15th Annual Tribute to Tourism Awards Gala

Tourism Westman is pleased to announce that the 15th Annual Tribute to Tourism Awards Gala held on June 13, 2018 at the Gladstone & District Community Centre in Gladstone, MB was a huge success. This special evening recognized and celebrated the exceptional individuals, businesses, organizations and communities within the Westman region that have made significant contributions to tourism development and promotion over the past year.

The evening included a lovely meal, entertainment by The Pine Creek Players and last but not least, the Awards Ceremony, led by Mark Humphries, owner of Westwood Ranch Garden Centre.

A BIG CONGRATULATIONS goes out to all 26 nominees!


Aspiring Youth:

Jordyn Griffin, Shoal Lake
Rayna Topham, Minnedosa
Shay Sandy, Carberry

Event of the Year:

Brandon Cruise Nights
Camp Hughes Heritage Day, Carberry
Food Truck Warz, Brandon
Grim Acres Scare Away Cancer, Brandon
Neepawa Street Party
Westman Multicultural Festival, Brandon
Royal Canadian Legion National Youth Track & Field Championships, Brandon

Marketing Excellence:

Brandon First – Collaborative Online Marketing Initiative
Potato Truck Pull, Carberry


Minnedosa Skate the Lake Committee & Minnedosa Minor Hockey – Skate the Lake/Rock the Lake
Brandon Riverbank Inc & City of Brandon – Festival Park the Project
Pelican Lake Healthy Water and Fish Committee & Killarney Lake Action Committee
RM of Yellowhead & Yellowhead Broadband

Service Excellence:

Wayne & Ruth Reiner, Gladstone
Virden Auditorium Theatre
Jackie Nichol, Brandon
Global Market, Brandon
Dirty Lake Outfitters, Minnedosa
Canada Day Celebrations Committee, Virden
Bar Y Meats, Deloraine

Volunteer of the Year:

Barb & Ray Sitter, Brandon
Muriel McPhail, Carberry
Stu Clelland, Deloraine

And the Winners are…

Aspiring Youth

sponsored by Community Futures Westman
This tribute is presented to an individual under the age of 29 years in their capacity as a volunteer, employee, or entrepreneur.

Rayna Topham (Minnedosa)

As host and tour operator at the Minnedosa Museum & Heritage Village for her upcoming second year, Rayna has been noted as being one of the best and most ambitious students ever hired for the position. Not only did Rayna perform the many daily tasks involved with her position, but she took it upon herself to initiate a variety of other activities throughout the Summer, including the implementation of multiple educational scavenger hunts, creating new museum displays, building a Heritage Village Float for a local parade and helping to execute Heritage Days; the museum’s annual showcase event. While working at the museum, she also acted as an ambassador for the community, promoting attractions, events, restaurants and shopping without any request or obligation to do so, and has requested a copy of the training manual for the local visitor information centre to improve her knowledge about promoting the area. A member of the Minnedosa 4-H Group, she has won many trips, awards and public speaking competitions. In 2015, she participated in a group exchange to Nova Scotia, and in return a group of 6 youth and 2 adults traveled to Minnedosa that July. Rayna was a member of the planning committee for this exchange and unique experiences were offered to the visitors in Southwest Manitoba. This July, Rayna will be traveling for a month to Croatia to attend Lions Camp, a prize earned in a Lions speaking contest. She has also traveled to Ottawa for a Global Youth Summit, and travels to Winnipeg to participate in Model United Nations Assembly. Rayna is a passionate volunteer; actively involved in numerous clubs and organizations, including the MCI Student Council, Minnedosa Credit Union Youth Board, Minnedosa Collegiate Foundation, Meals on Wheels, local PRYDE (Please Respect Your Diverse Environment) group and member of the local CHANGE (Citizens Helping All Nations Grow Equally) group. Not only is she a shining example of what the tourism industry can become, but she is an example of how our youth can make a difference and be a positive influence in the world.  

Event of the Year

sponsored by Leech Printing
This tribute is presented to a hallmark festival or event that creates substantial economic impact within the local community, attracts visitors from outside the region/province/country, generates regional/national media attention and positively promotes Southwest Manitoba.

Royal Canadian Legion National Youth Track & Field Championships (Brandon) 

In 2010, Legion Nationals became the de-facto Canadian Championships for youth and is the only national youth track and field competition at this level of competition. Because of this, the majority of Olympians representing Canada in track/field events are alumni of the Legion Nationals Program. This event brings together nearly 1,000 athletes from all 10 provinces and 3 territories to compete at the elite midget and youth level in over 30 different individual and team events, ranging from 100m sprints to the 4×100 relay to the decathlon. Youth from this program have set and broken numerous Legion National Records, Canadian Records and even World Records while participating in this meet! The Legion Nationals taking place in Brandon gave an incredible boost to the track and field community in the area, contributing to growth and innovation in the community when it comes to track and field engagement. Through the city’s Accommodation Tax Program, the Brandon Community Sportsplex (host venue) was able to receive a fully refurbished track, bringing it back to International Association of Athletics Federation regulation, which it had fallen since the last track upgrade for the 1997 Canada Summer Games. The upgrade ensures that regional, national and possibly even international track events will be possible here for years to come. Prior to the event, two of the Local Arrangements Committee members from Brandon attended the 2016 event in its host city to see exactly what was going to be required for their own event to succeed – and succeed they did; with leadership out of the Dominion Command in Ottawa stating afterwards that the 2017 event in Brandon was the best they ever had in 41 years! There was unprecedented local coverage, great spectator attendance, and organizing committee that had the heart and soul needed to make the event special, and a team of almost three hundred volunteers who all ensured a spectacular experience for all.

Marketing Excellence

sponsored by Travel Manitoba
This tribute recognizes a business, organization, event, or attraction that has developed an effective marketing campaign that increases tourism to Southwest Manitoba.

Brandon First – Collaborative Online Marketing Initiative 

This collaborative Online Marketing Initiative was undertaken to integrate all of Brandon First’s online activity and align it with their ultimate mandate of event recruitment. In doing so, they have allowed to grow their exposure of events they have worked with by leveraging the organization’s reach across multiple online platforms and grow their reach by building exposure off the groups they bring. The primary target markets for this campaign were prospective event attendees and the event planning community. Through their interactions with Brandon Tourism and the Economic Development Office they identified a fractured and siloed event community which segregated audiences and planners from valuable sources. By integrating their website (including a completely new mobile friendly re-design) & existing social media, adding Instagram and moving their newsletter format from an emailed .pdf with a low click through rate to an online blog version, they were able to achieve measurable results; well over a 30% increase year over year in Brandon First’s global Facebook likes, annual trending of over three times previous year on website traffic to their website as well as thousands of ad impressions on behalf of several Westman events recruiting volunteers, which in turn generated hundreds of total confirmed volunteers for those events.


sponsored by the Municipality of Westlake-Gladstone
This tribute is presented to an alliance of local businesses and/or organizations and/or communities that have partnered together to promote tourism for a particular area.

Brandon Riverbank Inc. & City of Brandon – Festival Park Project

Brandon Riverbank Inc. is a non-profit, charitable organization created by the City of Brandon in the mid-1990’s to be responsible for the stewardship and development of the Assiniboine River Corridor as it runs through the City of Brandon. The first twenty years of the partnership saw more than 5 million dollars invested in the River Corridor featuring a tourism centre, interpretive ponds, display gardens, parks, pathways and Winter activities such as skating and cross-country skiing. The Assiniboine River Corridor quickly became a regional tourism destination as it featured the Riverbank Discovery Centre, a visitor centre for the Brandon, Southwest Manitoba and a variety of destinations as well as popular greenspace amenities that spread throughout the corridor. Following the record-breaking floods in 2011 & 2014, this special greenspace was severely damaged and every project that had been completed was negatively impacted in some way. In partnership, Brandon Riverbank Inc. and the City of Brandon embarked on a master planning process to determine how our region could continue to use and enjoy this area while accounting for the natural processes of flooding in a responsible way. The Result was the “Back to the River” Master Plan, a sustainable roadmap for re-developing the River Corridor for the use of visitors and residents for years to come. The first project of the Back to the River Master Plan is Festival Park. This unique venue will include an outdoor covered stage with amphitheatre seating for 3,000 spectators. In addition, the park will feature two new family picnic shelters, an internal trail system connecting to the larger pathway network and will be enhanced with trees, shrubs and native prairie grasses. Festival Park will provide a space unlike any other in the region and will host a multitude of special events including National Indigenous Day, Canada Day Celebrations (another partnership between the two parties), community and cultural performances, outdoor movies, summer concerts and fundraising walks, runs and special events! Brandon Riverbank Inc. has been fundraising for this project since the launch of the Master Plan in 2016, and was approached by the City of Brandon with a unique partnership opportunity in 2017. The non-profit charitable organization had been successful in raising approximately 50% of the required funds through in-kind and cash contributions and was hoping to start construction of Festival Park in 2017 in a phased approach, completing contruction as funds were in place. Eager to assist the development of the space, the City of Brandon offered a loan to enable to project to be completed in its entirety. By forging the Festival Park Partnership, construction is now well underway and will be completed in the Summer of 2018, creating a beautiful new space that will signify a multitude of product and event development opportunities in Brandon and Southwestern Manitoba!

Service Excellence

Sponsored by CAA Manitoba
This tribute is presented to a business or organization for the delivery of exemplary service and enhancement of visitor experiences as demonstrated through a high degree of visitor satisfaction.

Dirty Lake Outfitters (Minnedosa)

Dirty Lake Outfitters is a Minnedosa based Waterfowl hunting outfitter specializing in non-resident waterfowl hunting, comprised of three licensed guides who share the same drive and passion for waterfowl hunting as the clients who hunt with them. Duck and goose hunting is exceptional in this part of Southwestern Manitoba, known by those in the trade as “The Duck Factory”. It was in 2002 that Barry Good and John Kryshewsky realized the opportunity to run a successful outfitting business in this hunting hot-spot. What started with less than 20 hunters has grown to 50-70 hunters per season; a short 5-week window from the last week of September until the end of October. To keep up with the demand, the company hired Sam Parish who joined as a full partner two years ago. They lead a group of American hunters, travelling from places like Tennessee, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Illinois, Texas and Kansas on pre-scouted fields each days of 3-5 day trip, targeting both ducks and geese from layout blinds and stand up blinds over full body goose and duck decoys. They run three different rigs pulling trailers loaded with gear and equipment, continually rotate and rest fields to ensure they are hunting fresh fields daily, and use the latest tools available to increase their success and comfort, adding to the quality of the hunt. Dirty Lake Outfitters work as a team, which they say is key to their success, combined with many years of hunting experience and knowledge. They work together every day of the season to make each hunt a memorable experience, which leads to 90% of their clients being repeat customers!   

Volunteer of the Year

sponsored by Clarke’s of Gladstone
This tribute is presented to a volunteer (a person who has not received payment) who has demonstrated an outstanding effort in a tourism activity.

Muriel McPhail (Carberry)

Muriel McPhail has lived in Carberry her whole life. She is fiercely proud of her hometown and because she has travelled all over the world, and loves to meet people and talk to them, she has shared her loved for Carberry far and wide. In a Christmas letter written 35 years ago, she said “We know we are fortunate to be living in such a great community. We are really proud of our town, it is the best place to live in the world”. A founding partner of McPhail Travel Agency in 1964, Muriel is well versed in the importance of Tourism and has been a staunch supporter of the Carberry Chamber of Commerce, serving as president in 1974 and as a member of the Development Corporation Board and Tourism Branch for Western Manitoba while in that office. Retired, she now spends most of her free time volunteering. Whether it is putting in countless hours planting, weeding and watering in the cemetery or being an active member of the Communities in Bloom Carberry Program – she does it! All in the effort of making the community look its best for residents and visitors. In addition, she is a member of the local IOED group, which organizes events to bring visitors into the community and increase opportunities for those less fortunate. Over the years, she has been a dedicated member of numerous clubs and organizations, including the Ladies’ Curling Club, Ester Star Lodge, Hospital Aid and many more. She is a wonderful influence to both youth and the young at heart alike and is continuously donating so much of her energy to volunteer projects throughout the community, making it a better place. Muriel truly is a matriarch figure for the Town of Carberry and her sense of pride in her community radiates throughout her!

Thanks to all who came out to celebrate!
(more photos available in gallery below)