Manitoba

Janice Filmon looks to future after cancer, at past to celebrate Manitoba history

Janice Filmon has set her sights on both the past and the future, with equal importance — but for very different reasons.

'I could use an energy surge every once in a while and I get that from other people'

Janice Filmon says she is 'very grateful' for her life after twice beating breast cancer. (John Einarson/CBC)

Janice Filmon has set her sights on both the past and the future, with equal importance — but for very different reasons.

Manitoba's lieutenant governor has returned to her post after surgery in September for breast cancer — the second time in the past three decades that she has fought the disease.

"It was a big shock, it really was. I thought that was behind me," Filmon told CBC Information Radio host Marcy Markusa on Monday.

Now, back to health after beating the disease again, she praised her doctors at CancerCare Manitoba and urged women to get regular mammograms.

"I've had, I would say, just an outpouring almost of love from the general community of people I don't even know. All that kind of support is really important to move you ahead."

Filmon's mother died at age 54 from breast cancer and in 2013, she and husband Gary lost their daughter, Allison, 49, to melanoma.

So Filmon takes nothing for granted.

"I am very grateful for my life and where I'm at and hope just to be able to keep on doing the right things to be well," she said. 

"I could use an energy surge every once in a while and I get that from other people."

Seeing the passion others have for this province and its history helps give her that energy.

She has travelled much of the province over the years as lieutenant governor, as well as during her husband's term as Manitoba premier from 1988-99, "and you find in every community there is somebody that's followed their passion," she said.

"What starts as a little collection in a basement moves to the garage, [then] moves to some building, and the next thing you know, you've got a full-fledged museum going with volunteers and scheduling."

Filmon wants the public to help bring some of those unheralded people recognition by nominating them for a Manitoba history award. 

The annual historical preservation and promotion awards take on a greater meaning this year as the province marks its 150th anniversary since joining confederation. As many as five awards will be presented in spring.

The awards, presented in consultation with the Manitoba Historical Society, will honour those whose dedication to honouring the past has resulted in:

  • The writing of historical publications and documents.
  • Stewardship of museums and archives.
  • Raising public education, advocacy and awareness.
  • Committee or community service.
  • Preservation of historic sites/buildings.
  • Art and media.

"History is just so very important," Filmon said. "What we want is for people to know that history is valued and what you're doing out in your community [is important].

"I would really encourage your listeners to think about nominating [someone] in whatever capacity this year. It takes a little bit of work to nominate somebody, but don't let that scare you. People will help you."

More details about the awards, as well as nomination forms, can be found on the websites for the lieutenant governor and the Manitoba Historical Society.

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