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The Thompson Local News Archives for 2015-11

Province announces plans for new industrial skills trades training centre in Thompson


A new trades training centre is going to be built in Thompson.


The province’s Education and Advanced Learning Minister James Allum made the announcement last week.


The facility will be built in partnership with the School District of Mystery Lake and UCN, and built close to RD Parker and the UCN Thompson campus.


Allum says the facility will house a number of trades programs including electrical, heavy-duty equipment mechanics, carpentry, and plumbing:

"This is a skilled trade centre that’s designed to provide good educational opportunities for young people so that they can take the jobs of tomorrow here in the North, and they can remain in the North and continue to build this great region of Manitoba".


MLA for Thompson Steve Ashton said this is the biggest, single investment in the school system since the early 1970’s.


Construction for the new facility may start as early as next year.


L to R: Konrad Jonasson President and Vice-Chancellor of UCN, Minister James Allum, and Minister Steve Ashton.


Northern Manitoba continues to have highest rate of teen pregnancies in province

Data found in a recent provincial report, shows Northern Manitoba continues to have the highest rate of teen births in the province.


The Manitoba Government released its annual report on ALL Aboard, their poverty reduction and social inclusion strategy. It shows Northern Manitoba had 49 live births per 1,000 females in 2013/14, while the provincial average was only 13 per 1,000.


The report also reveals residents of the Northern Health Region had the lowest rate of continuity of physician care between 2012 and 2014. Across the province 72.8% of Manitobans received the majority of their care from the same physician, compared to 56% of residents in the NHR.


Northern Manitobans also have the highest potential years of life lost. The report reveals that an average of 48.7 years of life is lost per 1,000 people aged 1 to 74. In the North, that number is almost double, at 95.5 years. The report says men, northern residents, First Nations Manitobans, and those with the lowest incomes have, on average, more potential years of life lost.


There is some good news for the North though. When it comes to community belonging, 72.6% of Manitobans in the NHR, report a sense of belonging to their local community which is higher than the Canadian average of 66.4%.


Kelsey Generating Station gets nod from Snowmobilers of Manitoba


A nomination from the Thompson Trailbreakers has given the Kelsey Generating Station an award.


A few weeks ago the Snowmobilers of Manitoba held its 5th annual Snoman Congress, where the Kelsey Generating Station got an excellence award in outstanding support by a non-snowmobile business.


President of the Thompson Trailbreakers Kelly Martens says the station has helped them out:    


"We have a designated trail there now. You can go there, if you phone ahead make arrangements, you can get food and fuel. It’s a good day, easy day ride. They’ve been really good to us, as a club, helping us out with the trail and stuff so they got recognized".


As for the upcoming season, Martens says they’re hoping to get most of the trails open by the end of December.


New for snowmobilers this year is a bright orange license plate. Martens says it’ll make it easier to spot those who are riding illegally:  


"It’s a new plate that’ll be easily recognizable. If you purchase a snopass then you get this bright orange plate, so it’ll be easy for the enforcement to see if you’re current  with your registration and snopass".


The club also has their events set for the year. On February 14th they will be hosting a Sweathearts Poker Derby, and on March 6th they have their Ride for Dad Cancer Awareness Ride. Currently they're raffling off a snowmobile. 



Child's day and tree lighting still set for tomorrow, after City cancels Santa Claus Parade


The City will be celebrating National Child’s Day tomorrow.


The day celebrates children and serves as a reminder that children need support, encouragement and respect to grow to their full potential.


Penny Brenton with Hello Parents Network of Thompson says the celebrations start at 2:30pm at the TRCC:


"There will be flu shots again this year, as well as musical entertainment, high school jazz choir and fiddlers. We’re also going to have face painting from Marcus mMercredi".


The activities were supposed to follow the Santa Claus parade but due to a lack of float registrations, the parade’s been cancelled.


The tree lighting ceremony with Mayor Dennis Fenske is still on. It'll be happening afer the Child's Day activities, at 4:30.



Woman sent to hospital after house fire on Centennial Drive

A fire early yesterday morning sent one woman to hospital.


Fire Chief John Maskerine says they got a call about a structural fire on Centennial Drive at around 1:25 in the morning:


"The loss was stopped approximately 30 minutes after we were on the scene. It’s still under investigation by Thompson Fire and Emergency Services and the fire commissions office".


Maskerine says one woman was taken to Thompson General Hospital for smoke inhalation and released a few hours later.


398 Operation Christmas Child boxes collected in Thompson


Collection week for Operation Christmas Child wrapped up this week, and Thompson shipped out 398 shoe boxes.


The boxes filled with hygiene items, school supplies, and toys, will be making their way to children living in countries like Uruguay, Chile, and Haiti.


Local organizer Laura Carter says although she’s never travelled to deliver the boxes, she has heard of stories from those who have:


"They were very excited, very grateful. They carried them home on their heads. Often they come to events and they don’t know that they’re getting a gift, so it’s quite a surprise for them".


Carter says the 398 boxes collected this year, is more than she’s seen collected in previous years.


Province to build 5 new restorative justice hubs; Mayor Fenske hopeful Thompson will get one


The province’s new Restorative Justice Advisory Council will include two residents from Thompson.


Last week, the province unveiled a new five-year strategy that expands the province’s delivery of restorative justice. The new council will give the province advice on how to implement the new strategy, focusing on programs and policies.


Thompson residents Julyda Lagimodiere and Roy Smith are 2 of the 9 people that will be on the council. Lagimodiere is the Minister of the Metis Justice Institute, and will be representing MMF while Smith joins as a representative of MKO.        


The announcement also included a commitment to create 5 restorative justice hubs throughout the province.


Mayor Dennis Fenske says the City has been lobbying for a restorative justice facility in Thompson since 2012, and speculates one of the new hubs would be located in Thompson given the City’s geographical location and demographics.


The province says the communities have not been finalized yet.


The strategy also includes funding new and expanded mental health and drug courts, establishing a restitution recovery program to help victims collect court ordered payments, improving training and building awareness, and identifying supports for chronic, low-risk offenders.


Residents warming their heart by making scarves for those who need it


Last year's Warm Your Heart, Make a Scarf.


An initiative that provides scarves to the City’s homeless for free is back this winter.


'Warm your heart, make a scarf' has residents knitting and crocheting scarves to be hung around the City. Organizer Donna Wilson tells us she got the idea thanks to a facebook post:


"Somebody had tagged me in a story from Winnipeg, where they do similar of making scarves and hanging them on trees, and somebody tagged me and said ‘I bet Donna Wilson would do this in Thompson’ so I read the story, and replied ‘I sure would’".


The initiative is now in its third year.


Volunteers knitting and crocketing scarves for this year. (Photo courtesy Donna Wilson)


Wilson says even those who don’t knit or crochet, can help out:


"People are dropping off donations of wool here at the hotel or their calling and were picking them up. So we’re asking people that knit or crochet, if they would like to help make scarves and drop them off at the hotel, that would be awesome, or if they’ve wanna drop off some wool, that’ll be great too".


Items can be dropped off at Quality Inn and Suites.


Wilson says they will be hanging the scarves on December 27th this year, and they’ve already put together over 40 scarves.


Employment First North Project looks to expand, 4 months after launch


An employment initiative launched 4 months ago has already connected employees with employers.


Employment First North Project was launched by Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre, in partnership with Vale, to address barriers northern Manitobans and northern aboriginals face.


Coordinator Brad Evenson says 33 out of 92 participants of the program, have gone through the essential skills assessment for positions at Vale:


"Out of our 33 clients that did the ESA, 29 have been accepted on further to the next stages and all that, and at this point we have 7 that have accepted direct hiring offers, we have 6 that are going into the next point program starting December 7th".


Ryan Land with Vale says the program truly reflects the spirit and intent of their Northern Employment Strategy.


Evenson says they’re looking for more employers to join the program as partners. The Frienship Centre held a luncheon yesterday to network with employers looking to become potential partners of the program.


Rehearsals go into high gear as Thompson Playhouse gets ready for newest production


Residents are getting ready to hit the stage for another Thompson Playhouse production.


This Friday and Saturday they’re performing “Rex’s Ex’s” at the Letkemann Theatre.


Vice President of Thompson Playhouse Coral Bennett, says it’s a continuation of last year’s play:


"The cousins are back. So if you were out to see The Red Velvet Cake Wars last year, this is a sequel. It is a standalone, you didn’t need to have been there last year, but it’s the fun continuing, the three cousins, a lot of our favorite characters are back and a few new ones too".


Rehearsal of "Rex's Ex's". (Photo courtesy Donna Wilson)


A lot of time goes into putting on a play. Bennett says they’ve been preparing for several months:


"The scripts come in once we agree on a play to perform. Rehearsals start usually in September and we rehearse every Monday night, and then the week before the play it’s every single night".


Tickets are $15 with half of the proceeds going to the RD Parker drama program.


Rehearsal of "Rex's Ex's". (Photo courtesy Donna Wilson)



Family of Nicholas Brophy hosting bingo fundraisers to hire private investigator


The family of Nicholas Brophy is hoping a private investigator will help them in their search for the missing man.


Brophy was last seen on September 8th and hasn’t been seen or heard from since. His sister Ashleigh Brophy says they’re fundraising for a private investigator:


"We’re just hoping that maybe something will come up that hasn’t already, or maybe they can find something that hasn’t been found already, because it’s been almost 3 months and there’s still no luck".


Last night a bingo fundraiser was held to help with the costs of bringing a private investigator to Thompson, and there are plans to do another one next month.


Ashleigh says support has been really good. She says 20-60 people showed up each time they held searches for the missing 19-year-old.


Nicholas Brophy (Facebook)


33 RD Parker Collegiate staff and students get inspired at We Day


16,000 Manitoban students had a day of inspiration at this year’s WE Day.


Held last week in Winnipeg, students got a chance to hear from a number of speakers including singer Tom Jackson, actor Henry Winkler, and motivational speaker JR Martinez.


RD Parker’s social justice group, H3, attended We Day. (Photo courtesy Amy Ricketts)


33 staff and students from RD Parker attended, including gr.11 student Priyanka Vyas:

"It’s a very welcoming event and it really inspires you, so all day long they’ll have a bunch of speakers, a bunch of performances and essentially it’s like you’re at a huge concert but it really motivates you to go out there and create a positive change in the world".


Rinelle Harper, who was attacked in Winnipeg last year, also shared her story. Priyanka says Harper had a good message:


"How she went back to her regular life was incredible. She didn’t let this incident define her as a person, and as she said at We Day, that she didn’t choose for this to happen to her but she is choosing to speak up against violence".


(Photo courtesy Amy Ricketts)


Priyanka was also one of the few students who got a “shout-out” during the event. WE Day recognized the work she has been doing, and her picture was displayed on the jumbotron screen.


Second degree murder charges laid after homicide in The Pas


Two men from The Pas are facing second-degree murder charges after the death of a man on Friday. 


RCMP officers found the 36-year-old victim unresponsive around 7:30 a.m Friday morning. He was taken to hospital and later pronounced dead. 


26-year-old Sage Cooper and 33-year-old Jamie Constant were arrested Friday evening and taken into police custody. 


They’re set to appear in The Pas Provincial Court this morning.


Movember fundraiser at Wapanohk School has teachers competing for "best mo"


Students at Wapanohk School are casting ballots in a poll that’s dividing the school.


10 male teachers are currently growing their mustaches for Movember, and teacher JJ Bujold says, staff and students are judging:


"We ask the kids to bring in a little donation, and then they buy a ballot and they vote for their favorite moustache. At the end we do a big assembly, the kids get all excited to see who’s going to win".


Teachers JJ Bujold and Alex White started the fundraiser 4 years ago. (Photo courtesy of Alex White)


The teacher with the most votes gets to donate all the money raised, to a charity of his choice.


They’ve been running the fundraiser for 4 years, collecting over $200 each year.


Teachers with students. (Photo courtesy of Alex White)


Plans to close smelting and refining operations in Thompson in 2018 isn’t new information

A presentation by Vale’s Director of Manitoba Mining and Milling made headlines, after an article was written about the mine’s impending closure in Thompson.


Mark Scott presented an operations update at the Manitoba Mining and Milling conference last week. He told delegates the nickel smelting and refining operations in Thompson would close in 2018.  


Despite that this is public knowledge a news agency wrote that the mine has “announced” their closure, causing other news agencies to follow suit.  


Vale Manager of Corporate Affairs and Organizational Development Ryan Land says the closure of the smelter and refinery was announced back in 2010. He says plans to close the refinery by the end of 2018 is not a new decision, nor does it reflect any changes to existing plans.


UPDATE: One man dead after shooting involving Thompson RCMP

An early morning shooting involving Thompson RCMP has left one man dead.


The incident happened around 2 a.m. this morning.


Police say the officer was pursuing an erratic driver. The vehicle pulled over and as the officer approached the vehicle, the driver accelerated and struck the officer.


The officer then pulled out his weapon, shooting at the vehicle. The male driver was pronounced dead at the scene, and a female passenger was taken to a hospital in Winnipeg with serious injuries.


The Independant Investigation Unit of Manitoba (IIU) say there were 3 more passengers in the car. One was taken to hospital with minor injuries, not related to the incident. The other two did not suffer any injuries. 


Police say the officer involved in the shooting was taken to hospital for minor injuries, and has since been released.


In accordance with section 65(1) of the Police Services Act, the IIU was notified, and has taken over the investigation. 



Vale shares update to industry professionals during Manitoba Mining and Minerals Convention

The 47th annual Manitoba Mining and Minerals Convention wraps up today.


The 3-day conference attracted 800 visitors to Winnipeg, including members from Vale, Manitoba Operations.


Ryan Land with Vale says it’s the industry event in the province:


"As we are still the largest mining company in the province, I think it’s important for us to have a profile there, but it’s also important for us to really serve as a leader in the industry, and share with others what we’re doing in Thompson, Manitoba. It also helps us grow as professionals and as a company too, to see what’s going on across the province".


Land says Vale employees have been involved in a number of presentations and sessions, including a technical program, and an Indigenous engagement session.


Yesterday, Director of Mine and Milling in Thompson, Mark Scott gave a presentation to delegates on an update on operations. It was a similar report to the one given to the community earlier this year, but looked at exploration and development activities, and the development horizon for operations over the next couple of years. 


Executive Vice President, Tim Friesen, of the Mining Association of Manitoba, presenting on the State of the Industry in Manitoba (Photo courtesy Ryan Land)



New document looks to make the Northern voice stronger


The City of Thompson is expected to join other stakeholders, and sign a document that will unite the North.


At Monday’s council meeting, Manager of Community Futures North Central Development, Tim Johnston, presented a declaration formed by a number of stakeholders. It outlines common values for sustainable development north of the 53rd parallel.


Mayor Dennis Fenske says stakeholders are finally getting together to speak as one voice:


"Many times, many decisions, whether it be economic development or sustainability about the North, are made on Broadway with little or no consolation, or piecemeal consultations to the actual residents of northern Manitoba. So this process I was very proud to be part of, very pleased with the input of everybody".


An official launch of the document is expected to take place before the end of the year.


The goal is to show the document to politicians, ahead of the upcoming provincial election.


Over 150 patients served since Cancer Navigation Services launched in NHR

It’s been a year since Cancer Navigation Services was launched in the Northern Health Region.


Nurse Navigator Shane MacDonald says since then, they’ve helped over 150 people who have been diagnosed with cancer:


"When someone’s diagnosed with cancer, it affects patients, families, emotionally physically, financially, and the journey is often complex, and overwhelming. The role of navigation services is to help those clients meet their needs, by helping them with informed decisions, providing guidance and support to the patient and their family during their cancer journey".


He says it’s been a positive year.


Shelly Watt, who’s the Counsellor for the program says they’ve had very good feedback from patients.  


The program is offered throughout the province, and aims to reduce the time of suspicion of cancer to first treatment to no longer than 60 days.



Governor General Exemplary Service Medal given to two Northern Manitobans

Two Emergency Medical Services Personnel from the Northern Health Region have Received the Governor General Exemplary Service Medal.


The Medals for thirty years of service were presented by Health Minister Sharon Blady


The first was to Kim Rumak who is a Paramedic in Flin Flon Cranberry Portage.  She started her career in Grand Rapids as a First Aider and became an Emergency Medical Responder, Emergency Medical Technician and recently retired at the Paramedic level in Cranberry Portage. She has also served countless hours with several community groups.


The second award went to Gary Davis who started as a volunteer Emergency Medical Responder with the Town of Snow Lake ambulance and is now employed with the Snow Lake Emergency Medical Services with the Northern Health Region.  He has volunteered countless hours with the Mine Rescue Team with Hudbay in Snow Lake and believes in community relations and public education.


Also on hand for the presentation were the Region’s Emergency Medical Services Manager Darren Baker and Regional Manager Ken Gurba.


Darren Baker, Gary Davis, Kim Rumak, and Ken Gurba. (Photo courtesy NHR)


Development Review Committee reports busy year


The Development Review Committee says Thompson is undergoing significant re-investment in businesses, owned by Thompsonites.


In their report to council on Monday night, the committee noted that 2015 has been a busy year, highlighting noteworthy projects such as 

the new co-op gasbar and convenience store, the new youth crisis centre, and Ecole Communautaire La Voie du Nord.


The report outlined strategic initiatives that will be continued into next year, which includes accelerating the process of the Yale-Newman development, and re-visiting Thompson’s zoning by-law to implement tools that will attract investment to the City.


The City will also be rolling out a new transportation branding initiative. “Thompson on the Move!” will be launched next year. The goal is to ensure that the multi-use path system, pedestrian renewal program, and road renewal projects are packaged in one long term strategy.


The report noted that new developments in addition to re-investments in current businesses are indicators that Thompson is a city worth investing in.




Spirit Way gets the attention of international media during Wildlife Conference

Over 250 people attended Spirit Way presentations at the Wildlife Society Conference last month.


Volker Beckmann with Spirit Way says the conference has resulted in conversations with a number of organizations, regarding potential projects. This includes wolf research along the Hudson Bay coast with the University of Calgary, and a wildlife film with Starland Studios.


Beckmann says there has been positive international media coverage as well.


The next steps for the organization include seeking more partners, sponsors, and funders, and help the Boral Discovery Centre become Thompson’s 3rd Manitoba Star Attraction.


Marion Morberg, Keith MacDonald, Penny Byer, Volker Beckmann, Luke Robinson, Bonnie Bishop, Colleen Smook (Photo courtesy Volker Beckmann)


JMH First Aid and CPR Training Services to help transient citizens by providing free training

A local first aid training provider will be offering free training for those who need it most.


Jessie Horodecki, Owner of JMH First Aid and CPR Training Services says she’s partnered with St. John Ambulance to offer free emergency first aid training to Thompson’s transient citizens.


She says she's seen the need for a free course first hand:

"Well I have personally come across multiple situations here in Thompson involving our transient community members and saw the need for this life saving training. Not only will this benefit those who decide to participate in the courses, [but] the community will also benefit from having more people know first aid and cpr".


The course will include CPR level C and AED training. Participants will also receive first aid kit, and a hot lunch.


The free classes will be offered at the end of the month.


NHR Medical Officer of Health says there's a syphilis outbreak in the region

Cases of syphilis continue to be on the rise in the North.


Medical Officer of Health for the NHR Dr. Michael Isaac says we undoubtedly have a syphilis outbreak:


"Last year we had approximately 6 cases in our region, and this year we’re up to about 15, so 21 cases in total over about the past year. These numbers definitely are higher than we’ve seen in the past, we usually would have between 0 and 4 to 5 cases per year".


Isaac says most of these cases are in Thompson. He says practicing safe sex is the best way residents can prevent the disease from spreading.


The NHR is also doing their part. Isaac says they have an outbreak response they're following:


"It involves communicating with our clinicians, providing some education for them because many clinicians haven’t seen syphilis in the past. It’s an old, very old disease, that we haven’t seen and is now back in our community, so we’re doing some clinician education, public education. We’re doing some enhanced surveillance, so we’re gathering more data and we’re analyzing it in different ways than we would have in the past."   


See: Syphilis cases on the rise in Thompson


Throne speech includes commitment to build new trades training centre in Thompson


The province’s NDP government gave their throne speech yesterday- the last one before next April’s election.


The NDP promise to invest $10 billion in infrastructure by 2020, including roads to connect First nations communicates such as Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation.


The speech also highlighted a partnership with UCN to build a new trades training centre, set to be located in Thompson.


Premier Greg Selinger said for Manitoba to succeed, rural and northern Manitobans have to have the opportunities to succeed.


Mayor Dennis Fenske, who was in attendance, said the skills and trades facility was mentioned for Thompson, and that plans for the facility will be moving forward. Fenske said that although a restorative justice facility wasn’t mentioned as a facility, the potential program of restorative justice is on the radar of the Province of Manitoba. He plans to meet with the Minister of Justice in the near future to discuss restorative justice facilities in our community.


Other promises include more investments in after-school programs in northern and rural Manitoba, and the launch of a new Growing Communities Fund- intended to build and renew roads, water and sewer infrastructure, and recreation centres in rural and northern Manitoba.  


Progressive Conservative leader Brian Pallister says the government has already broken promises to keep taxes low and balance the budget. He says the throne speech’s commitment to spend more money on infrastructure means another tax hike is likely.


The throne speech also promises new supports for victims of domestic violence, First Nations kids in the child welfare system, and women undergoing fertility treatment.


Inside yesterday's throne speech. (Photo courtesy MLA for Thompson Steve Ashton)



City hopes to lobby for cancer treatment and restorative justice system at AMM

The Association of Manitoba Municipalities is hosting their Annual Convention in Brandon next week.


Councillors Penny Byer, Colleen Smook, Dennis Foley, and Duncan Wong will be representing Thompson. Byer says they’ve submitted a couple of resolutions including one to lobby for a restorative justice system, for the North:


"What happens with these resolutions, they go to the conference, they get discussed, voted on and then hopefully they will proceed to the next level, which means AMM staff will now take it and lobby the province on your behalf. So the province not only hears from you, but they hear from AMM, which is the lobbying agency for municipalities, so it’s a very strong voice with the province".  


Byer adds the City hopes to speak with provincial Ministers about outstanding issues, at the convention:


"We’re strongly hoping that we can get a hold of Minister of Health, Sharon Blady to discuss the situation with our chemo and dialysis here in Thompson, also Minister of Justice Gord Mackintosh to talk about the Northern Restorative Justice Facility".


There will be over 100 Manitoba municipalities attending the conference.


CMHA Thompson collecting "Coats for Kids"

Cleaning out your closet might lead you to find “someone else’s treasure”.


The Thompson CMHA is encouraging residents to look through their old clothes and donate any winter wear to them.


They’ve brought back their Coats for Kids campaign for another year. Education and Training Program Coordinator Katherine Pohjolainen says they’re collecting coats for both kids and adults. In addition they’re also collecting winter accessories like hats, mitts, and socks.


Pohjolainen says they’ll be giving them out for free, to those who need it, throughout the winter.


Last year's Coats for Kids. (Photo courtesy Thompson CMHA)


Two Garden Hill First Nation men find out they were switched at birth, 40 years ago

Two Northern Manitoba men have confirmed their suspicions that they were switched at birth.  


Luke Monias and Norman Barkman were born in Norway House Indian Hospital on June 19, 1975. The two boys grew up as close friends in Garden Hill First Nation. As they grew older, many people noticed that they resemble each other’s family members more than their own.


During a press conference today, the province’s Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Minister Eric Robinson said Luke contacted him earlier in the year about the possibility that him and Norman were switched at birth.


DNA testing was conducted, and confirmed Norman’s mother, Rebecca Barkman, is Luke’s biological mother, not Norman’s.


The Manitoba government is now calling on the federal government to investigate how the two men were switched at the federally run hospital.



Norman Barkman (left) and Luke Monias during a press conference today.

(Photo courtesy the Canadian Press)



Operation Red Nose kicks off 17th year in Thompson tonight

A free ride back home, after a night out, is more possible than you think.


Operation Red Nose is coming back for another year. The free service provides those, who might have had too much to drink, a safe ride home in their own car.


Planning Committee Coordinator Tony Taylor says they have their kick-off for this year's season, tonight:

"We’re going to kick off the season. It's 6:30 at Lakeview Inn and Suites, and well have a few people on hands to say some words, we’ll name our honourary chair, and then just be on hand to answer questions about what the seasons all about, how people can apply, all that kinda stuff. Basically give people details about the season".


Although the service is free and run by volunteers, they accept donations which are given to organizations in the City. Donations have gone to the Boys and Girls Club and the Troy Anand Fund in past years.


Taylor says they’re still looking for volunteers for this year.


This is the 17th year in a row the service is being offered in Thompson.


Niki Ashton takes on role as NDP economic critic

Churchill-Keewatinook Aski NDP MP Niki Ashton has been appointed to the party’s economic critic area of Jobs, Employment and Work Force Development. 


Ashton, who was critic for Aboriginal and Northern Affairs in the last Parliament, indicates that this critic area is of great importance to her riding and across Canada. 


She says there are many regions like northern Manitoba, that face high rates of unemployment and they need to make sure that the new government creates good jobs and real economic opportunities for Canadians.


Ashton says she will be working with NDP leader Tom Mulcair and fellow NDP MPs to fight the unfair Trans-Pacific Partnership that will cost Canada thousands of jobs.  At the same time she adds they will be putting forward positive progressive ideas to create jobs, ranging from infrastructure to social enterprise with the key area of focus on apprenticeships, training and employment insurance.


Ad-hoc committee formed to address students engaging in illegal activities at TRCC

The TRCC seems to have become a hot-spot for illegal activities by students.


At a recent School Board meeting, Chairperson Trustee Leslie Tucker said the City and the School District are forming an ad-hoc committee to address the issue of students smoking illegal substances on the property of the TRCC. Trustee Ryan Land added that students have been engaging in sexual activity at the facility as well.


City Councilor Penny Byer told us the TRCC does not have staff to constantly monitor the property, and that bathrooms can’t be locked because there are people using the facilities.


She says the ad-hoc committee hasn’t had their first meeting yet so it’s too soon to say what potential solutions will be explored.


Vigil held for Gods Lake First Nation woman

Dozens gathered at the Manitoba Legislature last night for a vigil for Krystal Andrews.


The 23-year old woman from God’s Lake First Nation was found dead on Monday at an isolated area of the community.


Those who gathered sang songs, and gave words of support for family and friends of Andrews.


RCMP have called her death suspicious, and are investigating.


Krystal Andrews (Facebook)


Manitoba Phys. Ed Teachers Association recognizes 2 Frontier School Division teachers

Two Frontier School Division teachers have been recognized by the Manitoba Physical Education Teachers Association.


Last month the association held their annual awards night, which saw physical education teachers Florencio Castillo and Michael Knox walk away with awards.


Castillo teaches Physical Education at Berens River School. He joined the division in 2009, working at Leaf Rapids Education Centre. He received the Interlake Regional Recognition Award.


Knox teaches Physical Education at Norway House. In addition to receiving the Northern Regional Recognition Award, he also received the Young Alumni Award from Davis and Elkins College, which is presented to a young alumnus who shows promise in their profession.



Phys Ed. Coordinator Brian McMillan                     Phys Ed. Coordinator Brian McMillan

presenting award to Florencio Castillo.                 presenting award to Michael Knox.

(Photo's courtesy of MPETA)


Date set for this year's Christmas Parade

The 5th annual Christmas Parade will take to the streets of Thompson on November 28th.


In conjunction with National Child’s Day and the City of Thompson tree lighting, the day will see the parade start at 2pm, followed by activities at the TRCC.


The parade route is to remain the same as last year, with the parade starting at Cree Road and Hemlock Street, and floats making their way to the TRCC.


Although the parade has been held every winter in recent years, 2011 saw the first Christmas parade in the City in over 50 years.


2014 Christmas Parade


Unique program turning students and people in the workforce, into pen pals

A career development coordinator here in the North has found a unique way to connect students with people in the workforce.


Alyssa Harman who works for both Mystery Lake School Division and Frontier School Division says it’s through the art of penmanship:


"The pen pal project is kind of a new, creative way to be able to connect our gr. 5 to 8 students, that are living in more isolated communities, with various career opportunities that are around them within the province and around the country".


Harman says the students write letters to someone in the workforce, asking them about their career, and they get a letter back. She says the students have enjoyed writing the letters.


This is the first year the program has been tried out.


Harman says some places the students are from include Gods Lake Narrows, Falcon Beach, Bisset, and Stevenson Island.


Thompson firefighter places 25th out of 600 firefighters at World Firefighter Combat Challenge


Thompson may be home to one of the best firefighters in the world.


Darrick Graff, who’s been with Thompson Fire and Emergency Services since 2011, recently competed in the World Firefighter Combat Challenge.


He placed 25th out of close to 600 firefighters who competed.


Darrick Graff at the World Firefighter Combat Challenge. (Photo courtesy of Darrick Graff)


He tells us about the competition:

"Basically it’s an obstacle course based on job related tasks that we perform. So we wear our full turnout gear with breathing apparatus, and we carry a 45 lb hose pack up 6 stories, then there’s a hand over hand rope hoist- that’s another 45 lb that you hoist up. And then you come down the tower and there’s a forcible entry block that you have to swing a sledge hammer at".


The obstacle course ends with competitors carrying a 185 lb “rescue randy” victim. Graff says he finished the obstacle course in 1 minute and 27 seconds.


Graff ranked 12th out of Canadian firefighters who competed, and 1st out of Manitoban firefighters.


The competition was in Montgomery, Alabama, and had firefighters from all over the world, including Australia, and countries from Europe.


Darrick Graff at the World Firefighter Combat Challenge. (Photo courtesy of Darrick Graff)



Gods Lake Narrows RCMP investigating suspicious death


RCMP in Gods Lake Narrows are investigating what they call a “suspicious death”.


On Monday the body of an adult female was found in an isolated area of the remote community. The victim’s name is not being released by police, but family say the victim is 23 year old Krystal Andrews.


Sergeant Bert Paquet of the Manitoba RCMP says in order to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation; no further details are being released.


Gods Lake Narrows RCMP with the assistance of the RCMP Serious Crime Unit and several other specialized units are involved in the case.


Canadians gather for Remembrance Day

Canadians are marking Remembrance Day today with services all over the country.


A Remembrance Day Service will be taking place in Thompson at the TRCC this morning.


Doors will open at 10am, with the colour parade at 10:20am, and service starting at 10:30am. There will be a luncheon at the Legion to follow.


By law, most businesses will be closed from 9am-1pm today, if not all day. Exceptions include health care providers, and gas stations.


Ten Thousand Villages sale marks 26th year in Thompson

Unique items from around the world have made their way to Thompson.


This week marks the 26th annual Ten Thousand Villages Sale.


Long-time organizer Bea Shantz tells us more:


"Ten thousand villages is a fair trade organization that helps third world countries to sell products that they have skills in the craft and then they help develop it, into a marketable product for North American markets".


Bea says 10% of the proceeds stay in the Thompson, and is usually donated to a cause in the community.


Bea and her husband Dale have helped organize the sale since the late 80’s, but this year they’ve handed over the reins to resident Kate Roth. 


The sale is at 52 Caribou Road, and runs until Saturday.



Lockdown at Westwood School turns out to be "false alarm"

A lockdown at Westwood Elementary School yesterday turned out to be a false alarm.


Members of the Thompson RCMP Detachment, Thompson Rural Detachment, General Investigation Section and North District Major Crime Unit were called to a lock down at the school yesterday before noon.


Now knowing whether the alarm was legitimate or not, RCMP had to assume it was and completed a thorough search of the school.

The school was deemed safe, and it was later determined to be a false alarm.


Police say the swift response by police and school staff confirms that the process put in place to respond to a school lockdown works.


Waiving of Fees policy amended to allow Recreation Director to approve requests

City council has made it easier for groups hosting an event to get their rental fees waived. 


Last week the Waiving of Fees Policy was amended to add that the Director of Recreation, Parks and Culture shall have the authority to waive fees for any group or organization up to a maximum of $250.


The amendment came as a recommendation from the Recreation and Community Services Committee, as a way to speed up the approval process for smaller fee amounts, as council was always required to approve the waiving of fees.


Groups will still need to meet the guidelines set out in the policy, and the waived funds will continue to be recorded.


Keystone Air Service suspended following crash in Thompson

The airline that saw one of its aircrafts crash near Thompson 2 months ago, has been suspended.


Sources say Keystone Air Service is temporarily grounded by Transport Canada  to protect public safety.


An unnamed Transport Canada source says the federal agency suspended the airline’s air operator certificate after they found serious deficiencies.


This is the third time the airline has been grounded.


See: Transportation Safety Board team in Thompson, investigating plane crash


A Piper PA-31 Navajo, similar to the one that crashed on September 15, 2015 in Thompson. (Photo from


Infrastructure investments seen across the province, including the North

Steve Ashton says the province has had a record year when it comes to infrastructure investments.


The MLA for Thompson and Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation says the 2014 and 2015 construction seasons saw more than $1 billion invested in highway construction work.


He says many of these investments are being made in the North:


"Well we’re continuing to upgrade Highway 6, I think people saw a lot of the work this year. There’s going to be more work on Highway 6- it’s important to recognize that it’s an important link in the North and it’s also part of the national highway system and we’re going to continue to invest in it. Another mayor area is Highway 280, we’re working with communities around 280, did some major work this year".


Ashton says the province is also looking at making upgrades to Road 391 in addition to surfacing the access road to Nelson House.


Validated results show federal race in Churchill-Keewatinook Aski closer than originally thought

Federal election results validated by the Returning Officer, shows the federal election race in Churchill-Keewatinook Aski was closer than initially thought.


The validated results came in last week, and show NDP incumbent Niki Ashton received 13,487 votes, while Liberal candidate Rebecca Chartrand received 12,575, putting the two candidates less than 1,000 votes apart.


Earlier results from Election Night had Ashton at 14,469 votes, and Chartrand at 12,914.


The total number of votes in the riding was 30,196, out of the 49,036 people eligible to vote.


The validated results include votes from the 7 polls which weren’t originally accounted for on Election Night.


City council passes 2015 Emergency Plan

The City’s emergency plan has been updated.


At last week’s City council meeting, a resolution to adopt the City of Thompson’s 2015 Emergency Plan was carried unanimously.


Director of Fire and Public Safety John Maskerine says the plan is reviewed and updated on an annual basis. He says there are only slight changes in the plan, including updating the list of City employees, and upgrades made to equipment.


The plan is normally updated in April, but slipped under the radar this year, and was brought to council last week.


The plan is submitted to the Emergency Measures Unit in Winnipeg, and allows them to know what emergency equipment Thompson has, including manpower, and what emergencies we can handle. 


Some of the emergency situations include a forest fire, mine accident, chemical accident, and power failure.


By-law amendment brings Boys and Girls Club closer to opening satellite location

The Boys and Girls club is one step closer to opening a satellite location in the Eastwood area.


The first reading of a zoning amendment, which would allow for the satellite location to open, was passed last week.


The club was looking to open the satellite location in September, but the current zoning by-law does not allow a “Social Services Facility” to be open in a semi-detached-residential-zone, which is where the potential satellite club would be.


The amendment will allow a “Social Services Facility" as a conditional use in the zone.


There will be a Public Hearing regarding the zoning by-law amendment on November 30th.



International policing award presented to Thompson RCMP

Thompson RCMP have received the award for their role in Project Northern Doorway.


Special Constable Robert Cleveland went to Chicago last week to receive the award from the International Association of Chiefs of Police, on behalf of the detachment, but he says the award is for everyone involved in the program:


"With all the stakeholders involved, those people were all recognized, and how the RCMP along with the community and the community partners, and community entities all came together as a unified unit to work with the homelessness population"  


It was announced that Thompson RCMP would be recognized in the population fewer than 20,000 residents category back in September.


Commissaire Bob Polson, Special Constable Robert Cleveland, and Assistant Commissaire Kevin Brosseau

(Photo Courtesy Special Constable Robert Cleveland)


See: Thompson RCMP detachment recipient of international award 


Mayor Dennis Fenske disputes CFIB study that ranks Thompson 20th out of 26 Manitoba municipalities


Mayor Dennis Fenske is defending the City’s operational spending.


A recent CFIB report ranked Thompson 20th out of 26 Manitoba municipalities in unnecessary operating spending.


Fenske says the report doesn’t take into account Thompson’s geographical location:  


"We are in a Northern community, with competitive wages to compete with industry in our community and so if you don’t have competitive wages, you’re not going to have those people working for us. I can defend our wage package quite easily, and I’ll admit, it is higher than southern Manitoba but the cost of living, and being in the geographical location that we are you need that higher wage to attract oeople to our community and keep them in our community".


The report criticized the City’s spending for items like protective services and recreation. Fenske says Thompson has an RCMP contract that is decided by the Government of Canada and the RCMP, without the input of the City.


See: Thompson ranks 20th our of 26 Manitoba municipalities in unneccessary operating spending


Mayor Dennis Fenske appoints Councillor Kathy Valentino as Deputy Mayor

City council had their annual organization meeting yesterday.


It was the second organization meeting for the council of 2014-2018.


The meeting saw Mayor Dennis Fenske appoint Councillor Kathy Valentino to Deputy Mayor. Councillor Penny Byer held the position during the last year.


Fenske also appointed committee chairs, with many of them remaining the same. New committee chairs are Councillor Duncan Wong for the Human Resources Committee, Councillor Kathy Valentino who as Deputy Mayor is automatically chair of the Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, and Councillor Penny Byer who is chair of the brand new Communications Committee.




Thompson ranks 20th out of 26 Manitoba municipalities in unnecessary operating spending


Manitoba municipalities are charging families more than needed for unnecessary operating spending.


A recent Canadian Federation of Independent Business report ranked Manitoba’s 26 largest municipalities by their operating spending growth in relation to their population growth.


CFIB Manitoba Director of Provincial Affairs Elliot Sims says most of the increased operating spending is due to labour costs:


"If we look at the City of Thompson, operating spending growth between 2008 and 2013 was up 10% but actually labour costs, which account for 51% of the municipal operating  budget actually increased by 25%".


Thompson ranked 20th in the report. The Pas came in last, while the City of Dauphin placed first.


NHR offering free bus rides in effort to make grocery shopping more accessible

It’s going to be easier for residents to get to and from grocery stores this month.


Throughout November the NHR is providing free bus rides to and from grocery stores, for those who don’t have a car or have difficulty walking.


Health Promotion Coordinator Bruce Krentz says it’s a step in the right direction:


"Its healthy food, and it’s just giving people access to food cause it’s easy to make bad choices or to not have any at all, if it’s hard to get to the grocery store. This is sort of trying to remove one of those barriers and it certainly isn’t all of the barriers but once you get to the grocery store it’s a little bit easier to make healthy choices and to start cooking at home".


Residents eligible for the “Ride Free for Food” program can pick up bus tickets at the NHR building.


The NHR partnered with the City of Thompson to make the program possible.


Sugar sweetened beverage intake higher in Northern Manitoba

The Heart and Stroke Foundation is trying to raise awareness about sugar sweetened beverages.


Community Nutrition and Northern Outreach Manager Amanda Nash says youth in Northern Manitoba have a high intake of sugary beverages:


"We did a short study here in Manitoba last May, looking at Northern Manitoba in 9 communities. We surveyed about 500 students gr.5 to gr.8 and we found that 70% of those students were consuming sugar sweetened beverages at least 3 times a day".


Data shows that across Canada one third of children and youth consume at least one sugar sweetened beverage per day.


Nash says eating too much sugar is linked to a variety of health complications including heart disease, obesity, and cancer.  


She hopes introducing policies in municipalities will help reduce the intake. She was in Thompson yesterday raising awareness on the drinks. 


59 RD Parker students going to work instead of school today

59 RD Parker students won’t be in school today. Instead, the Gr.9 students will be at work.


Today all across the country parents and guardians are “taking their kids to work”.


RD Parker Principal Rob Fisher tells us more:

"It’s a national program for all gr.9 students across Canada to participate; basically it’s an opportunity for kids to go to work, they can go with a parent, a relative, a friend, anywhere they want".


It gives students the chance to try out a career they might be interested in.


The day is sponsored by The Learning Partnership, Scotiabank, and Safe Work Manitoba and sees more than 250,000 students join a parent or guardian for work nationally.  


The Heritage North Museum, Manitoba Hydro and Thompson General Hospital are just some of the places students will be spending the day.



Crime Prevention Conference & After School Network happening in Thompson this month

The province is bringing a conference that focuses on engaging youth, up to Thompson.


Minister of Children and Youth Opportunities Melanie Wight tells us about Practical Strategies for Engaging Youth and Creating Opportunities:


"It’s our crime prevention conference and after school network event and we’re bringing it North, so we're very excited about that. We have a couple of speakers that we hope people will come out and hear. They're internationally renowned and really exciting".


The keynote speakers are Stephen Leafloor and Larry Brendtro.


The goal is to provide practical takeaways that can be easily applied to youth programs, specifically programs in northern communities.


The conference happens November 24th and 25th.


Thompson Salvation Army hopes to raise $80,000 during this year's kettle drive

With Halloween in the past, Christmas is on the minds of many including the Salvation Army.


Roy Bladen, Director of the Thompson Salvation Army says they start interviews for Christmas Hampers tomorrow:


"The Christmas hampers are traditionally the Christmas meal that we put out every year and it contains the turkey and all the trimmings and toys that go out with Christmas for the kids. so it’s quite a large package".


The hampers will be distributed on December 16th. Last year they gave out 118 hampers to families in need.


The Slavation Army is also bringing back their Kettle Drive. Bladen says it starts November 19th:


"It runs Thursday, Friday, and Saturday until the last week prior to Christmas and then it’ll run every day through to Christmas Eve. We will be at Shoppers Drug Mart, we will be at Safeway in the Mall, Wal-Mart and the Liquor Mart".


Last year $53,000 was raised through the Kettle Drive. Bladen hopes to beat that number, with a goal of $80,000 for this year.


Thompson twins to compete in Special Olympics Canada Winter Games


Two local athletes will be competing for Team Manitoba at the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in March.


Manager of Sport Development and Training Colleen Lowdon-Bula tells us about 12 year old Thompson twins William and Jemiha Hart:


"William is a figure skater and Hemiha is a snowshoer and they were the two athletes from the Norman region who competed in our provincial games last year and they both qualified to go to our national games in Corner Brook Newfoundland this year".


William will be competing in the men’s level two figure skating event while Jemiha will be competing in the 100 and 200 meter snowshoe events.


Currently they’re fundraising money to help send them to the games. To help, you can go to the Special Olympics Manitoba website.


(Photo courtesy of Special Olympics Manitoba)


Thompson RCMP investigating fire from Halloween night

The Halloween weekend was a busy one for Thompson RCMP.


They received two calls of lost children on Halloween night. CFS was contacted after a resident found a young boy who was lost. The second call was for a 5-year-old boy who was left at a residence while trick or treating. He was later returned to his mom.


Thompson RCMP are also investigating a fire from Halloween night. During the early hours of November 1st police and Thompson Fire were called to the Eastwood area.


A tire was ignited and as it burned, the back of the hull of a boat caught fire and began to burn. It was put out and the investigation is ongoing.   


Anyone with information is asked to call police.




Thompson's taxi industry looking to increase rates

The Public Safety Committee is currently reviewing a rate increase request from the taxi industry.


The 16 taxi owners and operators in Thompson are proposing an 8 cent increase for every 100m and a 5 cent increase for each 10 second wait time. They’re not proposing any changes to the $4.25 flat rate fee.


The taxi industry had approached the City back in February with a different proposal but the Public Safety Committee determined there were inconsistencies with those increases.


The Committee will now review the current request, and make a recommendation to Council in a future meeting.



Thompson resident becomes a Canadian and an award recipient in the same week

Last week was a busy one for one Thompsonite.


Nikhil Handa, one of Vale Manitoba Operations Engineers-in-Training won the Member-in-Training Award from the Engineers and Geoscientists of Manitoba. The award is given to someone training to be an engineer or geoscientist while enhancing society’s knowledge of the profession.


In addition to receiving the award, Handa also became a Canadian citizen last week, making it a special week for him and his family. 



School District looks to get funding for full day kindergarten

The School District is hoping to get funding for full day kindergarten at Wapanock and Juniper Schools.


Last year, the School District of Mystery Lake received funding for the program through the province’s Early Childhood Development initiative.


ECDI is designed to support school divisions with their local needs and priorities, while providing a program that helps students prepare for school.


During last week’s School Board Trustee meeting, Superintendant Lorie Henderson said a ECDI funding request has been submitted.


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