KIT Magazine - Winter 2021

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Vol. 33 | No. 3 | Winter 2021 106-1780 Wellington Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3H 1B3 | 204-889-3660 | Toll Free: 1-888-393-8082 | |

Cover Photo: Jan Kushnier RTAM Photo Contest Entry

KEEP IN TOUCH Vol. 33 No.3 • Winter 2021

Published by

Photo by Barbara Reid RTAM Photo Contest Entry

CONTENTS President's Message..............................................................................................................3 Finance Committee Report.............................................................................................. 4 Student Award Winners......................................................................................................5 Committee Highlights......................................................................................................... 6 RTAM Presentation to MTS............................................................................................... 8 Executive Director's Report........................................................................................... 10 Political Advocacy Report On Meeting With MTS ����������������������������������������������� 11 Travel Insurance Checklist...............................................................................................12 Letter from Brie's Parents................................................................................................13 Prestige Travel Insurance Coverage For Trips Outside Canada................... 14 Student Success Portfolio Program Project Benefits for All Involved......15 Looking For A Gift For Your Teenage Relatives For Christmas?..................16 Meet Our Resident Researcher �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������17 In Memoriam and Life Members �������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 18 Okanagan Chapter.............................................................................................................. 19 St. James-Assiniboia Chapter........................................................................................ 19 Creating Miracles: Raising Profiles �����������������������������������������������������������������������������20 Remembrance Day..............................................................................................................21 A Post-Retirement Option..............................................................................................24 My First Year Teaching......................................................................................................26 Travel Is Coming Back, And Travellers Are Booking Their Future Travel Plans! ������������������������������������������������������������������������ 27 Photo Contest Winners..............................................................................................28-31



106-1780 Wellington Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3H 1B3 Phone 204-889-3660 • 1-888-393-8082 Email: • Editorial Committee: Chair: Beth Smith Members: Rosalie Bornn, Joan Dawson, Joan Goble, Doreen Sage E-mail: Executive Director: Gordon Fardoe Email: Office Administrator: Denise Bellesia Email: Member Services Coordinator: Dianne Casar Email: Board of Directors 2021-2022 President: William Cann Vice -President: JoAnne Hoyak Secretary: John Sushelnitsky Treasurer: Pat Bowslaugh Directors-at-Large Linda Blair Jack Fraser Guy Hansen Alison Logan Ken Malcolm Dave Najduch Peggy Prendergast Linda Scott Beth Smith Design: Gayl Punzalan Creative Director, Blue Ink Media Email: Website: Images : Adobe Stock, FreeePik & Pixabay except the ones provided by the contributors. Copyright © 2021 by RTAM

All materials for the next issue of KIT must be emailed with no formatting to and received by February 9, 2022 5:00 p.m. Materials published here do not necessarily represent the policies or views of RTAM. The Editorial Committee reserves the right to print, reject and/or edit for clarity, all materials received. 2 n

RTAM KIT Winter 2021

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: RTAM, 106-1780 Wellington Ave., Winnipeg, MB R3H 1B3

President's Message

T Bill Cann RTAM President 2021 - 2022



here have been several important developments since the September edition of KIT. I remain indebted to the Executive Officers, Executive Director, Office Staff, individual Directors, Committee members and Chapter Presidents for their valued assistance in successfully addressing important issues and moving our organization forward. First, RTAM is shifting to a more aggressive political advocacy stance. Since late August, the Executive and Political Advocacy Committee have developed a document outlining RTAM’s Five Critical Political ASKs. (See Political Advocacy Report.) ACER-CART‘s New Mode software program will enable the RTAM office to the send brochures to candidates throughout the province and enable RTAM members to send election letters to every candidate in their riding during the next provincial election. Solutions to the Succession/ Leadership Crisis must remain a major focus for the Executive and Directors over the next 5 months. In addition to appeals to Chapter Presidents and current RTAM Directors, I will start personally contacting all committee members and encouraging them to run for election at the May AGM.

The most significant developments involve the Manitoba Teachers’ Society (MTS) and the Winnipeg Teachers' Association (WTA). On September 23, 2021, JoAnne Hoyak and I met in person with MTS President James Bedford for the fifth bimonthly MTS/RTAM Liaison meeting. Issues addressed included RTAM access to MTS staff advice on communication issues, MTS’ new Mental Health support plan, and ways of strengthening relationships between our two organizations. On October 30, 2021, RTAM presented its third pre-retirement seminar of the year with 217 active teacher registrations. This represents an increase of over 400% compared to registrations of past seminars and was due to the additional advertising provided by the MTS. Due to a Zoom license glitch, only 125 registrants were able to attend. RTAM will repeat the seminar on November 20 to accommodate everyone. On November 3, 2021, Dave Najduch and I made a presentation to the Group Benefits Committee of the Winnipeg Teachers’ Association. Bill 64’s proposed amalgamation of school divisions in Metro Winnipeg likely would have triggered the termination of the WTA’s Manulife Extended Health Next page →


PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE President's Message . . . continued from previous page Insurance for some 2500 WTA retirees. Starting in March 2021, Dave Najduch and myself began a series of seven meetings with Robert Dowden (Johnson Inc. VP, Group Benefits) and Jessica Simpson to develop an alternative plan for WTA retirees. With the collapse of Bill 64, we pivoted our approach to develop stronger ties with the WTA and promote the Prestige Travel Insurance plan. I am delighted to report that RTAM’s first group travel tour sold out in three weeks and has a 16-person waiting list. The Group Tour to Haida Gwaii was so popular that a second trip is tentatively scheduled for a June 12th departure. I hope this experience will encourage more of our members to engage with Trip Merchant when making travel plans.

I have requested the KIT Editorial committee to consider ways to significantly increase the number of digital/electronic subscribers. Past efforts have been unsuccessful and currently only four hundred of our 10,000 members receive an electronic copy of KIT. On behalf of our 10,000 members, I would like to thank our amazing staff for managing the move to the new RTAM office so efficiently and under challenging circumstances. Special commendations are due to Denise Bellesia and Dianne Casar for completing the packing, unpacking, and organizing of the move into this new and smaller office space. Gordon Fardoe is arranging for proposals for the best equipment options to run effective hybrid meetings from the new office. n ~Edited by the KIT Editorial Committee.

Finance Committee Report Pat Bowslaugh, RTAM Treasurer


andling the coffers on behalf of you, our over 10 000 members, has involved several changes during the last several months. The purpose of these changes is to manage our financial practice in an updated business manner. We have included advertising and/or using a tender system in securing the supports we need. For example, we had four responses as we explored the position of auditor. From these submissions your RTAM Board members were able to make a recommendation based on availability, competency and cost. Your approval will be sought by motion at the AGM in May. With our “Manitoba 150” book project we received three tenders based on the same kind of detail. We have also employed part time support services

4 n

RTAM KIT Winter 2021

for the preparation of KIT, managing the RTAM web page and the repair and update of our computer systems. Each of these services is secured with a contract which defines details of the scope of the tasks and the wages involved. In the handling of our funds it is to be noted that over the years our organization has money reserved in five GIC investments with Cambrian Credit Union where we also operate with both savings and chequing accounts. In spite of enduring the current COVID pandemic our financial situation is solid. We trust that these modifications ensure that our finances continue to meet the goals of our organization. We continue to encourage every retired teacher to join the RTAM organization. n


Student Award Winners Peggy Prendergast, Chair, Student Awards Committee

Taylor Bially

Halayna Boden

Brooke Bowser

Katie Skwarchuk

RTAM is pleased to congratulate the following winners and their sponsors for 2021:

AWARD WINNER Taylor Bially Halayna Boden Brooke Bowser Katie Skwarchuk

LOCATION Stuartburn, MB Russell, MB Winnipeg, MB Winnipeg, MB

SPONSOR Jarvis Bially Gary Boden Gladys Bellamy Joan M. Russell

RELATIONSHIP father grandfather grandmother aunt

Brief description of post-secondary plans provided by the award recipients.

younger players in their skill development and love for the game.

Taylor Bially

Brook Bowser

Over the next four years, my plan is to complete my Bachelor of Commerce Honours degree with a major in either Finance or Marketing. Currently, I am not certain of my career path, but I plan to join the Asper School of Business co-op program to gain knowledge and work experience in my chosen field as I complete my degree. Throughout my studies, I intend to volunteer and stay involved in extracurricular activities such as sports and student groups. I would like to thank the Retired Teachers’ Association for this opportunity, as well as my dad for being my sponsor!

I am currently enrolled in sciences at the University of Manitoba. I’m looking forward to these next few years and to learning as much as I can. While I am still exploring my options and interests, I am planning on going into pharmacy or another evidence-based practice. I can’t wait to further experience campus life when it’s safe and to become involved with that community.

Halayna Boden I am currently enrolled in the Faculty of Kinesiology at the University of Calgary, with a long-term goal of becoming a Physical Therapist. I have always balanced an active lifestyle with my academics, most passionately playing softball and volleyball. This summer, I plan to continue to be involved in sport, either through playing softball or coaching

Katie Skwarchuk This fall marked the beginning of my postsecondary pursuits at the University of Manitoba. For the next six years, I will be working towards a Bachelor of Music degree with focus on the French Horn, in addition to a Music Education degree. I am eager and grateful to be getting back to in-person music-making after these hard pandemic times! I am excited to see where my musical journey takes me over the years. My long-term goals are to share music with others, through both teaching in the school system and performing! RTAM.MB.CA n 5



Committee Highlights

ACER-CART JoAnne Hoyak, RTAM Vice President, ACER-CART Director The ACER-CART Executive and the Executive Director have provided superlative support to the ACER- CART membership in terms of retired teacher advocacy during the recent Federal election campaign. You will have had access to the excellent brochure available to all members through KIT, the RTAM website, the ACER-CART website, and the capable distribution by our Chapter Chairs to chapter members personally. You will have been made aware of the current topics of utmost concern, the rationale behind them and the suggestions for implementation. This model design will be used by RTAM in its ongoing political advocacy work. Of particular note is the capability of ACERCART’s “NEW MODE” software which facilitates letter writing campaigns to pertinent recipients and for which RTAM contributed funding.

Benefits Committee Pat Bowslaugh, Chair The committee is currently reviewing the Benefits plans and preparing to make recommendations for the 2022-2023 plan year. • There is no recommended change in premiums to be paid on the coverage provided for the Prestige Travel Plan. • Wording clarification on the return to Canada requirement for the 62 and 93 day travel plans has been drafted and will be shared when finalized. • There is a recommended increase in the dental plan premium of 5.9%. • The committee is reviewing a number of changes to the health plan which will be provided at a future date.

Communications (KIT Editorial Committee) Beth Smith, Chair • Two meetings were held in August to go over the procedures established at our May meeting with Gayl Punzalan (KIT Publisher) and all of the RTAM staff members, to get KIT out to our RTAM members. • There are 4 edits by the KIT editors. (1) Each 6 n

RTAM KIT Winter 2021

article separately, (2) KIT Proof 1, (3) KIT Proof 2, and (4) KIT Final. Teamwork is definitely the key to an almost perfect magazine. • The KIT Editorial Committee consists of: Rosalie Bornn, Joan Dawson, Joan Goble, Doreen Sage and Beth Smith (Chair)

Communications (Public Relations) Guy Hansen, Chair The committee has worked on 3 initiatives this summer: • Promotion of United Nations Day of the Older Person, Celebration of Remembrance Day on November 11, 2021 and advertising of our UCN/RTAM bursary. • The PR Committee would like to remind RTAM members about registering for the Trip Merchant Newsletter and the Union Savings Discount Program. • The committee reviewed the new funding model for our UCN Award/Bursary and the possibility of honouring members posthumously with donations to this bursary.

Membership and Chapters Beth Smith, Chair • Chapter Initiative Grants (CIG) are available for Chapter engagement. The amount of the grant is $250.00. The application form can be found on the RTAM website, • An advertisement for the RTAM Pre-retirement Seminar was placed in the Manitoba Teachers’ Society on-line newsletter, The Sub, as the Manitoba Teacher will not be in print form until January 2022. As a result there were 217 registrants for the October 30, 2021 seminar. Due to some technical difficulties, the number of participants decreased. • We have decided to offer another Pre-Retirement Seminar on November 20, 2021, offered by Zoom beginning at 9:30 am. Information was sent out to all of the previous registrants inviting them to the seminar.

Pension Committee Allison Logan, Chair The Pension Committee met on September 1, 2021. The members welcomed to the committee for the coming year include: Joan Dawson, JoAnne and

Jules Hoyak, Lynn Land, Mel Montgomery, Bill Cann and Alison Logan, Chair. Jeff Norton and Brad Prokop brought information and updates from TRAF. A discussion of committee goals and future plans took place. The committee will be meeting monthly.

Student Awards Committee Peggy Prendergast, Chair The Student Awards Committee met on the mornings of August 30, 2021 and September 2, 2021. Each member, on the days in between and using the previously prepared manual and matrix, assessed the 58 applications RTAM received. Four applicants were chosen for RTAM Board approval at the September 16 Board meeting. Results will be posted on following notification to the award winners and their RTAM sponsors.

Student Success Portfolio Joan Zaretsky, Chair We continue to add articles to the RTAM website including our “November Discussion Starter” and “Mentoring”. We are starting to plan with Gordon the development of two You Tube videos about our Program. We have redesigned our website to make it more reader friendly and helpful to our sponsors. We have a researcher in place, Andrew Augustyn, a U of M Masters student. We had our first invitation for a Committee member to speak on our Program at an RTAM Chapter meeting! We continue to seek applications from RTAM members who wish to support their family member in the development of a portfolio. We decided to open up the eligibility criteria to include students in Grades 9 and 10 as reflected in our revised application found online. Portfolios are now available in French.

Wellness Advocacy Linda Blair, Chair

Posture Pitfalls and Best Practices for Optimal Spinal Health" by Dr. Dan Timmerman, Lindenwoods Chiropractic 2.

Friday, October 1, 2021 - "Successful Aging/Fall Prevention" by Vicki Russenholt, Victoria Lifeline. Those present received current information on wellness issues pertinent to older adults.


Tuesday, October 26, 2021 - “Empowering All Canadians to Live Healthier Lives Uninterrupted by Heart Disease and Stroke" by Jennifer Michaud, Health Policy & Engagement Specialist with Heart & Stroke in Alberta and Northwest Territories.

4. Tuesday, November 2, 2021 - “Trip Merchant: Travel More, Save More!” with Ryan Mikucki, CoFounder, Trip Merchant. Our Committee meeting was held on Tuesday, November 9, 2021. Results of recent evaluation forms were reviewed. Positive feedback on various aspects of presentations was noted. The process of engaging with potential presenters was conveyed to Committee members. Upcoming presentations were noted with special attention to our next presentation on Wednesday, November 24, 2021 as it starts at 1 p.m. and is a lengthy presentation. Also, there is a Mental Health presentation on Wednesday, January 12, 2022. At our January Committee meeting, we will be looking at formalizing plans for presentations in September and October 2022. The office has a list of possible presenters that we add to as we discover new possibilities. We will access this list as we plan for future presentations. Committee Chair, Linda Blair, advised Committee members that 2021-2022 will be her last year as Wellness Advocacy Committee Chair. She will be putting forth her name for the position of RTAM President for 2022-2023. She encouraged those members who are not RTAM Directors to consider becoming Directors. n

To date, the Wellness Advocacy Committee has hosted four online presentations: 1. Tuesday, September 28, 2021 - "Retirement RTAM.MB.CA n 7

RTAM Presentation to MTS Objectives The objectives of this Retired Teachers’ Association of Manitoba (RTAM) presentation to The Manitoba Teachers’ Society (MTS) Provincial Executive are twofold: 1.


To seek, from the MTS, public recognition that RTAM is the official voice of retired teachers in Manitoba. To develop and sign a mutual letter of understanding which will formalize and strengthen the relationship between the MTS and RTAM.

RTAM Background • With great foresight former Manitoba Teachers’ Society Staff Officer, George Strang envisioned creating the Retired Teachers’ Association of Manitoba. With a generous monetary support from The Manitoba Teachers’ Society, George contacted several key newly retired teachers, including Murray Smith, who volunteered to design the details for this organization. RTAM was officially incorporated on October 24, 1989. • Now in our 32nd year of existence, RTAM currently has 10,000 members who pay a fee of $3.00 per month, deducted by TRAF, to access a plethora of insurance plans, services, wellness webinars and links to organizations advocating for Older Persons. Our membership represents approximately 2/3 of the total number of retired teachers in Manitoba. • We have a four-member executive which include a President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary. Our volunteer Board is comprised of the Executive and nine other Directors, each chairing a different committee. • Our office is located at 106-1780 Wellington Avenue and is attached to the Hilton Airport Hotel. RTAM employs three full time staff members including an Executive Director, Office Manager and Membership Services Co-ordinator. • RTAM offers travel, extended health, and dental insurance plans through Johnson Inc. RTAM 8 n

RTAM KIT Winter 2021

Bill Cann, RTAM President

is not competing with either The Manitoba Teachers’ Society or the Winnipeg Teachers’ Association for members of the Manitoba School Employees Benefits Plans or Manulife Insurance Plans. However, we do offer a superior Prestige Travel Insurance program and we encourage teachers who are retiring to join RTAM to access this and our many other services. • Effective January 1, 2021 RTAM offered retiring teachers their first-year membership for free. • RTAM provides three Pre-Retirement seminars annually for active teachers. • RTAM has 18 local chapters located throughout Manitoba and 3 out-of-province chapters in Calgary, Kelowna, and on Vancouver Island. • According to Josh Watt, Executive Director of the Manitoba School Boards Association, retired teachers comprise 80-85% of the substitute teacher supply chain in rural Manitoba.

Activism • RTAM published its position on Bill 64 in April 2021. We called on the Government to recognize our members’ collective and individual roles as Education Elders, parents, grandparents, and volunteer leaders in local communities throughout Manitoba. We supported the concerns of The Manitoba Teachers’ Society and requested a consultation role in resolving many of the issues posed in Bill 64 and the K-12 Education Review. • We actively participated in the “Slam the Door on 64” campaign. • In conjunction with the national retired teachers’ organization (ACER-CART), we actively participated in electronically distributing a National Seniors Health Care Strategy to every federal election candidate. Indeed, RTAM’s extra financial support made possible the purchase of the New Mode software which facilitated this national distribution and subsequent letter writing campaign.

• RTAM President’s letter (January 21, 2021) to the Prime Minister, the Manitoba Premier and appropriate federal and provincial politicians urged that that Long Term Care Facilities’ supervision and standards be placed under the Canada Health Act. • RTAM is currently advocating for recognition as the official voice of retired teachers in Manitoba, a seat on the TRAF Board, a seat on the Minister’s Education Stakeholders Committee and the development of an action plan with Government and MTS concerning pension sustainability. • To this end RTAM is planning to utilize the New Mode software to facilitate a letter writing campaigns prior to and during future provincial elections. RTAM will also develop a “force multiplier” by engaging relatives, friends, and neighbors of our 10,000 members for support in our endeavors.

Relationship with MTS • Since 1989, Government and Education Stakeholders have largely ignored RTAM as the unwanted foster child of MTS. • In the past several years, RTAM and MTS have moved closer together. The improved relationship owes much to the work of individuals from both organizations. Some of the initial steps in this process were the 2018 negotiations and joint submission to the TRAF Board on the Disbursement of the Restricted Surplus and the cooperative planning for MTS 100 Anniversary in 2019. • In September 2020, bimonthly Liaison meetings were scheduled to improve communications, strengthen relations, and address critical issues of concern to each organization. The first of many achievements was the development of a joint position on substitute teacher working conditions during the pandemic. Key elements of this agreement were then presented by the MTS President to the Assistant Deputy Minister’s Education Stakeholders Committee. • In October 2020, MTS invited two RTAM Executive

members to attend the Pension Sustainability seminar as observers. • To date, five MTS/RTAM Liaison meetings have been held and have covered a wide range of issues impacting either or both active and retired members. It is generally recognized that these meetings have developed trust and good will based on the leadership and personal friendship of the MTS and RTAM presidents. • MTS recognition of RTAM as the official voice of retired teachers in Manitoba would help formalize this relationship on a go forward basis so it moves beyond individuals and becomes part of a formal, institutional structure. RTAM believes this recognition is critical to enhancing its future negotiations with Government. • RTAM strongly believes that pension sustainability needs to be an important consideration during the upcoming Provincial Bargaining process for both active and retired teachers. The summary of the MTS Pension Sustainability report (October 2020) noted “Reducing ancillary pension benefits such as the early retirement benefits could strengthen future funded status and, therefore sustainability.” • Bill 64 demonstrated that our two organizations are stronger when working together. Speaking to the government as a unified front improves the capacity to make effective changes to pension reform and educational restructuring.

Recommendations • That the MTS publicly recognize RTAM as the official voice of retired teachers in Manitoba. • That the MTS and RTAM develop and sign a letter of understanding covering the next three years. The purpose of the letter is to formalize the relationship between RTAM and the MTS. Prior to the expiration of the terms of the letter, both parties will meet to discuss the advisability of a renewal. The letter could include the following: a.

The Presidents and Vice Presidents of MTS and RTAM meet a minimum of four times Next page → RTAM.MB.CA n 9

Executive Director's Report Gordon Fardoe, RTAM Executive Director Greetings RTAM Membership. It’s Official! The RTAM office has moved. RTAM is now located at 106 – 1780 Wellington Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3H 1B5. I want to thank the office staff, Denise and Dianne, for the incredible effort they put into getting the office unpacked. A temporary staff member was also hired to assist with the heavy lifting. The RTAM audit went extremely well and was presented to the Board of Directors for recommendation. The results will be presented to the membership at the 2022 Annual General Meeting. The RTAM office continues to work on improving the method of disseminating information to the membership electronically. The office has contacted other Provincial organizations and requested electronic copies of their newsletters to share with RTAM members through a link on the website. The office continues to work towards the

goal of keeping information on the website current. Benefits to members have expanded with the Union Savings Discount Program and Trip Merchant. These programs are value-added benefits and I strongly encourage you to sign up to take advantage of the savings if you have not done so already. Work to improve operations continues. The office is currently developing a system to conduct hybrid meetings which combine in-person and on-line attendance at meetings. This will allow for better communication with and to the membership, committees and the board. At our monthly staff meetings a regular topic is the improvement of member services including communications. Please feel free to contact us anytime. The RTAM staff are here to support the activities of our 10,000 members. Have a wonderful Holiday Season! n

RTAM Presentation . . . continued from previous page per school year to discuss issues of mutual importance and/or significance. b. Each organization accord the other with observer status at their respective Annual General Meeting. With the permission of the chair, the observer would be allowed to ask questions and respond to questions. They would not be allowed to vote or participate in debate. c.

Each organization invite the other to make an annual presentation to its Group Benefits Committee.

d. Provide RTAM observer status at MTS Collective Bargaining Seminars and Regional Meetings chosen by RTAM. With

10 n RTAM KIT Winter 2021

the permission of the chair, the observer would be allowed to ask questions and respond to questions. They would not be allowed to vote or participate in debate. e.

Representatives from RTAM and MTS be provided with time at their respective retirement seminars to bring greetings and provide information. (Between 10-20 minutes at each seminar or a length of time mutually agreed upon.)

Note: any costs associated with RTAM members attendance at the various functions of MTS described in the letter would be paid for by RTAM. Any costs associated with MTS members attending RTAM functions would be paid for by MTS. n


Political Advocacy Report On Meeting With MTS John Sushelnitsky, Chair, Political Advocacy


hen Premier Pallister resigned and opened the door for new leadership, it seemed like a great opportunity to once again place RTAM’s priorities, our wish list, in front of the government. In some respects, it is not a new list having been presented to Ministers of Education Wishart, Goertzen and Cullen and NDP Ministers before them. On November 3, 2021, the PA Committee reported that there had been no response to the request for a meeting with either leadership candidate for the PC Party. A further request will be made once she is known. It is hoped that the new premier will take notice. After discussion at the Board and Committee levels, the Political Advocacy Committee was tasked with the creation of the current Requests for Action (“Asks”). This resulted in the Five Asks and accompanying rationales, a letter of support from 2011 and RTAM’s position on Bill 64. The list of five “Asks” is being printed in KIT to inform our membership about RTAM’s current priorities and actions. The other political Parties will be contacted once a meeting with the government has taken place. Some of these documented Requests for Action (Asks) go back to 2011. Since 1989 RTAM has been a strong collective voice representing 10,000 retired teachers in the following areas: • Pension support and political advocacy. • Social connections and activities. • Group and Travel Insurance Plans • Communications. • Health and Welfare

If you become Premier of Manitoba, would you agree to consider enacting the following proposals of the Retired Teachers’ Association of Manitoba (RTAM)? 1. Recognize in legislation the role of the Retired Teachers’ Association of Manitoba (RTAM) as the organization which speaks for and acts on behalf of all retired teachers in Manitoba, as did Mr. McFayden, leader of the Progressive Conservative Party in 2011. Rationale: In the beginning stage, retired teachers were aided in the creation of their organization by the Manitoba Teachers’ Society (MTS), a union to which all teachers belonged. Membership in RTAM was and remains voluntary. Today RTAM has 10,000 members and continues to grow. The interests and pursuits of the MTS and RTAM are not identical and so it is time to recognize the growth and independence of the retired teachers’ organization. Currently, seven of ten provinces give legal recognition to their retired teacher organizations. 2.

Create a seat for RTAM on the Teachers' Retirement Allowances Fund (TRAF). Rationale: Currently, TRAF has three persons nominated by the Government and three persons nominated by MTS. RTAM, ironically, is not permitted to nominate a person even though it is the economic welfare of retired teachers that is being decided. Recognizing RTAM as the official voice of retired teachers allows the Government to create a seat for the 10,000 retired teachers. n


Travel Insurance Checklist Make an informed decision-choose the product that’s right for you 1. Did you know? Coverage under the majority of group Extended Health Plans may not provide adequate coverage for medical emergencies you may incur while travelling out of province/territory of residence. It is cheaper for most travelers to buy a Multi-Trip Annual plan rather than insurance for each trip. Purchasing Trip Cancellation Insurance separately can sometimes add as much as $50 to $400 to the cost of each trip.

2. Important things to consider when shopping for Travel Insurance YOUR SITUATION


Have you had a serious illness?

Pre-existing medical conditions, exclusions, and limitations in the policy

Have you made pre-paid arrangements for a trip?

Trip cancellation, Interruption & Delay included in your coverage

Are there age restrictions on the policy?

Age limitations in the policy

Do you have a lifetime limit on your retiree Extended Health Insurance Coverage?

Protection of lifetime Extended Health Benefits (in the event of a claim)

Are you taking your vehicle or driving an RV?

Vehicle return Coverage

Worried about lost baggage?

Baggage and personal Effects Benefits

3. Key questions to ask before you purchase: • Are there restrictions on the number of days you are covered (from the day of departure from your province/territory of residence to the actual day of return)? • Does the policy exclude coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, if your emergency arises because of a pre-existing condition? 12 n RTAM KIT Winter 2021

• How long do you have to be stable without new symptoms, treatment, or changes in medication prior to your date of departure for coverage to be in place? • Will the policy provide emergency return home by air ambulance and/or medical escort if required? • If you are taking multiple trips, does the policy allow for unlimited trips in a specified time period or are you required to purchase coverage for each trip you take throughout the year? • Can you extend coverage while on a trip by calling your insurance company?



What is the maximum amount of coverage per person?

$5,000,000 per policy year for Sudden and Unforeseen eligible emergency medical expenses

Are emergency medical expenses for hospital, physician, surgical and medical treatment, medication, x-rays and nursing services covered?

Travel insurance plan covers emergency care. Routine or elective treatment is not covered.

Trip Cancellation Insurance- is it included or will you have topurchase separately?

Up to $8,000 per person, per trip included

Will your pre-paid arrangements & return home be covered?

Up to $8,000 per person, per trip included

Is coverage available regardless of your age?

Yes, no age limit

Are claims paid directly and up-front or do you have to pay first and send in receipts to be reimbursed?

Prestige pays up front (whenever possible)

Does the policy have a mandatory Optional deductibles $1000 and or optional deductible? $5000

Is there an automatic re-issue of the policy - assuring that you Yes, the policy re-issues arenever without your emergency automatically April 1st. travel medical coverage?

Is there coverage for multiple trips throughout the year?

Yes, the Base Plan provides unlimited number of 62-day or 93-day trips outside Canada. There is no duration limit outside your province of residence

Is coverage for longer trips available?

Yes, a Supplemental Plan is available to cover trips lasting 94 to 182 days (up to 212 days in BC, MB, NL & ON).

Are premiums based on health status?


Are Pre-Exiting medical conditions covered? For both emergency medical and trip cancellation coverage?


Does the policy provide for loss of Yes, $1,500 per insured person to baggage? a maximum of $3,000 per family. Is coverage available regardless of your age?

Yes, no age limit

Are monthly payments available?

Yes, monthly deductions are available through Bank or pension withdrawal- no fees.

Are COVID-19 medical claims covered

Yes, Medical emergency insurance benefits include coverage for eligible emergencies related to COVID-19, however we will not provide Trip cancellation/ Interruption coverage for any claims related directly or indirectly to COVID-19

Are there sub-limits on COVID related travel medical claims


Call Johnson Inc. at 1.877.989.2600 to receive your Prestige Travel Insurance Quote or visit

Letter from Brie's Parents Rick and Susan Phillips Hello Pat and Guy! This is Brie's mom, Susan. I just wanted to take a minute to thank you both (and RTAM) for all you have done for Brie. I know she has expressed her gratitude to you both but there aren't enough words in the world to properly thank you. There have been many moments of awe, thankfulness and joy throughout this journey, which appears to be only beginning! Thank you for seeing the potential in Brie's book and for your constant support and guidance through the process. What a way to start her teaching career! I have always taught my girls that the harder you work, the luckier you get and this definitely is the best possible example of this. You have allowed her to share her Grandma Connie's legacy for years to come. It is so nice to see her become more confident in her art, writing and public speaking, you have ignited a spark and I am excited to see where it goes! I know the future holds great things and she will always remember your encouragement and generosity and will pay it forward! It is wonderful to see educators who continue to teach and inspire even after retirement! You are appreciated! n

Johnson Insurance is a tradename of Johnson Inc. (“JI”), a licensed insurance intermediary, and operates as Johnson Insurance Services in British Columbia. This insurance product is underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada (“RSA”) and administered by JI. Valid provincial or territorial health plan coverage required. The eligibility requirements, terms, conditions, limitations, and exclusions which apply to the described coverage are as set out in the policy. Policy wordings prevail. JI and RSA share common ownership.


Prestige Travel Insurance Coverage For Trips Outside Canada


lanning to travel outside Canada? Prestige Travel Insurance offers two Base Plan options: a 62-day option, and a 93-day option. Decide which is best for you: 62-day Base Plan: If you’re planning to travel outside of Canada for no more than 62 consecutive days (counting your day of departure as Day 1, this would mean you MUST be back in Canada no later than day 62), this is the plan for you. As long as your stay outside Canada isn’t longer than 62 consecutive days, coverage under your 62-day Base Plan remains in effect and can cover additional travel of up to 62 days abroad. If you’re worried about travel delays, you should choose the 93-day Base Plan. 93-day Base Plan: If you’re planning to travel outside of Canada for no longer than 93 consecutive days (counting your day of departure as Day 1, this would mean you MUST be back in Canada no later than day 93), choose this plan. If you’ll be travelling outside of Canada for more than 93 consecutive days, a Supplemental Plan will also be needed. As long as your stay outside Canada isn’t longer than 93 consecutive days, coverage under your 93-day Base Plan remains in effect and can cover additional travel of up to 93 days abroad. Planning to stay outside of Canada for longer than 93 consecutive days? Contact Johnson Inc. to apply for a Supplemental Plan and extend your stay abroad! A Supplemental Plan is tripspecific, meaning it covers just that one trip. The Supplemental Plan is needed until the day you

14 n RTAM KIT Winter 2021

return to your home province, and you must be in your home province for at least 24 hours before covering a new trip under your 93-day Base Plan. Are you planning to travel out of your home province but stay within Canada? Both the 62-day and the 93-day Prestige Travel Insurance Base Plan options include unlimited travel within Canada. With either plan, you can travel for an unlimited number of days within a policy year as long as you remain in Canada. Certain benefits don’t apply in your home province. Prestige offers up to $5 million in medical coverage, including medical coverage for some eligible COVID-19 related incidents. Call Johnson to find out more! 1.877.989.2600

The contents of this article are provided by Johnson Inc. for your general information only. Nothing in this article alters the terms or conditions of any insurance policy. Read your policy for a complete description of coverage and contact your insurance provider for coverage and policy details. Travel insurance products are underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada (“RSA”). Valid provincial or territorial health plan coverage required. Travel Assistance provided by Global Excel Management Inc. The eligibility requirements, terms, conditions, limitations and exclusions which apply to the described coverage are as set out in the policy. Policy wordings prevail. Johnson Inc. and RSA share common ownership. © 2021 Johnson Inc. A member of Intact Financial Corporation. Johnson Insurance is a tradename of Johnson Inc. and operates as Johnson Insurance Services in British Columbia and Johnson Inc. in Manitoba. n


Student Success Portfolio Program

Project Benefits for All Involved Joan Zaretsky, Chair, Student Success Portfolios


or those of you who have not yet completed an application to enroll your family member into the Student Success Portfolio Project,

below are some reasons to participate in this “winwin” program. There are benefits for everyone involved!



The project will provide the means and incentive to increase communication between RTAM members and their family high school students they are sponsoring.

Portfolios encourage the collection of artifacts and evidence by the student to support their successful writing of award and scholarships applications.

Recognizing the importance of a post-secondary education, RTAM members can feel pride in the role they will play in supporting their family members to be awarded funding to help with the high costs of today’s world.

Portfolios help students focus on their knowledge, skills and attitudes to support their successful applications for bursaries and scholarship.

This project will provide RTAM members with an opportunity to experience renewed passion in their roles as teacher and mentor working with their family members.

Portfolios help students track their changes and growth in important leadership skills through their high school experience.

RTAM member involvement with their family members will promote positive mental health opportunities during a time when COVID has caused many to experience social and physical isolation.

Portfolios assist the student in becoming more aware of their own learning experiences and history.

RTAM member involvement will support a sense of purpose in their lives and offer them a sense of social value to society.

Portfolios provide a framework to encourage students’ selfassessment leading to a more accurate choice of how they want to spend their future, their career aspirations.

RTAM members will increase their opportunities to know and understand their youth family member's challenges and issues while developing a relationship and creating a sense of trust.

Portfolios provide a framework with resources for building a resume and completing university/college entrance applications as well as job applications.

RTAM members can offer direct input into the writing of the applications to enhance the student's chances of being successful.

Portfolios save the student the time and agony of trying to recall their experiences and gather all their information to complete applications in their graduating year.

NOVEMBER DISCUSSION STARTERS When it is time to apply for Scholarships, Bursaries and/or Awards, it is almost guaranteed that you will need a reference letter as part of the application process. Getting a letter of reference can feel like a challenge, especially if you do not know whom you should ask to supply this important document. Typically, a reference letter provides the Award Committee(s) with valuable insight regarding

your qualities, character, and accomplishments. Whether your referee (person writing the reference letter) knows you well or not, it is a good idea to assist this person with a document where you reflect on your strengths, goals, skills, and significant experiences. The best reference letters come from people who have worked closely with you and who understand the goals of the award for which Next page → RTAM.MB.CA n 15

you are applying. Some examples of people you may consider for your reference letter(s) are teachers, former or current employers, clergy members, coaches, school counsellors/advisers, and leaders of an organization with which you are associated. Your reference(s) can greatly influence your chances of receiving an Award, so make sure you select the best person to represent you based on the Award’s criteria. Whenever someone writes a reference letter for you it should be viewed as a favor that is deserving of appreciation. In the end, the person may be responsible for you receiving an Award, so giving thanks is the polite thing to do. 1.

What Scholarships, Bursaries and/or Awards are you applying for?

RTAM AGM 2022 Important Dates

Chapter Reports..............................................................March 30 Committee Chair Reports...........................................March 30 Distinguished Service Award (DSA) Nominations RTAM DSA...........................................................................March 30 Chapter DSA.............................................................................April 1 Director and Executive Nomination Forms............ April 7 Bios for Director and Executive Nominations.......April 11 AGM Registration................................................................April 14 Committee Member Volunteer Form......................... June 1


RTAM AGM May 3-4, 2022

The Retired Women Teachers' Association (RWTA) to host RTAM's AGM on May 3 - 4, 2022 at the Holiday Inn Winnipeg-Airport West, 2520 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB The Retired Women Teachers' Association is pleased to invite all members to register with RTAM and join us for this special event.

16 n RTAM KIT Winter 2021


What are the criteria for references for each specific Award for which you are applying? 3. Whom should you ask for a reference letter for each Award? Who knows you the best with regards to the specific criteria requested? 4. Once you have chosen whom you will ask to write a reference for you, have a conversation with the referee about the Award(s) for which you are applying. 5. Do you have your information document ready to offer the referee which gives insight into your qualities, character, and accomplishments? 6. Have you written a thank you note to your referee(s)? n

Looking for a gift for your teenage relatives for Christmas? Why not offer them the gift of your Mentoring? Sign up with your high school students to participate in the Student Success Portfolio Program. Your mentoring to support the development of their portfolio would be a lifetime gift as they use their portfolios for bursary, award and scholarship applications, cover letters for jobs, university entrance applications and much more. Portfolios are the gift that keeps on giving and you are the key to opening the doors. Check our website ( for articles and discussion starters to support your mentoring role! SIGN UP TODAY! The application can be found at in the “Student Success Portfolio Ad Hoc Committee”.


Meet Our Resident Researcher


s part of our New Horizon for Seniors Grant, we allocated some funds for a research study to help us determine the effectiveness of our program. We recently were matched with a U of M Masters student to be our researcher. Andrew Augustyn is very excited to do this research as he is interested in the theme of mentoring for his M.Ed thesis. RTAM has sent out letters of invitation to hold interviews on his behalf to those who have signed up for the program. He will be doing two interviews this fall as part of his Qualitative Research Course and then completing our research with eight more interviews in February in order to meet our Grant Report requirements due in March. Enjoy reading his biography below.

Andrew Augustyn Autobiography As a first generation Canadian growing up in the inner city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, I was not only learning how to speak English, but at a young age, realizing the importance of relationship building. This has become a staple in my successful experiences as a multi-sport athlete, such as when I represented Team Canada at the World Martial Arts Games in Killarney, Ireland where I received a Silver medal for our country. These experiences empowered me as a coach and teacher. My late Babcia inspired me with her mentorship, moments of learning with someone special, while enjoying a traditional Sunday with chicken soup. While completing my Bachelor in Education and my Bachelor in Kinesiology through the integrated Education program at University of Winnipeg, I began applying my skills and knowledge to programming with the City of Winnipeg. I administered community drop in centers and facilitated summer camps. From these experiences, I transitioned to ultimately supporting the Career Education Program with Frontier School Division, mentoring students through recreation, career involvement and relationship building within Northern Communities.

My teaching experiences in both rural Manitoba and Winnipeg have inspired me to shape my understanding of inclusion and led me to gain a further understanding in career development, inclusiveness, psychology of human relationships, and universal design for learning as I graduated with a Post Baccalaureate Diploma in Education from the University of Manitoba. More recently, I have been a teacher for ten years, the last six of which have been at Gordon Bell High School. I currently teach a diverse portfolio of Grade 7-12 Physical/Health Education for students in such programs as English as an Additional Language, Special Education, the Learning Assistance Centre, the Adapted Skills Program and the Centre for Adapted Programming. I have continued to teach courses in Land-Based Learning and coach multiple sport teams over the years. As a graduate student pursuing a M. Ed in School Administration, I am an advocate for mentorship, servant leadership, and community building through collaboration. I will be completing a thesis in the near future incorporating these dimensions of human interactions among people in our ever changing world. Educationally, Andrew Augustyn n


In Memoriam April 2021 Rosalia J. Martin – Campbell River, BC May 2021 Rudy G. Engbrecht – Winnipeg, MB Verna G. Eastcott – Beausejour, MB Sandra McMullen – Gibsons, BC June 2021 Paul J. Armstrong – Winnipeg, MB Betty G. Gilfix – Cote St. Luc, QC The above RTAM members who have passed, were regretfully missed from previous editions of KIT. We sincerely apologize to their families.

Natalie Board | Adobe Stock

July 2021 M. Jean Alexander – Neepawa, MB John J. Arendt – Saskatoon, SK Mary Blogowsky – Wadena, SK H. Ernest Braun – Winnipeg, MB Gary A. Cordrey – Winnipeg, MB G. Michael Dobbin – Winnipeg, MB Terrence F. Dugan – East St. Paul, MB Joan Ferguson – Regina, SK Peter G. Fulton – Winnipeg, MB Shirley E. Kozlowich – Winnipeg, MB Robert Wales – Strathmore, AB August 2021 Ronald W. Baron – Kamloops, BC Linda K. Bjarnason – Brandon, MB John T. Cooke – Winnipeg, MB Keith Craig – Winnipeg, MB

18 n RTAM KIT Winter 2021

Jacquelyn M. Driedger – Lac du Bonnet, MB David Froese – Winnipeg, MB Clifford D. Gussie – Swan River, MB Borden Hasiuk – Tilbury, ON Mary M. Heindle – Winnipeg, MB Myrtle Hughes – Portage la Prairie, MB June M. Keith – Winnipeg, MB Therese Kuszak – Dauphin, MB Margaret R. M. Lesperance – Portage la Prairie, MB Stanley A. Livingston – Carberry, MB N. Lory Neufeld – Cranberry Portage, MB Jeannine Ruest – Winnipeg, MB Joan M. Russell – Winnipeg, MB Mary F. Ruta – Winnipeg, MB Maizie Walton – Winnipeg, MB Anne Waschuk – La Salle, MB Jacob Winters – Winnipeg, MB September 2021 David A. R. Candin – Winnipeg, MB Terence Clifford – Winnipeg, MB J. Gail Fedyk – Winnipeg, MB William J. Gadsby – Winnipeg, MB Elizabeth O. Genik – Winnipeg, MB Richard Holder – Beausejour, MB Menno Isaac – Brandon, MB Stephen Knysh – Winnipeg, MB Sharon Melnicer – Winnipeg, MB Karen W. Poborsa – Winnipeg, MB Gordon G. Sanguin – Winnipeg, MB Nancy Scheiman – Winnipeg, MB Michael F. Whelan – Neepawa, MB

Life Members (Presented at age 90 to RTAM members)

July 2021 Patsy I. Challis – Winnipeg, MB Armelle Degagne – Winnipeg, MB Lincoln L. Lautermilch – Winnipeg, MB Stanley Petrowski – Toronto, ON Madeleine Robidoux-Kirzinger – Winnipeg, MB Rosemary J. Shamess – Winnipeg, MB August 2021 Lucienne Bazin – St. Claude, MB Emily M. Cherney – Roblin, MB Valeria M. Gillis – Winnipeg, MB Celine A. Houde – Winnipeg, MB Doreen E. Lindquist – Thompson, MB Doreen L. Minary – Brandon, MB M. Joyce Smyth – Winnipeg, MB Patricia R. Wallace – Victoria, BC May White – Winnipeg, MB September 2021 Melvin Chambers – Neepawa, MB Michael P. Czuboka – Winnipeg, MB Norma D. Klassen – Portage la Prairie, MB Grace Mealy – Minto, MB


Okanagan Chapter Nancy Kostiuk, Secretary


n September 30, 2021, the executive met at The Landing in the Cove Lakeside Resort in West Kelowna, where COVID-19 protocols were followed. Discussions ranged from possibilities for a Christmas in-person gathering to ideas and plans for a Wellness event. The Fairways Room at the Sunset Ranch Golf Course has been booked for a Christmas luncheon on Tuesday, December 14. Details will be sent to members in mid-November. n

Photo by Lorna Rothwell

St. James-Assiniboia Chapter Lynn Land, President

Lynn Land chairing the chapter AGM.


RTAM President Bill Cann bringing greetings.

he St. James-Assiniboia Chapter of RTAM held its AGM on September 29, 2021, in the afternoon, as well an outdoor concert in the parking lot of St. Paul the Apostle Church. Members had to be double vaccinated. Masks were required if we had to move inside due to inclement weather. The weather was fantastic and sunscreen and hats were recommended. Cold drinks were provided and snacks were provided in Ziploc bags for those who attended. Thirty-two retirees enjoyed the event. Chairperson, Lynn Land chaired the meeting. RTAM President, Bill Cann, brought greetings to his home Chapter's AGM. The following members were elected to the Chapter's Executive for 2021-2022: • Chairperson: Lynn Land • Vice Chair: Shelley Herbert • Treasurer: Emily Williamson • Secretary: Rudy Peters • Membership/Communications: Dorothy Young

Sol James and John Barron brought the entertainment.

• Members at Large: Marj Bilous, Will Peters, Linda Scott, Garry Winfield At the conclusion of the meeting we enjoyed listening for an hour to Winnipeg Artist Sol James who sang and played her guitar. She was accompanied on the double bass by John Barron. Sol is a force to be recognized on the music scene with a voice to match! John is a mean bass player. Toes were tapping, hands were clapping, requests were taken and a great time was had by all those in attendance. 50/50 tickets were sold and the lucky winner was Peter Mingo. We thank Provincial RTAM for the Chapter grant which we put to great use. It was so nice to get reacquainted with former colleagues. We thank Lynn, Marj, Emily, Fred and Shelley for organizing this event and Dorothy for getting out the notice to our members. n


Creating Miracles: Raising Profiles Pat Bowslaugh


his story is a tracking of what some of our colleagues described as an “outside the box” project. The events, which you are about to read, took place in a two year span and morphed into results of which we became very proud even though they were equally unexpected. Background information includes reviewing the RTAM goal of recognizing our Indigenous youth by creating a one thousand dollar award for a student at Manitoba’s University College of the North. Following the first award presentation in June 2019, the recipient, Brie Phillips, graciously responded with a lovely letter of appreciation. Attached to her letter was an 8.5 by 11 inch sheet of paper with three unique pictures and a manuscript that she had created in response to one of her class assignments. As this item was passed around to each member of the RTAM Public Relations Committee, the potential impact of the storyline and pictures was immediately recognized. Yes, it could become a book! Immediately the committee also realized that this could be our project to commemorate “Manitoba 150”! Thus the idea started to take place. Brie, who is a gifted young Métis student, was approached by RTAM to receive her permission to use her work and to confirm her willingness to create additional (water colour) pictures to illustrate her warm and caring story. The story’s focus is of respecting our heritage and the environment. In addition, being teachers, we created study guides to extend the book’s use from Early Years to Middle and Senior Years. Our next step was to explore a source to do the printing so tenders were sought for this part of the creation. Brandon’s Leech Printing was engaged to create each page of the 24 page full colour book. This company also arranged delivery via Canada Post. Early this year the goal of having 2000 books printed for the Retired Teachers’ Association of Manitoba was achieved. Next, with the help of Josh Watt of the Manitoba School Boards Association

20 n RTAM KIT Winter 2021

who supplied us with the names and addresses of every Manitoba public school, individual copies of Roots were gifted to over nine hundred schools. However, preceding this mailing, the first copy of Brie’s book, “Roots”, was presented to former Judge and Senator, Murray Sinclair, by author, Brie Phillips. This exciting event took place via Zoom at our RTAM Board meeting in March. Following this initial excitement, a copy of Roots was sent to every public library in Manitoba, the Métis Association, the Council of Chiefs, the Manitoba Department of Education and Training, every MLA and to each of Manitoba’s universities. Of course, Brie also received several copies of her book for her to share with relatives and friends (plus the students in the class with whom she began her teaching career in September 2020). Brie was also counselled to sell her extra copies. Miraculously word about this new author spread quickly in her locale and she was invited to present at a teachers’ professional development day. Upon ending her presentation she survived the rush as people charged forward to purchase a copy. She sold sixty the first day. Her next order was for 800 copies! (And, in her latest update to us, she continues to be sought after to present at educational events.) We are very proud of this project which has morphed far beyond RTAM’s Public Relations goal to celebrate “Manitoba 150“. Brie has already ordered and purchased a new shipment of 3000 copies to fulfill the requests she has received. And another kindness . . . Brie’s parents sent us an amazing letter for which we sought approval to share with you. (See letter on page 13.) Miracles and profiles! Enjoy.

Footnote: RTAM’s celebratory gift to acknowledge “Manitoba 150” was financed through the Public Relations Committee’s budget. RTAM has no further responsibility for this one time project. n

Remembrance Day

Guy Hansen, Chair, Public Relations

Arden Seven Commemorative Plaza in Jules Mager Park in St. Vital, Winnipeg. In memory of seven young men who volunteered to fight in the Battle of Hong Kong in 1941, all from Winnipeg’s Arden Avenue.


he Canadian 100th Regiment formed in Morden, Manitoba in 1908. It later relocated to Winnipeg and was renamed the Winnipeg Grenadiers. By 1940, the tough times of the 1930s were starting to disappear, and young Cliff Matthews casually wandered into a recruiting office. He and his brother Alfred enlisted and deployed to garrison duty in tropical Jamaica. By 1941, Britain and Canada became involved in the agony of the Second World War. While most of the fighting initially occurred in Europe, Japan opened the Pacific war on December 7 with surprise attacks on Pearl Harbor, Malaya, the Dutch East Indies, and the Philippines. Even though British defense studies concluded that Hong Kong would be extremely hard to defend in the event of a Japanese attack, Prime Minister Winston Churchill was desperate to defend Singapore and Hong Kong. In late 1941, the British government accepted an offer by the Canadian Government to send a battalion of the Royal Rifles of Canada (from Quebec) and one of the Winnipeg Grenadiers (from Manitoba) and a brigade headquarters (1,975 personnel) to reinforce the Hong Kong garrison. The two Canadian battalions boarded the transport ships, which landed in Hong Kong on November 16,

George Peterson, was the last surviving member of the Arden Seven.

1941. The Canadians immediately began shoring up the defense fortifications. Some of them had not even fired a training rifle yet. The battle for Hong Kong was short, lasting only seventeen days. Short of water, without adequate transportation and pounded by the enemy’s superior artillery and command of the skies the defenders did what they could to stem the Japanese advance following their amphibious landing on the island’s beaches. Japanese grenades started landing in the Winnipeg Grenadiers’ trenches and the Canadians were forced to retreat. One grenade seemed larger and was hard to grasp. Without hesitation, Sergeant Major John Osborn smothered it with his body saving the men in his unit. Nevertheless, both Matthews boys were lifted several feet by the blast. They got up dazed and were wounded shortly after. Cliff was expected to die. He lost the use of an arm but survived. John Osborn was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for exceptional bravery. The garrison surrendered on Christmas Day. The captured British, Indian and Canadian soldiers became prisoners of war, first at camps in Hong Kong and later in Japan, where they endured years of beatings, hard labor and inadequate diets. Next Page → RTAM.MB.CA n 21

John Matthews with grandchildren Evan and Mae in Birtle, MB. For a project in his math class, Evan had created a family tree featuring great granddad Cliff. Cliff had gone off with the Winnipeg Grenadiers to fight in the Battle of Hong Kong, 1941, and was lucky enough to return. John, a retired teacher, is representing the Retired Teachers' Association of Manitoba (RTAM). Hundreds of the Canadian POWs died of illness or from slow starvation. Among the prisoners were seven soldiers from Arden Avenue, including twin brothers, George, and Morris Peterson. George spent the next three years as slave labor in a Japanese


coal mine, while Cliff Matthews ground flour with his one good arm and his brother Alfred worked in a Japanese shipyard. Over five hundred Canadians did not return from that battle. George Peterson of Winnipeg died just this last spring at the age of one hundred. He was the oldest member of the Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association. There are many memorials to the Hong Kong veterans in Winnipeg. The Army, Navy and Air Force Club on Empress Street, just north of Polo Park, is named after John Osborne. The city unveiled the Arden Seven Commemorative Plaza in Jules Mager Park in St. Vital on July 14, 2014. Although all survived being captured and taken prisoner, only one of the seven was still alive. George Peterson was part of the unveiling ceremony. Lest We Forget.

Cliff Matthews’ great grandson, Evan Fulton is laying a wreath in Birtle, his hometown. It will be on behalf of the Matthews family, and of the Retired Teachers’ Association of Manitoba. Submitted by the PR Committee, with thanks to John Matthews, a retired Winnipeg teacher, son of Cliff Mattews. n


WINTER 2021 PHOTO CONTEST The two categories are: 1. Candles: Capture the wondrous glow of candles as they light up your life. 2. Water: take a picture of the ocean, a lake, rain, ice or any surface with water drops.

22 n RTAM KIT Winter 2021


Judging by Gayl Punzalan Creative Director of Blue Ink Media Full contest rules and entry forms available at and at the RTAM office. All entries to be sent by mail, email, or delivered to RTAM no later than 4:00 p.m., April 6, 2022.


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A Post-Retirement Option


s a result of growing up in an economically challenged household, I never aspired to become a teacher. After nearly completing Grade Twelve, I was approached by a group of parents to become a permit teacher in their 8 grade, 1 room rural school. The rest is history. Throughout the next 35 years, I sincerely enjoyed teaching and administering in the public school system. However, I always had a dream that someday I would love to experience teaching in an environment where I could devote 100% of my time to the actual job I loved, and not a high percentage to disciplining the students. At the ripe old age of 54, I decided to retire because I was burning out and a few or our younger friends were dying from heart attack, brain aneurysm, or cancer. Now was the time to seek out my dream. My wife, a teacher, our adult son, our recently adopted 10 year old son, and I set off to Shenyang, China, for 10 months to teach English. Without a doubt, it was the best adventure in my life. I feel it is important to state clearly that I am not in any way setting myself up as an expert on China. What I am sharing is my personal experience over a 10 month period in a culture with a 6,000 year old history.

Actual Experience We were met at the airport by an English-speaking delegation of Chinese fellow teachers. We swept through the darkened city of 8 million on route to our university accommodation in a jet lagged frame of mind. Food: Every living thing that walks, swims, or flies can be considered a source of food with a variety of recipes for preparation of each species. I feel this may have become acceptable because of the country’s history of natural and man-made famines. Colleagues of ours shared stories about they had lived on grass and tree bark during such times. At present, food of all types is plentiful. Accommodations: In our case, we lived in western style apartments along with foreign teachers from England, Australia and USA. In terms of the Chinese 24 n RTAM KIT Winter 2021

Allen Havard, RTAM Member

people their accommodations were dependent upon their economic levels which actually meant their political connections. There is a whole range stretching from cinder brick sheds to luxury condominiums as well as western style suburbs in gated communities. The whole of our city appeared to be under construction as the old was torn down to be replaced with modern, more expensive private condos. No problems in having to expropriate the site to modernize, as all land is state owned. Medical services: Chinese people of all ages feel that it is their individual responsibility to maintain their own health through daily exercise, proper diet, and drinking lots of boiled water. Excellent medical services are available to everyone who can afford them. An interesting caution here might be that Chinese avoid freezing for dental work if at all possible as they believe it damages brain cells. Western trained dentists are only for the very rich clients. Law and order: We felt safe wherever we walked or travelled. Local people avoid the police whenever possible. I feel that there are very few police for too many people. Students said that police will respond to their concerns by saying, “Don’t bother me, I have other problems!” As experienced travellers, we watched our possessions out in public and avoided risky areas as we would have in any city. A point of interest here is that a jail experience in China is not pleasant. They believe that prisoners must work if they want to eat. The jailors accept construction contracts for the sewage system, street paving, etc. and use convict labour. It was common to pass beside groups of men with shaved heads and bright orange coveralls working. Drug use did not seem to be so widespread there as it is North America. A factor may be that, unofficially, drug sellers are shot but I never actually saw this. Organ sales are controlled by the military for the lucrative foreigner market. Travel: China has 28 recognized World Heritage sites. Train travel is cheap, safe and an adventure if you keep an open mind and want to meet ordinary people. A caution here is that Chinese do not line up

as we do, so do not feel embarrassed to push onto the train with the rest. Hotels are cheap, clean and safe without using the 5 Star sites developed for the rich tourists. Our employer provided us with a guide who made everything flow smoothly. Employers are responsible for the safety of their foreign employees, so it made sense to provide guides whenever we asked for one. It was usually one of our Chinese colleagues who would have a working vacation along with us. Government: In China, about 10% of the population belong to the Communist Party which runs everything. It is a strange system of state control and a wild west, free economic system. The ruling class are mainly engineers and economists. They follow a very pragmatic approach meaning if it doesn't work, change the approach. This approach is in stark contrast to their parent system used by the former USSR mentors. The former USSR form of communism followed a dogmatic approach wherein "If it doesn't work, repeat the actions as indicated in the rules". Russia is in the toilet and China is taking over the world economically. 99% of all Walmart and Dollar Store merchandise comes out of China so who amongst us is not supporting China's economy? China's growing economy is now competing for world oil supplies and our fuel costs rise accordingly. Our excess supplies of cans, plastic bottles, and paper from our Canadian recycling systems are shipped off to China. In China, they are recycled into products and sold back to us in our stores as goods imported. Culture: I think that, to most Canadians, Chinese are one people. However, on their National TV programs, they always say China is 57 different nationalities. Their national approach reminded me of Winnipeg's Folklorama week. All these minorities are excused from the One Child policy to encourage their growth. The family unit is very strong. The one child policy is putting terrible pressure on children as four grandparents and two parents are totally focused on each child. Male children are most wanted and tend to be spoiled as a result. Interestingly, most of our students were girls

preparing to study abroad. Young people refer to their cousins as brother or sister. Our 10-year old adopted son was constantly being invited out for lunch by groups of students who I feel just liked being around a little brother. Before anyone passes judgement on the one child policy, I would recommend you visit China and experience the crowding. China has 1,400,000,000 in a land mass similar to Canada. We have 33,000,000. Their culture is 6000 years old and most are familiar with and proud of their past. They or their ancestors are not from some other country as is our Canadian experience. Snow removal: In Shenyang (population of 8 million), they had only 3 snow plows. Each building had a special shed wherein hundreds of hand shovels were stored. After a snowstorm, everyone ages 12 and up regardless of sex went out and cleared the streets. If a business does not clear away the snow, it will be done by the city and the costs will be billed to the business. University: All students must live on the campus in very Spartan conditions. Each morning at 6, everyone, in matching tracksuits, lines up for exercise on the football field, followed by a little jog around the campus. There are on average 400 applications for each available spot. Families with lots of money try to educate their child abroad. This has become a very lucrative business for most English-speaking countries like Canada. I went to China with the attitude that whenever I encountered something that shocked me, I would say 1.4 billion could not have it wrong. The problem was that I was different. I will not share what shocked me because it would feed into Western Next Page → RTAM.MB.CA n 25

My First Year Teaching Linda York, Member, PR Committee


fter having graduated from Education 1A in June of 1967 and having got married the same month, I was ready for adventure. My husband (also a first year teacher) and I signed on with Indian Affairs to teach in Shamattawa in Northern Manitoba. We flew out of Thompson on a four-seater Cessna and flew over nothing but rocks and trees for two hours and landed on the Echoing River below the school and teacherage. Most of the citizens were there to greet us, very stoically. We discovered that our bags had been left on the dock in Thompson and the next flight in wouldn’t be for several days. My Grades 1 & 2 classroom was in a separate building with a wood stove and no electricity. I had about twenty children who were very shy at first, so I was totally shocked when they all jumped up and ran out the door and down to the river. Our luggage had arrived, and I realized what a big event an incoming plane was for them. On my twentieth birthday in November, a wonderful little man named Pete arrived and

installed a generator in our house. We still used a cook stove but now had lights and a refrigerator. WOW! What a celebration we had with the Anglican minister, two Hudson Bay guys, Russ our third teacher, our Lamb Airways pilot, and our hero Pete. My students were eager to learn and try new things. We used a multi-cultural reading series and I had to explain about windshield wipers on the car that two Chinese children rode in on their first day of school. Indian Affairs idea of an appropriate reading series. We flew home for Christmas and to The Pas for a teachers' convention. Of course, we arrived late so our room was taken, and we were given one without a bathroom. I told our superintendent that I wouldn’t go back to Shamattawa without having a bath, so he took us home with him and I had a great soak. I look back on that year nostalgically but that June I was pretty excited that this adventure was over.

The Public Relations Committee is still encouraging RTAM members to send stories of interest to be published in KIT. n

A Post-Retirement . . . continued from previous page ideas that our way is superior to others. I did not feel superior but different and I learned each day just how much I did not know about one of the world's most powerful economic systems. In closing, I want to state that I had never met a more generous, hospitable culture. We did not openly admire any person's belonging because they 26 n RTAM KIT Winter 2021

would frequently insist that we have it. Because of our responsibilities regarding the education of our younger son, we had to return to Canada. What the future holds remains to be seen as one of our colleagues from Canada was 72 years old and readily accepted to teach spoken English. n

Travel Is Coming Back, And Travellers Are Booking Their Future Travel Plans!


rip Merchant provides Retired Teachers’ Association of Manitoba members with exclusive travel savings and extra benefits via a dedicated RTAM travel site. Member benefits include specially negotiated member rates with a wide variety of travel styles and suppliers that accommodate the diverse interests of travellers. Additionally, you will benefit from their Loyalty Program, Online Presentations, Trip Contests and much more! Below are a few group trips to consider for 2022, within North America.

Discover Haida Gwaii, BC: June 12-19, 2022 Due to the success of the first RTAM group departure date, a new departure date has been organized! Join other members on this 7-night tour of Haida Gwaii. Haida Gwaii, nicknamed “Canada’s Galapagos,” is a wild and untouched archipelago on the west coast of British Columbia steeped in the culture of the Haida People dating back over 10,000 years. Discover the culture both past and present while exploring the dramatic landscapes and abundant wildlife of these incredible islands. Visit Haida Gwaii and experience a mystical world of adventure and breathtaking beauty. Enjoy many highlights and inclusions on this unique Canadian experience!

Pacific Northwest - Portland to Spokane River Cruise: March 27-April 4, 2022 Join Trip Merchant’s Founders, Tom, and Ryan – Enjoy the best of the Pacific Northwest (Oregon and Washington) aboard this Columbia and Snake River cruise from Portland to Spokane – with American

Queen Voyages. Embark on this river cruise to see that the natural world is alive here – unlike anywhere else on earth – and through historic sites and locks and dams, it flows. Sea lions sunbathe on buoys as the distant horizon unblankets the sky to reveal its snow-capped mountains between Portland and Spokane.

The Best of Newfoundland: August 23-September 3, 2022 After a very successful August 2021 departure, Trip Merchant decided to repeat the same trip for 2022. Since 1982, McCarthy’s Party has specialized in delivering tours of Newfoundland and Labrador. Committed to providing you with an authentic experience, they offer you total immersion – Newfoundland and Labrador style. Their guides grew up in the province and are the best source for information on the culture, history, music, and language that make this area so unique. They know ‘off the beaten path’ locations where their groups see the spectacular scenery and wildlife of Newfoundland. Your local guide will provide you with an authentic Newfoundland experience that will be both educational and thoroughly enjoyable. Please note: On the RTAM travel site, there are many trips with various travel providers featured. Trip Merchant covers the world and can offer any trip, with any supplier, even if you do not see a specific trip on the travel site. For full details on the above trips and other travel opportunities, visit your RTAM/Trip Merchant travel site today at (Password for Access: RTAMTM18). n


Cloudy at Summer's End by Kenneth Clark

Pelican on the Lake by Sandy Sinclair

Reflections on the Red by Yvonne Turenne



PHOTOGRAPHY CONTEST Summer 2021 Category: Reflections

Winners 1st Place: Sandy Sinclair 2nd Place: Kenneth Clark Honourable Mention: Yvonne Turenne

Elegant Elephant by Elaine Bollman

L'acrobate by Sidney Shapira

Street Scene by Bernard Boland



PHOTOGRAPHY CONTEST Summer 2021 Category: Shadows

Winners 1st Place: Sidney Shapira 2nd Place: Elaine Bollman Honourable Mention: Bernard Boland

Travel insurance that’s ready to go. The past year has been tough. We’ve all had to put our travel plans on hold as we wait for borders to open and vaccines to arrive. Now as the world slowly begins to re-open, we have additional benefits for Prestige Travel Insurance Customers. So what’s changed? Your Emergency Medical Insurance benefits cover you during your trip for: Eligible COVID-19 related emergencies for up to $5 million, even during a COVID-19 travel advisory1 Medical coverage for reactions to the vaccine For more information please contact the plan administrator, Johnson Insurance.

1.877.989.2600 | #100, 17203 – 103 Avenue NW, Edmonton, AB. T5S 1J4

RTAM sponsors pre-retirement seminars for teachers. Johnson Insurance is a tradename of Johnson Inc. (“JI”), a licensed insurance intermediary, and operates as Johnson Insurance Services in British Columbia and Johnson Inc. in Manitoba. This insurance product is underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada (“RSA”) and administered by JI. Valid provincial or territorial health plan coverage required. Travel Assistance provided by Global Excel Management Inc. The eligibility requirements, terms, conditions, limitations and exclusions which apply to the described coverage are as set out in the policy. Policy wordings prevail. JI, and RSA share common ownership. 1The optional Trip Cancellation, Interruption & Delay Insurance benefits do not include coverage for COVID-19 related incidents. Call 1.855.733.6815 for details. RTAM08.21