2023 Tribute to Tourism Awards Gala

Tourism Westman is pleased to announce that the 2023 Annual Tribute to Tourism Awards Gala held on June 15th, 2023 at The Souris Glenwood Memorial Complex in Souris, 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 few years.

The evening included a lovely meal catered by Woodfire Deli, entertainment by Morgan Peloquin & Cale Biech and the Awards Ceremony, led by Mark Humphries, General Manager of the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba.

A BIG CONGRATULATIONS goes out to all 27 nominees! Each and every one of them should feel proud of all their amazing accomplishments.

And the Winners are…

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 Tourism – Online Marketing Overhaul *pictured are Lanny Stewart & presenter Colin Ferguson (Travel Manitoba)

By helping online users to identify and customize their ideal visit to their individual likes through an integrated platform which consisted of a fresh new website, various print materials and the development of an app to align with their fresh new brand – this nominee was able to create new pathways for visitors to fully enjoy all that their community has to offer; with a strong focus on the city’s food, culture and wide range of experiences.  By significantly increasing their monthly digital viewership; this complete marketing overhaul has created greater content consumption and improved interaction between social media and website resources.

Service Excellence

Sponsored by Pinnacle Event Rentals
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.

The Souris Hotel *pictured are presenter Trish Chalanchuk (Pinnacle Event Rentals) & Darlene Janssen

Officially open to the public in 2018, this business has done an outstanding job at providing exemplary service from day one! Always going the extra mile to make certain that each and every guest is taken care of and comfortable; the team at this establishment work hard to achieve their full potential by providing their patrons with creative new ways to add value to their stay as well as a remarkable standard of cleanliness and a commitment to environmental and economic sustainability within their community by participating in local green initiatives and charitable causes. This ‘can do’ approach, combined with a friendly smile has earned them this past year a 9.3 out of 10 rating on booking.com, 4.6 out of 5 on TripAdvisor, and has been ranked by the Travelmyth algorithm as one of the top 50 hotels in Manitoba in numerous categories!

Volunteer of the Year

sponsored by Plaza Petals
This tribute is presented to a volunteer (a person who has not received payment) who has demonstrated an outstanding effort in a tourism activity.

Tom Instance (Minnedosa) *pictured are presenter Cindy Russel (Plaza Petals) & Tom Instance

This nominees passion for cross country skiing and hiking, combined with his love of his community, led him to create a growing network of groomed and maintained trails for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy year round in the rolling hills that surround Minnedosa for the past 35 years!  This individual has not only charted the trails but has led the development and placement of signage, warming shacks and pro-active trouble shooting to create an amenity that is available for all who enjoy mountain biking, snowshoeing & more. Known as the “Squirrel Hills” – many point to his passion as the reason that they have become involved with the community fundraising and committee work associated with the continued development of the area.

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.

Cassandra Cardy & Zac Easton *pictured are Cassandra Cardy, presenter Bill Hogan (Community Futures Westman) & Zac Easton

Having met while studying Creative Communications at Red River College, this duo’s shared interest in marketing and branding led them to create a social media following as they discovered dining delights in Winnipeg as well as on trips to various cities in the US. During the pandemic, they brought their skills and their reach back home to benefit the hospitality sector in Minnedosa that had been hard hit by the restrictive conditions; offering their services at no charge to countless businesses in the community to help them adapt and promote their goods and services in order contribute to the well-being of the community at large.  More recently, they were able to combine their marketing savvy and love for creating signature dining experiences with the purchasing of the Dari Isle Drive In, and have since re-developed the popular Summer hot spot with a 1960’s diner feel. The pair still enjoy creating rich tourism content for not only their own business, but continue to contribute to the community they are proud to call home by promoting other local spots whenever possible to help put Minnedosa on the map!


sponsored by The Municipality of Souris-Glenwood
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.

Section 6 Brewing Co., The Dock on Princess & Kickin’ Axe *pictured are presenter Duane Davison (Municipality of Souris-Glenwood Mayor), Kate Hill (Section 6 Brewing Co.), Whitney Glasgow & Erin Wells (The Dock on Princess)

This partnership was created to foster a strong sense of community and provide visitors and residents with a great, one-stop destination for food, drinks and fun in their shared corner of the City of Brandon. Each partner involved offers up a unique experience already, but together they have created a strong, symbiotic relationship; enhancing each’s offerings by providing a package experience and referrals with a shared goal of making Downtown Brandon a place visitors want to be. Though they themselves have said that they are not the first to lay claim to promoting a good time – what makes this partnership truly special lays within the fact that their proximity to one another could have been ignored – but feel that that is not what their community is about and wanted to continue to grow and create activity in the heart of the city and remind folks why Brandon is so special. The forging of this relationship has resulted in the trio seeing a significant increase in patronage and has created new milestones of achievement for each business.

Indigenous Tourism

sponsored by The Dairy Bar
This tribute award is presented to an Indigenous product, service or experience that demonstrates cultural authenticity and sensitivity to the ecological, cultural and economic integrity of the community.

Dakota Nation Winterfest (Sioux Valley) *pictured are presenter Echo Finlay (The Dairy Bar) & Kimberley McKay

This nominee is a true leader in their community, contributing to the preservation, celebration and revitalization of Indigenous culture while fostering a deep sense of respect and stewardship for the environment. This annual, four-day long immersive event incorporates various components to highlight traditions through Indigenous cultural performances like pow-wows and storytelling sessions that ensure the passage of Indigenous knowledge of histories, legends and traditional teachings as well as traditional games, innovative cultural exhibits & displays, sports, a talent show and more; which all showcase indigenous athletes and artists from across Canada and the United States. This event is the largest Indigenous sport & cultural event of its kind under one roof and invites people from all cultures to take part in the festivities in Brandon each year; creating an urban venue to share stories and talents and helping foster greater cross-cultural understanding and appreciation of Indigenous artistic expressions.

Resilience & Innovation

sponsored by The Municipality of Souris-Glenwood
This tribute award is presented to business that has demonstrated innovation, resilience and adaptation, along with support for their local community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

La Bella Terra (Minnedosa) *pictured are presenter Duane Davison (Municipality of Souris-Glenwood Mayor) and Veronica & Cory Johnston

This nominee took a leap on their dream business only to find that two months into operation that the rising waters of a record setting flood had completely submerged their property. Emergency action was required by boat to save plants and equipment and try to recover what was lost.  Not only were they able to recover, but they rebuilt and expanded their business offerings – even in the face of a second flood and managed to navigate opportunities to serve their clients during a period of disruption with Covid restrictions – moving as much of their operations to permitted outdoor locations as they could in ADDITION to generously serving their community through free vegetable deliveries to families hard hit by the economic challenges, as well as free Christmas tree deliveries and assisting in town beautification initiatives – demonstrating this nominees strength of will in the face of crisis.

Event of the Year (budget over 5k)

sponsored by Leech Printing
The Event of the Year Tribute (budget over 5k) recognizes a hallmark festival or event that creates substantial economic impact within the local community, attracts visitors from outside the region/province/country and generates regional/national media attention and positively promotes Southwest Manitoba.

Manitoba Ag Days (Brandon) *pictured are Dustin Williams, presenter Dean Jago (Leech Printing), Scott Perkins & Brad Crammond

This not-for-profit, volunteer led Provincially incorporated organization hosts an annual agricultural trade show which presented its 46th event in 2023; after a two-year hiatus due to Covid-19. The organization’s board of directors spent 36 months planning, re-planning and executing a fantastic three-day event this past year that prides itself on filling hotels and restaurants and bringing people to the Westman Region to share our story so that more people will learn about where their food comes from. This event draws 35 to 40,000 people annually with an economic impact of $350 Million dollars – of which $50 Million is attributed to ancillary spending in the region as a result of the event. The 2023 show generated 4,151 room nights for local hotels alone. In addition to using proceeds from the event to renew and refurbish community facilities for a variety of community uses throughout the year, the event also contributes at least $29,000 in support to Brandon and surrounding communities!

Event of the Year (budget under 5k)

sponsored by Woodfire Deli
The Event of the Year Tribute (budget under 5k) recognizes a hallmark festival or event that creates substantial economic impact within the local community, attracts visitors from outside the region, province or country and generates regional or national media attention and positively promotes Southwest Manitoba.

Mid-West Show N’ Shine (Hamiota) *pictured are Gwenda Skayman, presenters Alex & Maria Martel (Woodfire Deli) &  Kelvin Tiler

Since Its inaugural event held in 2013, this group works tirelessly to grow their festivities into something bigger and better with each passing year, with this past one being no exception and proving to be their best yet, with record breaking numbers. This event was born when their local community Arts Council was looking to create an event to best promote their season’s photographic exhibit Prairie Cruisin’ and identified that a show featuring classic cars outside the arts center could generate the pull that they needed. The formula proved to be a great fit and what was supposed to be a one-time LOCAL attraction was so popular that it has become an annual whole-day event filled with live music performances & other entertainment, art exhibits, fantastic food offerings and more – with the whole community pulling together to make the event a success and drawing in large crowds from the entire region and beyond; giving the community a significant boost each year and putting Hamiota on the map for classic car enthusiasts. On top of the obvious economic impact felt in communities of this size; the event has also helped to re-energize a sense of community among the volunteers, merchants and citizens that greet returning and new visitors to the event each year.

Oustanding Contribution by an Individual

sponsored by Tourism Westman
The Outstanding Contribution by an Individual Award is presented to an individual or individuals that have created or contributed towards a tourism attraction, entirely of their own personal volition and without renumeration, that not only attracts a large amount of visitors to the Southwest Manitoba Region, but has made a significant financial impact that benefits a charitable cause or organization by means of donation.

Ride Like Ole (Minnedosa) *pictured are Tim Frykoda, Richard Dupuis, Paul Archbutt, Leigh Heie & Dave Tournier

The Board of Valley Life Recreation in Minnedosa was shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of Ole Heie, an aspiring 12-year-old elite athlete who was suddenly taken from us in the Summer of 2021, while out for a run. Sadly, he missed witnessing the formal public unveiling of the conceptual plans for the Squirrel Hills Trail Park which took place only two days after his passing. He knew something was being planned and he was excited to learn more about it. After discussion with the Heie family, the idea of 172-kilometre bike ride fundraiser planned for the Squirrel Hills trail park was named in his honor and featured seven cyclists making the trek from the historic Inglis elevators, traversing Riding Mountain National Park and ending at the park’s historic Eastgate site. Among the seven mountain bike riders to complete the entire ride were Ole’s parents, Leigh and Rob Heie, Richard Dupuis, Dave Ternier, Paul Archbutt and Tim Frykoda – all Valley Life Recreation Inc. board members – and friend Kevin Earl… with Ole’s sister Ava and other friends & family joining for the second half of the ride. What began as a local event with the goal of raising $17,200 ($100 for every KM of the ride), ballooned to something much larger with unexpected media attention across Canada, the attention of thousands on social media, and fundraising that culminated with $30,000 contributed to Minnedosa’s Squirrel Hills Trail Park in his name; seeing a new section of trail being named ‘Ole’s Way’; in a place that he would have loved to be – a place where he could engage with others, encourage people, and invite everyone of all abilities to participate.

**Tourism Westman has only ever received 3 nominations throughout the event’s 17-year history that were so remarkably touching and inspiring to merit an award in the category of Outstanding Contribution by an individual, with 2023 being the 3rd! Needless to say, this nominee’s accomplishments are incredibly special and the strength of will they put into making this happen is incredibly deserving of this award.

Additional nominees were:

Marketing Excellence – The Minnedosa Skating Club, Trails of Toba (Brandon)

Service Excellence– Sun Sun Chinese Restaurant (Minnedosa), Summer Shack Drive Inn Restaurant (Carberry)

Volunteer of the Year – Tony Mullie (Minnedosa), Jamie Smart (Carberry)

Aspiring Youth – Sydney Murray (Hamiota), Taylor Wegener (Elkhorn), Britteny Breemersch (Brandon)

Partnership – Carberry Homecoming Committee & Carberry Chamber of Commerce, The Minnedosa Chamber of Commerce: Christmas in the Valley

Indigenous Tourism – National Indigenous Peoples Day Celebrations (Brandon)

Resilience & Innovation – enjoy Salon & Spa (Minnedosa)

Event of the Year (budget over 5k) – Carberry Agricultural Fair & Races, Souris Survivor Curling Bonspiel, Killarney Community Events Committee: Hunter Brothers Concert

Event of the Year (budget under 5k) – Race the North Face (Brandon)

Thanks to all who came out to celebrate with us!

(more photos available in gallery below, provided by Sabine Chorley)