Ace Burpee's Top 100 Most Fascinating Manitobans for 2014
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All year long I make notes in my phone or write myself a reminder on a piece of paper that ends up being transferred from pocket to pocket for months on end. Eventually, I sit down to write my list of 100 Fascinating Manitobans and I inevitably end up with too many.
It’s a great dilemma, I suppose, but man do I ever feel a sense of unfinished business as opposed to closure or relief when I finally hit send. There are so many deserving people doing great, interesting, clever things. I only know about a fraction of them.
Enjoy the list of 100 Most Fascinating Manitobans of 2014. Just FYI, I’ve never repeated any names on the list, so if there are some glaring omissions, chances are very good they’ve been on the list in previous years. All the best.
And now for the list!
100) Christina Munchinsky
For a brief moment in 2014, the internet was owned not by something scandalous, but by something pure and awesome. Brandon's Christina Munchinsky appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to spin 70 hula hoops on her body at the same time -- that was enough to declare her the winner of the Here's My Talent Contest. It was adorable.
99) Josh McFaddin
The owner of Haven Design is living the dream. I don't know about you, but I find few things as satisfying as working with wood. That's what Josh does, but on a totally different level. Some of the most creative, clever and classically beautiful wood accessories and furniture for a kitchen, home or cottage are being made in Winnipeg. Everything they do is perfection.
98) Sarah Cameron
97) Chris Watchorn
Chris is the mind -- and brilliance -- behind Oak and Oar clothing. They make some of the coolest stuff out there, and people are starting to notice. I'm wearing an O&O hoodie as I type this. He's also generous, giving back to numerous causes while also doing a killer job promoting his fellow designers and artists.
96) Jocelyne Larocque
The lone Manitoban on the women's hockey team that skated to gold in Sochi. Remember that gold medal game? So will we all, so will she, and so will her hometown of Ste. Anne. Forever.
95) Robert-Falcon Ouellette
He didn't win his 2014 mayoral bid, but he gained a massive following seemingly out of nowhere. He turned more than a few heads, and made people think.
94 and 93) Chris Shaw and Ben Onyshko
Chris is a catcher. Ben is a pitcher. Though they don't play ball together, but they are both from Winnipeg and were both taken in the Major League Baseball draft this past summer.
92) Blue Jay Bridge
"Mr. Bridge" to his students at Henry G. Izatt Middle School, Blue Jay takes physical education seriously and is constantly introducing new and FUN ways of keeping students moving and engaged. I remember a while back he was actually named one of the world's top three educators on Twitter, which he earned through a mix of positivity, collaboration, and professionalism. He's that gym teacher you'll forever remember.
91) Civic Election Debate
All those people that argued and debated with each other on Twitter during this past civic election: I'm serious. It was fascinating to read and proved that some people are passionately engaged. I don't know all your names, but if you think it's you then you're on the list.
90) Jae-Sung Chon
If I had any sort of talent or cool, I’d choose to be like Jae-Sung. Dude is an Architecture prof at U of M, owner of Make Coffee and STUFF group: helping, showcasing, and exhibiting emerging artists, designers and makers.
89) Taylor Demetrioff
Taylor has taken his experience as a teen struggling with mental health issues and turned it into a positive by offering hope to those in a similar place. Four years ago, he approached the Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba to pitch an idea for a summer music camp where children aged 12 - 17 could learn to play and participate in group sessions that deal with all aspects of mental health that affect teens in the Winnipeg area. He's since extended the program to other parts of the province.
88) Callie Costello
The 10-year-old founder of Callie's Backpacks, she collects needed items for Winnipeg's homeless and hands them out in backpacks. She's literally collected and handed out hundreds and hundreds.
87) Garth Pischke
Early this season, his 33rd as head coach of the University of Manitoba Bisons men's volleyball Team, Garth won his 1,240th game. He now stands alone as the winningest coach in North American volleyball history. Even more impressive: His teams have won almost 80 per cent of their games.
86) Ho Lau
In an unthinkable tragedy early this year, Ho lost his three-year-old daughter Evelyn in a car accident. In the days that followed he chronicled what would be his little girl’s "final gift to the world," writing on caringbridge.org: "We don't want to have families go through our situation we are facing. This is what Evelyn would've wanted. She is the most loving and caring person I know. Her final gift to the world is her healthy organs. She will donate as many organs as she can to help as many families as she can." A gracious act during an awful time.
85) Pam Jansen
The leading force behind several initiatives dealing with gender inequality in this city, including local and highly-successful fundraisers and awareness events for Because I am a Girl and International Day of the Girl. Pam consistently motivates and inspires change in young women.
84) Leonard Sumner
I'm far from the only one to take notice of Leonard this year. He received the RBC On The Rise award this year at the Winnipeg Arts Council Awards and was named Best New Artist at the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards. I listened to his album Rez Poetry non-stop in my vehicle from the moment I opened it. One of my favourite albums of the past few years.
83 and 82) Brian Walker and Alice Sherwin
The male and female winners of this year’s Manitoba Marathon. Brian, it should be pointed out, won the race by three minutes on a sore Achilles. Meanwhile, Alice took the prize in what was only her second full marathon.
81) Victoria Sawchuk
You've all heard the slogan encouraging you to be a blood donor: "Blood, It's In You to Give." Victoria took this to heart and has so far donated more than 300 times, selflessly saving the lives of people she may never meet.
80) Chantel Marostica
She’s funny, she’s original, and she hustles. It’s not easy to make a name for yourself in comedy, but Chantel has cut through and deserves to be funny for a living.
79) Monica Giesbrecht
The architect of the Miracle Garden at Victoria General Hospital, one of the most beautifully built and designed places in Winnipeg. Providing patients, family, and staff with an environment designed to feed the spirit and nurture emotional health, the Miracle Garden was also honoured with an award for physical access by Winnipeg's Access Advisory Committee.
78) Kish Modha
At the age of 21, while working as a wildlife conservationist in his home country of Uganda, he was exiled. Fast forward to life in Winnipeg, Kish has acted as president and chairman of the Mondetta Charity Foundation that has supported orphanages in Kenya and a school in Uganda while also serving up three million meals since 2005.
77 and 76) Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber
Finalists for this year’s Sobey Art Award - Canada's highest award for young artists, Michael and Neil are killing it. Their stuff is wicked cool. Check them out here.