Ace Burpee's Top 100 Most Fascinating Manitobans for 2016: Part 3
This is the final installment of Ace Burpee's selection of the great people doing fantastic things in our province.
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This is the final part of my 2016 list of fascinating Manitobans — I hope you enjoy reading about what the people around you are up to — it's pretty incredible and inspirational.
32. Boogey The Beat: Born Les Boulanger, Boogey is an Anishinaabe DJ and music producer with massive talent. He’s racked up hundreds of thousands of plays/views online and has emerged as a major talent on the pow wow step scene. His work is incredible and fresh, give him a listen.
31-29. Bobby Desjarlais, Anders Erickson & Kyle Erickson: Together they are Attica Riots, one of the best bands in what is still and forever an outstanding local music scene. They released one of the best albums of 2016 (Love Sunshine and Hysteria) and their single Misery is perfection. One of the best live acts around as well. I’m a huge fan.
28-27. Derek Yin and Himanshu Sharma: Aged 17 and 16 respectively, these two Fort Richmond Collegiate students captured one of the most prestigious prizes in Canadian high school science this year. They created the EWalker, which is a digital system of sensors on a walker designed to both speed up stroke recovery and make it safer. Of 480 finalists at the Ernest C. Manning Innovation Achievement Awards at the 55th Canada Wide Science fair - only eight are awarded a medal and cash prize. Derek and Himanshu were two of them.
26. Annemieke Farenhorst: Dr. Farenhorst is one of North America’s leading experts in research on the environmental fate of organic chemicals in soil and water. She was on another list this year, being named one of the 100 most powerful women in Canada.
25. Jordan Rogodzinski: Jordan has one of the coolest shows online. He’s the host of The Jordan 411 Sports Show, and has welcomed the likes of Hall of Famers Doug Brown and Milt Stegall to his set. He’s only 17, and is living with cerebral palsy. Jordan is always (ask his guests) very well prepared, does his research, and has a real gift in getting his guests to open up and talk candidly. I’m a big fan.
24. Danielle Doiron: A recent Red River College Creative Communications grad, this year Danielle became the first woman ever to do play-by-play of a professional baseball game. She put on the headset and called a Goldeyes/RedHawks game on a Saturday night this past September. Very, very cool.
23. Elder Mae Louise Campbell: She is an elder-in-residence at Red River College and the keeper of Winnipeg’s Grandmother Moon Lodge, which provides spiritual healing services to women in need. This year she was one of only two Canadians to receive the prestigious Inspire award for culture, heritage and spirituality.
22. Kelsey Wog: We have another local swimming star. Kelsey had already broken three Canadian age records in the pool by age 17. She started swimming for the U of M this year, winning three golds and a silver at the Canada West Swimming Championships and was named rookie of the meet. She’s fast and has a great career ahead of her.
21. Wanda Koop: Has had a remarkable career as an artist. One of the most celebrated in the country for her work, be it in paint, video, performance or photography. She’s a member of the Order of Canada, and this year received the Order of Manitoba. She also founded one of the true gems in Winnipeg: community art centre Art City. Again, a remarkable career.
20. Chief Betsy Kennedy: She became the chief of Manitoba’s War Lake First Nation in 2006, making her the longest serving female chief in Manitoba. Chief Kennedy received the Order of Manitoba this year for her contributions to the health and welfare of her community and for her commitment to the environment.
19-18. Amanda Schubert & Velna Hovi: It will go down in history as one of the greatest hockey games ever played. During the Canada West women’s university hockey playoffs, the U of M Bisons and Saskatchewan Huskies played five overtime periods before the game ended in a 2-1 Manitoba win. That’s 139 minutes of hockey, or 2 and 1/3 games. It’s the longest ever played in the conference. Hovi scored the winner, and Schubert made a ridiculous 66 saves for the win.
17. Joanne Gutknecht: You just never know how life is going to turn out. Joanne has such a cool story. Growing up in Ashern, Manitoba, she was a standout in both English and science. She chose science against the urging of university English professors to switch to writing. She never did, and pursued work up north with Arctic Co-Op. Years removed from being tempted to pursue writing, something sparked her. She heard an ad for the 25th annual International Radio Playwriting Competition, and decided it was time to take her shot. The play (Playing with Fire), about the stress of a wildfire speeding towards a community, was chosen by the BBC out of 1000 international entries.
16. Natalie Bell: Blogger, podcaster, influencer, and an all-around super fun and kind person, Bell has merged her lifestyle and making a living as well as anyone via her Peg City Lovely brand.
15. Jeremy Senaris: Represented Winnipeg on season three of MasterChef Canada and finished as (a very close) runner-up to winner Mary Berg (who was also super cool). Senaris is a massive talent. I’ve enjoyed some of his culinary creations first hand and they’re ambitious, original and delicious.
14. Connie Walker: Took on the role of CEO of the United Way of Winnipeg a couple of years ago after the retirement of Susan Lewis. Lewis, who has been on this list, held the job for nearly 30 years and is one of the most amazing and respected women in the history of Manitoba. Walker has done an exceptional job in not only keeping the United Way a life-changing organization, but moving it forward this year clear with a clear three-year plan that all current and new United Way supporters can get excited about. She’s awesome.
13. Hijab Mitra: I find architects fascinating, period. Hijab focuses largely on sustainable, community-designed projects. Her latest and perhaps greatest design is Marie Rose Place, an affordable housing unit for single, at-risk immigrant women. Marie Rose Place currently provides housing to women from 15 different countries. Look forward to what Mitra will have in store for Winnipeg in the future. Very cool.
12. Jeff Ryzner: One of the greatest mentors in Winnipeg for young entrepreneurs, start-ups, dreamers and doers. Jeff is the president of North Forge Technology Exchange on Innovation Alley, which is fuelling and advising some of the greatest minds and idea in this town. Winnipeg is on the map big-time when it comes to tech, brilliant ideas, and fabrication. This can’t happen without the leadership of people like Jeff Ryzner.
11. Jodie Layne: A force locally and nationally as a rights advocate for women and the LGTBQ community. Layne created Safe Spaces, combating street harassment, empowering women, and training numerous organizations on making safer spaces. I’ve heard her speak, and she’s tremendous. She also spearheaded the BRAVE program, working with young men to combat violence against women.
10. Jackie Anderson: Has dedicated over 10 years of her life to promoting Indigenous culture and tradition through the Anishinabe Pride Basketball program. She developed the program for inner city youth and built it around the teachings of love, respect, wisdom, humility, truth, honesty and bravery. She’s also a voice for ending sexual exploitation of Indigenous women, and has spoken in front of the House of Commons on the matter.
9. Shahina Siddiqui: She’s an educator, spiritual counsellor and writer. Since arriving in Winnipeg from Pakistan four decades ago, she has worked Tirelessly to support refugees and bring communities together. Siddiqui is a co-founder and current President of the Islamic Social Services Association (ISSA). ISSA played a major role this year in supporting the Syrian refugees who came to Manitoba. She has been a founding member of a number of national and provincial organizations, including the Canadian Muslim Women’s Institute, Canadian Muslim Leadership Institute, Interfaith Council of Women and Federation of Canadian Muslim Social Services. Her bio is amazing. This year, Siddiqui was recognized as the 2016 Canadian Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year in Manitoba.
8. Heather McCormick: She’s the co-founder of Manitobah Mukluks. I own a pair. They’re awesome. Her company is one of the fastest growing in the province, with more than 200 per cent growth over five years and providing employment for more than 60 people. McCormick also volunteers with the Aboriginal Literacy Foundation, has served on the Social Planning of Winnipeg board, currently sits of the board of the Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre board, and much more. She’s a businesswoman, a mentor, role model, and just simply an outstanding Manitoban. Continued success to you.
7-6. Tyler & Lisa Klassen: It was a horrible year on Manitoba highways. A crash took 16-year-old Tyler’s life just two days after he got his license. He had also, however, signed up to be an organ donor that same day. Tyler’s organs helped save the lives of 45 other people in vital need. His mother, Lisa, spoke of the loss so beautifully saying, “I’m losing my child, I’m devastated, I’m broken, but my child is going to be saving 45 lives at the same time so my heart is full of joy.” Amazing. Thank you Tyler for your gifts.
5. Jesslyn Janssen: This is incredible. Jesslyn is 19 years old. Fueled by the personal loss of her grandfather to Alzheimer’s, Jesslyn taught herself about the neuroscience behind the disease and conceived the idea of a biosensor that could potentially detect Alzheimer’s early onset. There was no funding for the project, so she raised the money herself and worked with scientists from the U of M to help make this biosensor a reality. Again, she’s 19. What a brilliant woman.
4-3. Lisa Muswagon & Karmen Omeasoo: Responded and reached out immediately to the community of Pimicikamak after a string of youth suicides. Muswagon is from the area and graduated from Otter Nelson River School, Omeasoo is a gifted hip-hop artist performing as Hellnback. Together they organized youth forums, live shows, and brought hope, love, and understanding to a community that really needed it.
2. Jerry Maslowsky: One of the most caring and kindest people I’ve ever worked with. If you met him even once, you considered him a friend. His passing this year hit Winnipeg hard, and he will celebrated and remembered lovingly forever in this town. All the best to the Maslowsky family and thank you for sharing him with us.
1. Kristen Hiebert: One of the most heroic and amazing stories ever. Kristen Hiebert’s car went off the road in rural Manitoba in January. It flipped down a steep bank by a bridge. It was in the minus 20’s, and it was dark. Kristen suffered multiple broken bones and was knocked unconscious, while 4 year-old daughter Avery was unharmed. She woke up, managed to pull her daughter from the car, and kept her warm all through the night to keep her alive. Somehow, after more than 10 hours, she pulled herself out of the ditch. I stopped at that bridge (near-ish Killarney) this summer, and it’s impossible to fathom how someone with countless broken bones and major frostbite could possibly have pulled that off. She lost the lower part of both her legs protecting her daughter, but they are both alive. Against all odds. Just an amazing, heroic woman.