Honour 150 presented by Canada Life, this week recognized 150 people from across the province who stand out for their role in making Manitoba such an amazing province.
Nominated by people in their own communities in 2020, these (“meet” all 150 Honourees here) 150 individuals range from teenagers to centenarians and represent the diversity of Manitoba. With volunteer engagements ranging from the arts to the environment, from health to education, these 150 Manitobans are recognized for helping make Manitoba exceptional.
Honourees receive a commemorative medal designed and created by Manitoba artist Takashi Iwasaki.
In addition, Canada Life will make a $500 donation to the charity of each Honouree’s organization of choice.
Students from Red River College’s Creative Communications Program conducted interviews in early 2020 and wrote short biographies of each recipient, with a little help from volunteer mentors.
Tirelessly improving health, safety, and well-being
Written by Red River College student: Rosanna Hempel
Charlie Clifford’s relatives, teachers, and councillors in his youth inspired him to give back to Portage La Prairie, despite experiencing many hardships.
Clifford is a retired teacher and principal who has devoted himself tirelessly to advocating for and improving the health, safety, and well-being of his community through the Canadian Mental Health Association, the First Presbyterian Church, Habitat for Humanity, Sunset Palliative Care, and many other organizations.
When Clifford suffered a stroke in 2010 while volunteering to rebuild houses in Texas, he learned to talk and walk again with the help of his family and community members. Clifford inspires stroke survivors through monthly discussion groups and workshops at the Stroke Survivor Support Group in Portage La Prairie where he serves as the chairperson.
“A lot of people have helped me along the way,” said Clifford. “It’s nice that people do recognize that I have made a contribution — but that’s not why I did it. It certainly has been good for my life, for my family.”
“Through the years, Charlie has positively impacted the citizens of our community, improving their quality of life by the many hours he has dedicated to volunteering and serving on boards,” said Ian Wishart, MLA for Portage La Prairie, who nominated Clifford.
Clifford will undoubtedly keep making a difference to many people in Portage La Prairie.
A community agent of change in support of Syrian families
Written by Red River College student Ricky Yusishen
When two Syrian families in Portage La Prairie needed support in 2015, Auna Marie Brown called on her community, and her community came through. She and her Trinity United Church congregation sent out invitations to other churches and community groups. Together more than 80 people formed the Portage and Area Coalition for refugees and raised $110,000 for two families.
“We can’t just close our eyes to the suffering when we can help,” Brown said.
For more than 45 years, Brown has made a huge difference working with a wide range of organizations including United Way, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Society for Manitobans with Disabilities (now Manitoba Possible), Trinity United Church and Portage Women’s Shelter to name just a few.
Brown believed strongly in the power of mentoring to help children reach their full potential, and in the importance of one-on-one relationships to support the most vulnerable citizens in her community and across the province.
Brown was also a massive resource for people who wanted to help others. Her friends say she was always available with advice and mentorship for those just stepping into the world of volunteering.
“We need to give people the opportunity to help,” Brown said. “What I found is if you go to people and you ask them to help, people step up to the plate, they always do.”
Sadly, Auna Marie passed away in late 2020. She will be missed.
A big part of her small city
Written by Red River College student Tanner Banas
There is a reason Portage la Prairie’s Yvette Cuthbert was the Portage Chamber of Commerce Arts and Cultural Person of the Year in 2016. A talented artist, Cuthbert’s series of 150 paintings honouring Canada 150 have made their way into galleries across Manitoba. The 58-year-old has brought her talent and passion for the arts into her hometown community through organizing Celebrate the Night and Culture on the Crescent events for Culture Days in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
“Culture Days is about celebrating what Canadians have fun doing. Who we are when we’re not working or going to school,” says Cuthbert.
Although a British Columbia native, Cuthbert has spent most of her life in Portage la Prairie. Cuthbert dedicated much of that time to build the small community into one with a big personality. In addition to serving over 20 years as a school trustee for the Portage la Prairie School Division, Cuthbert also volunteered at the Herman Prior Activity Centre, Portage Community Revitalization Corporation, and many other local organizations. Today, she still finds time to use her passion for arts and culture to help bring her community together.
Cuthbert believes building something together, whether that’s a local playground or a work of art, and bonding over it as a community is important. That’s why she dedicates much of her time to these initiatives.
“Whether it’s over a meal, music, a piece of art, or building something, all the walls come down. We learn about each other as people. Race, religion, economic status, gender – all of those things fall away when we come together to create,” says Cuthbert. “To me, that’s what’s important.”