right now and then will work on tubing. There are a couple of fun things we will have out there, such as moguls for those people who like to do freestyle,” said Johnston.

“We’re going to have the two terrain parks, as well as a big full slope style course and a ski and snowboard cross come in the beginning of the year. After COVID-19, we kind of back into full mode. The bar and food court is open and we have some new fantastic menu choices. All three stations will be running with an assortment of homemade soups, pizzas, pastas and an amazing Rueben on the menu. The Bear’s Den offers an array of espresso coffees, lattes, along with beer and wine.”

Asessippi Ski Resort has some big plans for New Year’s Day celebrations as well as some other events throughout the season.

Get the full details in this week's Roblin Review!

Tuesday, 06 December 2022 09:52

Council addresses public concerns

The issue of who will be the town’s sanitation pick-up service provider was a hot topic at the Ratepayers Meeting on Wednesday evening.

What was thought to be the difference between Roblin Sanitation’s tender and OSS’s was made public and was actually incorrectly portrayed.

“There were statements made that Roblin Sanitation’s tender was $32,000 higher than OSS and my question is how did you arrive at that amount?” asked Greg Perchaluk. “Roblin Sanitation’s tender has an amount for residential and commercial and OSS’ only had for the residential, nothing yet for the commercial, so how did Council arrive at amount as the difference between the two?” “I had said $30,000 to $32,000 was the difference,” said Misko. “I had just taken from my memory $89,000 and $119,000. Those numbers weren’t quite right.

In Roblin Sanitation’s case their amount included GST. The one from OSS didn’t, so it was closer to $20,000 on the weekly, on the bi-weekly it was about $48,000.

“We considered the way it was proposed to us, that was including the commercial pick up. Whatever wasn’t needed for the residential, those containers would be reduced and we’d have front load pick up on the other. We don’t yet officially have that number, hence why we haven’t signed a contract. At this point, we’re still looking to get confirmation on everything."

Check this week's Review for more!

Published in Roblin Review News

Every year the Manitoba Credit Unions Order of Merit is awarded to individuals who have demonstrated a significant commitment to the Manitoba Credit Union system, as an employee or elected official. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, The Manitoba Credit Unions Order of Merit was unable to facilitate a ceremony for two years. Two weeks ago, a former Swan Valley Credit Union (SVCU) Board member received the Manitoba Credit Unions Order of Merit for 2021.
“Alex Eggie’s time on the Board from 1988 to 2012, including nine years as President, was during an important era in SVCU’s nearly 70-year history,” said SVCU CEO Craig Zamzow. “Hailing from the Big Woody District, this community of people is known for their rarely matched pride and volunteerism, and included many who were founding SVCU directors in 1953.
“Alex brought that commitment to the SVCU Board and set a great example for fellow directors and managers. Alex was a key leader when SVCU decided to expand and opened a branch in Benito, purchased the Bank of Montreal branch in Swan River, and purchased three insurance agencies as the credit union diversified.
“I still clearly remember Alex explaining to new directors about the amount of time that should be invested in reviewing Board packages before the meeting to ensure everyone was prepared,” said Zamzow. “His passion for fairness, commitment to community, and willingness to ask the tough questions when needed, still help guide our leadership group today.”
Eggie was drawn into being a part of the SVCU through his interest in a grassroots collective approach to providing a need or service in the community and helping it grow.
“I was always interested in the cooperative movement and one of the SVCU directors put my name forward to be elected to the board, and that was how I got started in it,” said Alex Eggie. “I was elected in 1988 and over the years I was Vice-President for two years, President for nine years and then was our delegate from District 6 to Credit Union Central for nine years. Then after that, I served on the SVCU Board as a board member for three years after that.”
Over the years Eggie has seen and experienced firsthand, how the SVCU has grown to what it has become today.
“The growth the SVCU has seen over the years has been significant,” said Eggie. “One of the highlights was that after the difficulties in the 1980s with high interest rates and accounts that were overdue, was the fact that in a few years we were able to pay patronage dividends because we had 10 percent equity. From then, we continued to grow. We were around $40 million when I went on the SVCU Board to just about $200 million when I left.
“Along the way we acquired the Bank of Montreal branch in Swan River and opened up a branch in Benito. There was growth besides the natural ones that we acquired. We built a new building, which is environmentally friendly. We acquired an insurance group that is still active today. That was to provide better service and wealth management to our members.”
Eggie has enjoyed his time on the SVCU Board and saw many benefits that the SVCU has brought to the Valley.
“My time I spent on Credit Union Central’s Board was rewarding,” said Eggie. “I had an idea of how the whole system was performing.
Despite all the achievements we had, I will always remember best the people that I met while I was on the board.”
Eggie travelled to Winnipeg for the Manitoba Credit Unions Order of Merit ceremony, which was held on Nov. 17, at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
“It was a well-done event,” said Eggie. “The Manitoba Credit Union presented the Order of Merit to recipients for the past two years, but because of COVID-19, they couldn’t do presentations in person.
There were five members in total that received the Order of Merit.”
Other past and current SVCU Board members were also in attendance to see Eggie presented with this honour.
“I’ve learned a lot from Alex over the years and am proud to count him as a key mentor for me personally,” said Zamzow. “Being recognized in the Manitoba Credit Union’s Order of Merit is very fitting and I was honoured to be able to be in attendance for Alex’s special day of recognition, acknowledging his significant positive impact to SVCU and the Manitoba Credit Union System.”

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