Jennifer Laviolette

Jennifer Laviolette

It’s been 51 years since the tragic death of Helen Betty Osborne shocked the community. During that time, there was a lot of tension, uncertainty and injustice surrounding the case that has haunted those connected to it and even the entire community.
Through local efforts, a memorial park in memory of Helen Betty Osborne is now moving into the implementation phase. Recently town council approved a resolution to officially establish the Helen Betty Osborne Memorial Park on a significant spot that has been in the works for sometime to be established as such.

Published in Opasquia Times News

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding the loss of the number of bees across Manitoba.

Every year apiaries lose a certain number of bees over the winter months.

Many attributed it to poor weather conditions, pests and it just being part of the nature of things, but there’s also a more politicized angle to this.

“This happens every year with bee numbers,” said Wendell Estate Honey Owner Tim Wendell. “There are some people that lose a lot of hive numbers and there’s different reasons for those losses, as well as some politics behind what’s going on. One of the most notable arguments has been about bringing in packaged bees across the U.S. border and it’s been an issue for over 35 years. The Canadian U.S. Border was closed in 1987 to the importation of packaged bees for sanitary reasons.”

The pandemic has played a slight role in all of this, with beekeepers not being able to access packaged bees from other countries. The delay in flights, shipping and the fact that bees are a perishable item to transport, have impacted honey production overall. Bringing in packaged bees, also presents a variety of different challenges as well.

Read the full story in this week's Russell Banner!

Published in Russell Banner News
Tuesday, 26 April 2022 08:12

Six Tires and a Dog

“You know it’s time to travel when you start to look like the person on your driver’s license…” This is the quote that Minitonas residents Bill and Tanya Oakes use as their mantra when it comes to their travels. They started a travel blog called 6 Tires and a Dog that documents their journey from Minitonas to Aransas, Texas.
“We wanted a place for family and friends to follow along on our adventure and thought the perfect place to do this would be on our Facebook page, but we quickly realized that a lot of our family didn't have access to Facebook, so I did some research and came up with the idea of a blog,” said Tanya Oakes. “Having some sort of platform would keep everyone in the loop on where we were and what we were doing, without having to make multiple phone calls repeating the same stories. I later found out that the two could be tied together with the click of a button so we had a Facebook page and then a web page and people could choose which one they preferred to follow along with.
“We started getting messages from people we didn't know asking if we minded if they followed us so we put a subscribe option in and next thing we knew we had hundreds of people following along. I also got a message from a lady in Nova Scotia who was writing to let me know that she had just lost her husband and they loved to travel together.
The blog reminded her of their adventures and she felt it was helping her deal with the loss of him. It was so nice to hear comments and shares like that.”
The Oakes' made several stops along the way to Aransas. Each stop had an adventure all its own and allowed them to take in the sights and some good food along the way.
“We left Minitonas and headed as far as Minot, N.D., for the first night,” said Oakes. “The next day we headed south to Sioux Falls, S.D., where we spent the night with plans to take in Mount Rushmore the next morning. After we completed touring Mount Rushmore, we headed out to Kansas City, Miss., where we stayed at our first RV resort.
The next day we left Kansas City and headed to Mount Vernon, Ill., where we spent the night at another RV Park. The next morning, we headed to our first planned long stay in Nashville, Tenn. where we spent eight days. From Nashville we travelled to New Orleans, La., where we stayed for four days. From New Orleans we went to Galveston Island, Texas, where we spent 10 days before heading west down the Texas coast to Mustang Island, Texas in the Corpus Christi area. We spent a week there and decided that we really liked Galveston Island, so we headed back and spent the next two months there.”
Their plans were a little altered and the Oakes' found themselves rushing against the clock to get back, only to be met with an unexpected surprise.
“Our original plan was to head up the west coast to Abbotsford, B.C., where Billy does his spring training, but when he received his schedule, we found that we wouldn't have the time we needed to get back in time so we made a quick and direct drive back to Canada,” said Oakes. “After 51 hours, nine states, two nights in truck stops and a whopping six hours total sleep, we made it back to the border only to be told that it had been closed by protestors early that morning.”
Despite the change in plans and rush to get back to Canada, the Oakes' still enjoyed their trip and made many memories along the way. Oakes fell in love with the history and culture in New Orleans, for it wasn’t like anything she had experienced before.
“There were so many memorable things, but some of them include camping right next to the ocean,” said Oakes.
“Then seeing things that you’ve only previously read about or seen in pictures like the 38.5 km long bridge when driving into New Orleans or Mount Rushmore, seeing ZZ top in Nashville, everything about New Orleans in general. The ability to be in shorts and a tank top, sitting outside enjoying a cold beer in +26 weather in December; that is a hard one to top.
“I love listening to stories, especially in regards to a place’s history, therefore my favourite place on the trip was New Orleans. I’ve never seen one place have such a vast variety of history attached to it. Not just history, but the types of things that it actually has going on today is so interesting. An example of this would be the two types of vampires that are known and practicing in New Orleans as we speak. The guided ghost tour of the French quarter at night in New Orleans was my favourite thing on the trip.
“My next favourite place was the ocean and being able to walk across the road outside our RV resort and it was right there,” said Oakes. “Being so close that even at night with the windows closed, you could still hear the sound of the waves hitting the shore. It was so soothing. The RV resort we were at on Galveston Island had a diversion of the ocean right behind our RV, full of fish and crab, so we bought some crab traps and were able to eat as much crab as we liked.”
With the ups of travelling also come the challenges too. Looking back, the Oakes' were met with some challenges during their travels that may seem comical now, but at the time were less than amusing.
“Some of the challenges included driving through major cities in an RV and having it breakdown. Finding out that the range on the electric bikes wasn't as long as told by the manufacturer, that was a hard lesson to learn when you’re 13 kilometres from the RV resort and the battery dies. It made for a long and difficult bike ride without the pedal assist. Then it was trying to find RV resorts that weren't for 55+ or full of people, such as us escaping for the winter. Then there was infamous steel height restriction bar at the entrance to an open-air parking lot at Wal-Mart. The one we never expected, but realised was there when it began to drag on the roof tearing off vent covers, satellite cover, denting the ladder and etc. All we could do was slowly keep going forward cringing at the sounds of the bar dragging and destroying the roof and the things on it.”
“It was so interesting to see the weather, scenery and even people's accents changing every day the further south we went. There’s always something to look at and so much to explore. One of the biggest lessons we learnt this winter was that having a vehicle to travel around to explore is the most important asset to have. We lost out on a lot of sightseeing opportunities because we didn't have access to get to them. There are very few things that can be accessed when you are driving a 40 foot RV and don't have a lot of experience doing it and electric bikes can only get you so far.”
The Oakes' sampled some of the best dining they’ve ever eaten in New Orleans. The food had an abundance of flavour unlike anything in Manitoba.
“Hands down, the best food was New Orleans,” said Oakes. “We tried Muffuletta's, Crawfish Etouffee, Cajun Chicken and Andouille Jambalaya, Gumbo, crab, oysters, and Chicken Andouille Gumbo. They were all amazing. We both agreed that we have never tasted such flavourful food in our lives, to date.”
Along with amazing food, the scenery they took was breathtaking as well. They witnessed a variety of different things from the mountains, ocean, bright lights of the Grand Ole Opry and more.
“For amazing views, Mount Rushmore was definitely a favourite of ours,” said Oakes. “It’s one of those places that takes on a whole new meaning when you are standing right there in its presence. The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville; The French Quarter in New Orleans; the ocean at Galveston Island with the beach houses standing on their stilts to allow water to flow under and through without damaging them; crossing to Galveston Island on the Ferry and having Dolphins swimming alongside the ferry are just a few others.”
The Oakes' started their trek on Nov. 14, and arrived home on Feb. 11. This allowed them to spend Christmas away from home. They are already thinking of how they will make next year’s trip different and better.
“It was difficult to be away for the holidays, because I love Christmas and usually have my house fully decorated,” said Oakes. “It was the first time that we had Christmas without our kids and family. It was the quietist and loneliest Christmas ever and we both agreed that we wouldn't do it again. We will be travelling back for Christmas or making arrangements to have family join us for Christmas going forward.
“The way things stand right now, we are thinking we will try Arizona out next winter and make sure that this time we get the west coast tour in. We learnt so much from our travels this past winter, good and bad, that the next one will hopefully go a lot smoother and we will definitely be more prepared.”
To check out the Oakes’ blog, go to or follow their page on Facebook.

Tuesday, 12 April 2022 08:56

Canmark survives pandemic challenges

It’s a challenging time all around for agriculture, business and industries all over the world.

The pandemic has left a huge impact and when combined with a drought year in Manitoba and inflation, many are just bearing down and riding it out.

The pandemic put forth challenges for businesses and industries to wear masks and ensure employees were properly social distancing while on the job.

“In many ways it was business as usual for us during the pandemic,” said Canmark Family Farming owner Henrik Thomsen.

Check this week's Banner for more!

Published in Russell Banner News

Dauphin resident and ABsoluteORIGINAL artist, Patrick Paul, has been working on bringing more Indigenous art to Dauphin to help represent Indigenous people in the community.

He realized the need for more Indigenous representation in Dauphin, after he saw there was not much in the way of Indigenous art in the community.

“I’ve taken to local social media groups about trying to get some Indigenous art out in the community,” said Paul.

This week's Dauphin Herald has lots more details!

There has been much excitement surrounding a film that’s directed by Opaskwayak Cree Nation’s Steven Bignell.  The Tomahawk, was filmed just this month, and is a story about an experienced Cree Scout and a lost German boy during WWII.

“I had this idea about a year and half ago, and started to jot down some ideas for a new film,” said Bignell.  “What inspired me to write this short film, happened when I was looking though YouTube videos for Indigenous soldiers who were in the war, to see if there were any other stories with that type of concept.  I searched and found nothing. 

This led me to asking myself, why isn’t there any films about Indigenous people in the war, fact or fiction?

The Opasquia Times this week has lots more!

Tuesday, 15 March 2022 08:59

Waiting for freedom in Ukraine to prevail

The devastation Ukraine is going through is impacting many Canadians and others all over the world. Former Valley resident, Wendy van der Walt, is deeply impacted by the attack against Ukraine, for her grandparents originally came to Canada from there. “My father was a first-generation Canadian,” said van der Walt.

“His parents fled from Ukraine a few years before he was born, in the early 1930s. My father was his parent’s only child. His father died suddenly when he was very young and his mother lived far from us in Hamilton, Ont.. I understood, as a child, that my father and his mother were estranged but didn’t understand why.

“I would question my father about our Ukrainian heritage, to which he would invariably reply, with finality, ‘We are Canadian.’ All he would share was that his family had suffered greatly, were met with prejudice during the immigration process, had their name changed and never looked back.” Despite van der Walt not knowing a lot about her family history growing up, her father did immerse her in Ukrainian culture. She has many memories of spending time with him dining on Ukrainian food or taking in the language.

“The only part of his heritage that he quietly shared with me was the food,” said van der Walt. “Living in Winnipeg, he would take me out alone to different Ukrainian restaurants, quite often, and to Folklorama each year. During those special times, he would open up, share Ukrainian phrases, anecdotes and of course his love of the food with me. Like his own father, he died suddenly, very young. I wish more than anything I’d had a chance to sit with him and learn more about my family history.”

Although van der Walt has never travelled to Ukraine, it’s been on her list of places to go. Watching the horrific bombing and attacks that Ukraine has endured has been heartwrenching for her. “I was scrolling Apple News on my phone when I saw the many distressing news items about the Russian invasion and violence upon Ukraine,” said van der Walt. “I was horrified, frightened and so incredibly sad for the people of Ukraine, as well as the righteous and brave Russian people protesting the invasion.” Regardless of not knowing her family’s history very well, van der Walt feels she still has family in Ukraine today. Not knowing who they are or what they’re going through, has been on her mind a lot lately.

“I assume I do have family in Ukraine, sadly, I have no way of knowing who they are or where they live, as all of my immediate relatives have passed,” said van der Walt. “With the name change, they left absolutely no trail.

Lately, I’ve thought often about these unknown relatives and asked myself, are they afraid? Have they left their homes? Are their children and grandchildren safe?” While the turmoil has continued in Ukraine, van der Walt found inspiration in the tragedy to help give herself and others hope for the country and peoples’ future.“ When I woke up on the morning of Friday, Feb. 24, which was the second day of the invasion, I picked up my phone to check the news and was overwhelmed with emotion,” said van der Walt. “The news article that really knocked me down was a video clip of the older Ukrainian woman verbally berating a Russian Soldier.

I’m thinking that by today almost everyone must have seen this now-viral video.  “The woman approaches a group of Russian soldiers and begins to ask questions. She angrily shamed, swore at them, and called them occupants and fascists. Then she tried to give them sunflower seeds, the national flower of Ukraine, and told them to ‘Take these seeds and put them in your pockets, so at least sunflowers will grow when you all lie down here.’ She was so immensely brave to fiercely defend her home and democracy; it was absolutely inspiring. “I felt compelled to head to my shop here in Brandon and make a quilt to hang in the window showing my support for the brave people of Ukraine and their Canadian relatives loving and praying for them from afar,” said van der Walk. “My staff and I worked through the day on the sunflower Ukrainian Flag-themed quilt, and completed it in time to take it as a banner to the peaceful demonstration of support here at Brandon City Hall that evening.” The quilt not only resembles hope for Ukraine, but also has some special sentiments that van der Walt hoped to share when she created it. The quilt is not for sale but will stand as a constant reminder and symbol of hope for the people of Ukraine. “A detail of the quilt that is special to me is the fabric I used for the heart in the Center of the appliquéd sunflower,” said van der Walt. “I put out a request that day through some Brandon quilt ladies for a small piece of floral Ukrainian ‘Baba’ or ‘Kokum’ scarf fabric. I wanted it to represent how, in my opinion, women are at the center or heart of a people, as well as the most impacted by war and conflict. Brandon quilt ladies delivered, finding me a piece of fabric that had travelled over 50 years ago from Ukraine to Canada, to be sewn into a baby skirt for a new Ukrainian Canadian baby girl. “The quilt is still hanging in the shop window, and will stay there until this atrocity is over and freedom for Ukraine prevails.”

What started as a joke amongst acquaintances soon became a reality when it came to starting up a partnership and distillery in Grandview.

Since 2017, Grand Vieux Liquor Company has been busy behind the scenes working on their product line and is one step closer to getting their liquor ready for sale.

The location for the facility started out with plans to build a factory where the old recycling depot was located in Grandview. That plan was replaced when the old Manitoba Hydro Service Centre on 117 Government Road East, was on the market. In Dec. 2019, the Grand Vieux Liquor Company purchased the building and discussions of incorporating a restaurant, lounge and tasting room were had.

This week's Dauphin Herald has lots more details!

Published in Dauphin Herald News

Life with a disability can be challenging at the best of times. Limitations can add to the stigma people with disabilities face when trying to go about their daily activities or trying to find acceptance from others.

Winnipegosis resident, Alex Lytwyn has been breaking down barriers that try to prevent him from living a full and active life. Just this past January, Manitoba Possible, to help encourage others with disabilities, as well as to enlighten the general public, created a video to show how living with disabilities is possible.

The video showcased Lytwyn’s personal journey in a feature documentary style film, which was aired last week for everyone to see.

“They featured what it was like for me, to go about my life on a day-to-day basis,” said Lytwyn. “I talked about how Manitoba Possible had helped me over the years and my role as the Manitoba Possible Adult Ambassador. The organization helped me in so many ways, for example, they assisted me in getting a powerchair, which enables me to move and do more independently. The camera crew followed me around for two days and filmed different aspects of my daily life from how I live to everything I do. It was an awesome experience.

“My service dog, Fanta, was also featured in the video and I’ve had her for four years now. Manitoba Possible wanted to know all the ways that Fanta helps me to live and do things independently. She was a big part of the video.”

Get the full story in this week's Dauphin Herald!

Published in Dauphin Herald News
Wednesday, 02 March 2022 09:59

Conflict Hits Close To Home

Many of us are in shock and our hearts are heavy, with what is happening right now in Ukraine.

There’s a strong Ukrainian heritage and presence in Roblin and the Parkland area as a whole.

Many families that reside here once emigrated from Ukraine either by choice or by force. Alia Marcinkow lives in Grandview, and like many in the area, she has strong ties to Ukraine.

Her grandmother and mother were forced to leave their native country due to war.

“My baba, Stefania Pankewycz, was born in Ukraine and my mother, Mary Marcinkow, was actually born in Poland, after my grandparents were displaced from Ukraine in 1947, after WWII,” noted Marcinkow. “The Polish government enacted an ethnic cleansing of Ukrainians and forced them out of western Ukraine to Poland to segregate them. My grandparents then immigrated to Canada in April of 1966 and took up residence in Winnipeg. “Unfortunately my grandfather died not long after the family had immigrated, so my baba had to raise her five kids in a place where she didn’t know the language. She somehow managed and went on to travel the world. It’s where I get my love of travel. She always said that no one could take away your education or experiences. I think her philosophy on that stemmed from her living through World War Two.”

Check this week's paper for more!

Published in Roblin Review News
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