Junior Chamber International Winnipeg celebrates success stories in mentorship

Johanna Wood, past local president of JCI.
Johanna Wood, past local president of JCI.

“Our belief is that in order to create lasting positive change, we must improve ourselves and the world around us,” says JCI Winnipeg’s president, Danelle Hueging. “The JCI mission is to provide development opportunities that empower young people to create positive change.”
These words could be taken directly from JCI’s mission statement.
The past JCI Winnipeg president Johanna Wood can attest to the authenticity of this statement. When joining JCI, she was in the process of changing careers, going from the Canadian Armed Forces as an Armoured Crewman with the Lord Strathconas Horse Regiment, to university studying business administration, majoring in marketing and entrepreneurship.
She is now director of business development & communications at Vandenbergs Fine Jewellery. This process took place in the span of just three years.
Presiding JCI Winnipeg gave her the edge over other candidates, propelling her into a new business director role. Her experience leading a team of dedicated members with JCI enabled her to quickly put into practice skills and theories acquired at Red River College and to enable JCI Winnipeg to continue to grow and honour its mission.
Clearly, her current employer saw the value of such a candidate. Quoting current experiences in her leadership role, drawing on skills to plan, organize and execute JCI events and mandates, Johanna Wood successfully demonstrated her strengths at the interview and positioned herself as the ideal candidate.
She went on to become a nominee for the Future Leaders of Manitoba awards, vice president of JCI Canada, ex officio board member with the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and campaign contributor for the current City of Winnipeg mayoral elections.
JCI Winnipeg was able to provide an environment for this driven young professional to display her skills, to acquire new ones and to access opportunities for personal and professional growth.
Johanna Wood is a great example that demonstrates the potential that JCI can corral for its members who strive to achieve positive impact in the community.
JCI Winnipeg benefited greatly from Johanna’s leadership. Since, JCI Winnipeg helped forge effective speaking champion Natasha Fisher, who will be representing the Americas on the world stage in Leipzig, Germany in November.
There’s more: Natasha Fisher quickly transferred her knowledge and skills as an effective speaker to member Katrina Hueging, who just competed for her place at the Prairie Regionals Effective Speaking competition that took place on June 7 in Calgary.
This exemplifies how JCI’s mission, to provide development opportunities that empower young people to create positive change, can be achieved through member-to-member mentoring. Connecting with JCI’s membership, coupled with a goal to improve, yields amelioration for those who seek it out; and this mission is played out continually.
Join us at a JCI Winnipeg Month End Mixer to share your vision of a better community, engage JCI members towards betterment, and discover the avenues of potential and impact that exist in our city.
I spoke earlier about honouring our mission and I speak now on behalf of all JCI Winnipeg members: it is an honour to contribute to this mission. We are here to help and to serve our members, our mission and our community.
Simon Méthot is the JCI Winnipeg director. Visit http://www.jci.cc/local/media/Winnipeg for more information about the local chamber and its events.

Small business shouldn’t be the one to suffer under regulations for intellectual property

The local Brick's Fine Furniture received instruction from The Brick to cease and desist using the name, but was able to fight it. Photo by AJ Batac
The local Brick’s Fine Furniture received instruction from The Brick to cease and desist using the name, but was able to fight it. Photo: AJ Batac
Bold Ideas Dorothy Dobbie
Bold Ideas
Dorothy Dobbie

I don’t remember the exact wording, but one day when I was president (now designated “chair”) of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, Cynthia and Fred Brick, owners of Brick’s Fine Furniture, showed me a legal letter they had received from The Brick, the furniture box store. It demanded that the Bricks must “immediately cease and desist using the name Brick.”
The Bricks were reeling in shock when they came to talk to me. This was their livelihood, their life, their whole world. It was also their family name and they had been in business for many years, opening in 1969, long before The Brick registered the name (1978) and became an entity operating out of Alberta (eventually creeping across Canada and finally opening a store in Winnipeg). The Bricks were panic-stricken thinking of how to battle this multi-million-dollar giant.
Not long after that, I was elected to Parliament and eventually became parliamentary secretary for Consumer and Corporate Affairs, which was then a separate department. Soon after, another challenge raised its head for a local business. The De Nardi family, who now own Piazza De Nardi, had spent many years developing a brand called Mondo Foods, which they had duly registered in Canada, but not internationally. Suddenly they were threatened by an American competitor who made similar cease and desist demands.
Without going into detail, I raise these two cases as examples of how intellectual property (IP) rights can be turned into a sledge hammer to elbow small business out of the way. We were able to resolve both these cases through hard work and moral suasion, but more often than not, the threatened entrepreneur just folds because he doesn’t have the resources to fight the giants who are coming after him.
Chamber of Commerce fighting to help
Now the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce is taking up the cudgel for small business again in calling for reconsideration of changes proposed in the omnibus budget Bill C-31. Among the many provisions of the bill is one that would see the elimination of the declaration of “use” in trademark application forms. Currently the legislation requires that to register a name as a trademark you have to actually use it or at least propose to use it.
(New businesses take note: the fact that you have registered your business provincially does not mean that you have trademark protection even now in another jurisdiction or province – SMART Tab may be protected in Manitoba because it is our trade name here, but that doesn’t stop someone in Alberta from using the same name there. Use and display of a distinctive name does, however, give you an argument in defending yourself from demands from a predatory competitor that you stop using your name.)
The “use” issue is an important, even critical, issue for small business all across Canada from a number of perspectives. Chief among these is that it prevents “trademark trolls” from simply collecting names and registering them in the hope that they will be able to ransom the name from a legitimate user. It focuses the onus of proof on the predator.
The government’s case
The government justifies this change by saying that Bill C-31 provides for two new grounds for opposition: you have to show that as of the filing date, the applicant was not using or did not intend to use the trademark; or that as of the filing date, the applicant was not entitled to use the trademark.
This shifts the onus to those defending themselves against incursion by a trademark troll or a deliberate piracy. It need not be stated that small business will be basically helpless against such an assault.
Canada justifies these changes by saying that they are required to support international trade agreements. There is no evidence to support this contention, however.
Your only defence is a good offence: formally register everything and keep registrations current. It is probably too late to make the government pass amendments to their bill, although you can try lobbying the senate which still has to ratify the bill which was in third reading in the House as this is being written.
Who do the intellectual property rules protect?
This is just one tiny component of the can of worms called “intellectual property.” The laws are always defended by saying that they protect the creators, but this is nonsense: they always protect the manufacturer, marketer or distributor of the property, while the creative genius is most often left behind.
Today, with the Internet offering so much choice and the impossibility of tracking down copiers across the globe, IP is more and more under assault. Not everyone agrees to play by 19th century rules created to protect western interests. Watch for a whole new structure to begin to emerge, one that promotes sharing of ideas (already happening thanks to the ‘net) and results in more rapid progress.
It’s time to be bold and think of a better structure that doesn’t stifle ingenuity and enterprise in the way that the old IP rules ultimately do. There has to be a creative genius in Winnipeg who can come up with an idea to fix this mess.

Culture Days give voice to a legion of artists

Penelope Kerr, third from right, Culture Days staff and the student reporter interns with Marci Ien.
Penelope Kerr, third from right, Culture Days staff and the student reporter interns with Marci Ien.

By Penelope Kerr

“The arts give a voice to so many kids,” said co-host of CTV’s Canada AM, Marci Ien, at the Culture Days awards dinner. Marci – who invited me to use her first name the instant I tried “Ms. Ien” – hosted the dinner, which was held at the Fort Garry Hotel as the grand finale to the second annual National Congress on Culture.
Earlier that afternoon she had met with four students with an interest in journalism and arts/culture selected for the Culture Days and CTV Student Reporters Internship, to share her experiences and advice with them – and I was lucky enough to be one of them.
As co-host of Canada AM, she knows a thing or two about developing a very recognizable voice, and even to some degree expressing it through the arts, as she told us that her first television experience was as a child actress on the series “Circle Square.”
I can certainly attest to the powerful truth of the statement Marci made that evening. As a fairly shy kid, I often found that the masterfully crafted words of my favourite authors expressed my feelings much better than I ever could, and their pages were my voice before I realized I could have one of my own by writing myself.
Even now, as a literature student, I constantly go back to the novels, poems and stories that speak to me on an intimate level to find inspiration for my own voice as a writer and person. And, as communications & content coordinator for Culture Days, I enjoyed contributing to the National Congress, an event that is all about bringing together a diversity of voices that have been shaped by the arts and giving them the chance to be heard at a national forum.
The voices I had the opportunity to hear at the Congress were certainly diverse and illuminating each in their own way. The event began with a keynote from the Honourable Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, who provided some numbers: every year the arts and culture sectors bring almost $50 billion into the Canadian economy, and neatly summed up the reason everyone was there with her statement that “Our Canadian identity is in fact defined by arts, culture, heritage and language.”

Culture Days dancers at the National Congress on Culture in Winnipeg.
Dancers at the National Congress on Culture in Winnipeg.

When we talk about our arts and culture, what we’re really talking about is who we are – and what discussion could be more important or intriguing than that?
The combination of voices gathered on stage for the several Congress panels sparked some great ideas and advice as well. During the “Is your organization relevant throughout the year?” panel, Angela J. Cassie of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights discussed the importance of listening to and exchanging with your audience/community when building a cultural institution: “There’s nothing more powerful than a conversation.”
The digital marketing panel shared helpful bits of information such as the optimal times to Tweet (during lunch hour and at 6 p.m., when people are on a break), tips from Plank’s Warren Wilansky (Experiment! It’s the best way to learn about digital marketing) and Unbounce’s Liesl Barrell (the real and the digital should reinforce each other; they’re not separate worlds), among others. The notable final panel was last year’s hit Culture Days success stories, during which panelist Crystal Kolt of the Flin Flon Arts Council, 2013 Culture Days Antoni Cimolino Leadership Award winner, beautifully described art as “a romance between artist and audience… it’s all about relationships.”
All Congress delegates had a chance to bring their voices to the table in a series of diverse breakout workshops on themes such as municipal engagement, granting programs and website/social media management.
During the time allocated to these workshops, I was engaging with the memorable and generous voice of Marci, who mentored me and my fellow students in reporting by telling us some great stories about her rise to success, the ins and outs of interviewing – and Frank Sinatra – among other things.
She emphasized the importance of crafting an original voice for yourself by honing your writing and research skills, and then using those skills to target unique points of interest and ask fresh questions that will help you draw out the authentic voices of the people you speak to.
During a tour of the CTV Winnipeg studio, another component of the Student Reporters Internship, we were also told about the way the current “shrinking newsroom” phenomenon is causing news agencies to look for fewer reporters who can do more with their voices: multitaskers who are able to express themselves competently not just in writing but through shooting video, taking photographs, etc.
In this day and age it sometimes seems increasingly difficult to make your voice heard, but there are many channels through which to convey it, from Twitter to the local newspaper to art. The 2014 Congress was a reminder that arts and culture truly can “give a voice” to all and remain as vital and powerful a communications platform as they have always been throughout history – but also that they can mingle with other media (digital, news, etc.) and other sectors (business, academia) to create productive spaces of mutual exchange, discovery and social impact.

Build cities with millennials in mind

Young people want a city where bike lanes matter and are a secure and dedicated path for cyclists.
Young people want a city where bike lanes matter and are a secure and dedicated path for cyclists.
To Winnipeg, With Love Jason Syvixay
To Winnipeg, With Love
Jason Syvixay

I’m writing this letter to you as I depart to Denver, CO to learn more about city building best practice at the International Downtown Association (IDA) spring conference. As I wait to board my flight, I can’t help but notice crowds of young people all departing – most likely in pursuit of new opportunities, scenery, and jobs. Or even simply to escape after a frigid winter.
While this is a growing trend and an unfortunate reality in many small cities like ours, there are many of us millennials that actively choose to stay right here in Manitoba’s prairie capital. Young people who love and celebrate Winnipeg’s long and cold prairie winter nights. And the creative artists, makers, and entrepreneurs who thrive on our city’s relentless drive and pulse.
We make the most of our wicked seasons whether it’s at an offbeat festival spent outdoors when it’s 50 C below, or an afternoon spent skipping work to enjoy a frosty pint (or two) at a bustling summer patio. Or cycling throughout the Exchange District into Chinatown to sip and sample unique culinary treats.
We are the city’s heartbeat and we’re eager to make a difference in the social, economic, and sustainable progress of our city.
Millennials are building roots in Winnipeg – a city that is becoming more and more kinetic and buoyant. They are embracing the city and all of its quirks, challenges, and opportunities for growth and renewal – eager to tackle our city’s past mistakes to forge a more prosperous road ahead.
How can our city harness this energy to retain and attract young people to live and invest here?
Growing up, I often felt disconnected from the city. Like many of my friends, my perception of Winnipeg was that there was nothing to do, limited creative outlets, and no job opportunities. I wanted nothing more than to leave Winnipeg and to attend school in a bigger metropolitan city.
This is true for most millennials. They move away when they feel disenfranchised when their city fails to support growth and community vibrancy.
But then I was accepted to the University of Winnipeg, a truly remarkable downtown campus that instilled in me this idea that Winnipeggers have a significant role to play in the building of their city and communities – growing them from the ground up. This was a challenge that excited me.
While places like New York are bursting at the seams with construction, tourism and trade, it’s hard to feel part of that change – hard to know where to start and how to contribute. In Winnipeg, the vast, open blue skies symbolize our tremendous opportunity and ability to create together – and how our potential is limitless.
You can feel part of Winnipeg; connected, and part of the conversation. You can test ideas here, be entrepreneurial and creative, and plant seeds and see them sprout.
So my advice for city practitioners is to build cities with millennials in mind. Create opportunities for young people to contribute, to dialogue, and to discuss their city’s growth. A speaker at the IDA conference presented some sound logic: “Businesses want millennials. Millennials want bike lanes. Bike lanes attract millennials. Millennials attract business.”
Sounds simple.
Young people want a city where there are bike lanes that actually work, with painted lines that provide a sense of security or a dedicated path that doesn’t treat cyclists as second-class citizens.
Young people want a city where vacant storefronts are activated with cool and innovative products driven by young business owners all hungry to contribute to our city’s economy.
Young people want a dense urban core – concrete softened with green space and parks, trees on boulevards, and patios galore.
We need to be that city. We need to be a city that embraces the creativity of its youth, empowering and nurturing its ideas. It’s time to let young people take the reign.
During my time at the Downtown BIZ, I’ve been given a chance to lead. The BIZ’s executive director and the board have given me an incredible opportunity to help shape our city, bringing with me ideas and a creative spark from my peers.
What city do we want to leave behind for the generations to come? Let’s listen to young people and they might even teach our cities a thing or two.
Jason Syvixay is the managing director of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ. He was recently recognized as Manitoba Communicator of the Year, the youngest-ever recipient of the award.

The Globe Theatre didn’t die in vain

The stately Portage Place continues to enhance its offerings for youth. Photo by AJ Batac
The stately Portage Place continues to enhance its offerings for youth. Photo by AJ Batac
Fresh Cut - Brenlee Coates
Fresh Cut – Brenlee Coates

The closing of the Globe Theatre in Portage Place is a major letdown for cinema enthusiasts, true. The theatre often projected movies from outside the mainstream, honing in on festival favourites and independent productions you couldn’t find elsewhere.
But Portage Place can’t be written off with it.
The mall was recently teeming with visitors to its fourth annual community expo for youth and their families. It invited 20 youth-serving agencies to set up booths in Edmonton Court and share what they do to assist youth in finding work, to help them succeed in school or to provide a space and community for them in which to create art.
“This is really a meeting place; it’s a community centre,” says Olga Pogrebinskaia, marketing coordinator for Portage Place. “It’s becoming that, and it’s been that all along, but now more and more people are realizing.
“For me, my push is… that we give youth resources, we give them an outlet for creativity, and we empower them through leadership and entrepreneur strategies.”
Studio 393, which has been housed in Portage Place for the last three years, is a youth-led arts studio on the main floor of Portage Place near the infamous fountain. It connects youth with a multitude of organizations while providing an easily accessible space for youth to create within the community.
Its aim is also to counter the negative stereotypes surrounding the image of youth frequenting the downtown – and the studio has maintained steady attendance.
“They are tremendous help with recruiting the youth downtown, and making leaders out of them.
“It’s so empowering to everybody,” says Pogrebinskaia. “It’s encouraging that they can sustain a program and keep it going and keep people coming through the door constantly.”
Naturally, the Downtown BIZ and Portage Place partnership on the youth entrepreneurs pop-up shop, Launch It!, was a testament to the mall’s commitment to equip youth with outlets for success and creativity, as well.
When Launch It!’s run came to an end, one of the young entrepreneurs, Lennard Taylor, chose to rent out the space (at a generous rate offered by Portage Place) to form his first permanent store.
He has partnered with several other local designers to attract more support for these artists and to showcase their works to the downtown crowd – which he knows from experience proves fruitful for their businesses.
He now carries shoes from the youth-owned Jose & Markham (which has a store in the Exchange District), menswear from dEDIGER, women’s wear from Andreanne Designs Inc., and handmade jewelry from CJ Tennant and Stella Mazza Designs.
“If I could, he would be my mascot for the shopping centre,” jokes Pogrebinskaia.
“Lennard Taylor was a success story. We have another two youth entrepreneurs who are still looking at setting up shop here.
“We’ll continue investing in things like that. As long as we have space, I don’t see why that cannot be used for something so wonderful.”
The focus on local youth entrepreneurs is a purposeful shift in Portage Place’s framework.
“To me, the ideal image of Portage Place is to be supporting that local young talent and buzzing with excitement,” says Pogrebinskaia.
The youth focus can be felt in Portage Place’s regular programming as well. Besides its annual events like Downtown Moves and the National Youth Arts Week, Portage Place is beginning to stage young artists’ concerts over the lunch hour.
The first performance took place May 30 with two local young folk singers, Ila Barker and Cassidy Mann.
With news of the vacancy of the Globe Theatre location, which officially closed June 15, there were already talks about the space being taken over by the University of Winnipeg.
Engaging the youth from the university is another high priority for Portage Place, and with the local representation in its shops and youth-serving agencies, it may just have a reason to keep them there after class.