As our #iamMB project keeps rolling along, we got to thinking, who are some of Manitoba's movers and shakers? The people, well-known and maybe not-so-well-known who have shaped Manitoba over the last couple centuries? Problem is, once you start throwing out names your list becomes insanely long. There are just too many outstanding Manitobans for one list, but here are 16 of note...
Let's start this list with the person considered by many to be the father of Manitoba: Louis Riel. The famous Métis leader was the central figure in creating The Manitoba Act and bringing Manitoba into Confederation. He was a rebel, a revolutionary and he fought for the rights of his people and their lands. On November 16, 1885, he was executed for high treason for his role in the resistance to Canadian encroachment on Métis lands.
To this day, Louis Riel is one of the most widely recognized historical figures in Canadian history. And you'll still find him Keeping it Riel in our local culture.
She's got a need for speed. Cindy is the best long track speed skater to come out of Canada. She's a six-time Olympic medalist and is the only Canadian Olympian to win five medals in a single Olympic games. Cindy's tied with Clara Hughes (another outstanding Manitoban) for Canada's most decorated Olympian of all time. They both got aspirational on lock.
Born in Saint Boniface, Gabrielle Roy is one of Canada's great contemporary writers on the human condition. Her early years spent teaching in rural Manitoba became a rich source of unforgettable memories that enhanced her work. Gabrielle received many prestigious literary awards, including the Governor General's Award, France's Prix Femina, the Prix Duvernay, the Canada Arts Council Award and New York's Literary Guild Award.
Sir William Stephenson
Never heard of Sir William? Let's change that shall we. He was a Canadian soldier, airman, inventor and spymaster. Sir William was a senior rep for the British Security Co-ordination (a covert organization set up by MI6) for the western hemisphere during the second World War. They called him Intrepid.
Author, Ian Fleming once wrote "James Bond is a highly romanticized version of a true spy. The real thing is … William Stephenson." Your move, Dr. No.
The polar bear whisperer. If you've seen any amazing polar bear paintings or script prints in the last few years, they're most likely by Kal. She's an artist, brush script painter, speaker and author who sells her work internationally. She's also had her work with the polar bears in Churchill featured on shows like Animal Planet. Kal's deep love for polar bears and all living creatures comes alive with each stroke of her brush.
C'mon, it's Jennifer Jones. She's one of the best curlers to ever play the game. She won us an Olympic gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics and she did it without losing a game. And that's not been done before. She'll get that rock closest to the house and her steely-eyed focus is no joke.
"We have described for you a mountain, we have shown you the path to the top. We call upon you to do the climbing."
Senator Murray Sinclair is one of the most important faces of Indigenous issues in Canada today. He is an advocate and a peace-builder. His work as Chief Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) produced 94 "calls to action" in an effort to repair the harm caused by the residential school system.
Bee the solution! Chris is the founder of Beeproject, an apiary business that focuses on educating the public on the global plight of bees and pollinators. A huge advocate for urban beekeeping, Beeproject has begun keeping hives on the roofs of some downtown Winnipeg buildings. It's a bee-utiful thing.
"Completed on time and under budget." When does that ever happen? The Red River Floodway is the answer. During the 60's, Premier Duff Roblin spearheaded the floodway project in response to the disastrous flood of 1950. Since then, the floodway (or Duff's Ditch) has been used over 20 times and has prevented billions of dollars in damages.
Duff's Ditch is now a National Historic Site for its outstanding engineering and is considered one of the world's 16 engineering marvels. Thanks for getting that ditch dug, Duff!
"We have a responsibility to be a difference maker." Devon Clunis was not only Winnipeg's first black police chief, he was Canada's as well. After retiring from the force in 2016, he began aiding grassroots organizations like Bear Clan Patrol and wrote the children's book, The Little Boy From Jamaica. On Devon's last day as police chief he broke his three decade-long promise to never eat a doughnut while on the force. Hope it was a good one.
Jenna Rae and Ashley Nicole
When Martha Stewart gives you a shout out, you know you're a "good thing." Jenna and Ashley are not only twin sisters, but partners in the extremely popular boutique bake shop, Jenna Rae Cakes. Their immaculately presented Instagram photos and deliciously inventive creations keeps the shop's line up from ever letting up.
Guy Maddin is one of Canada's most gifted filmmakers and is sometimes referred to as the "Canadian David Lynch." His surreal, dreamlike style can be seen throughout his body of work, from Tales from the Gimli Hospital (1998) to The Saddest Music in the World (2003). It's not uncommon to hear "That's Maddinesque" to describe a very surreal and stylized film or piece of art.
Beatrice Culleton Mosioner
"I always felt most of my memories were better avoided, but now I think it's best to go back in my life before I go forward." Excerpt from In Search of April Raintree.
Many of us might know Beatrice most from her first novel, In Search of April Raintree, which she wrote following the death of two sisters to suicide. First published in 1983, this literary classic remains one of Canada's most popular books of Indigenous literature and has been added to school curriculums across the country.
Reelin' in the fans. Aaron is a sportsman, television personality, and founder of Uncut Angling, which is kind of a big deal on YouTube. Uncut Angling's unscripted, off-the-cuff style fully captures the passion, intensity and humour (yes, humour) of sport fishing. You don't have to be an avid angler to become hooked on the show.
Your name here
You don't think you're outstanding? Think again. All Manitobans have a unique story to tell and it's time to add your name to the list. Nominate yourself, or, if you're shy, nominate another to the #iamMB project. Tell us how you're a Manitoba mover or shaker, or let us know why we should keep our eye on you.
Nominate here: #iamMB