MANITOULIN – Many great community events require a lot of volunteer power to carry out their goals and mandate successfully and efficiently. This is even more so for large events organized by non-profit organizations and the Manitoulin Ice Showdown is no exception. This year, the Manitoulin Ice Showdown had 34 incredible volunteers carrying out tasks ranging from pre-derby week set-up and behind-the-scenes administration to welcoming derby participants at registration and weighing fish brought into any of the six check-in stations and, most importantly, helping to create a memorable experience for derby participants.
Derby participants were often heard remarking about how professional, helpful and friendly the volunteers were and this National Volunteer Week the Manitoulin Ice Showdown volunteers deserve to once again be acknowledge as wonderful community ambassadors. Showdown volunteers bring their heart, skills and talents while giving much of their time so that the derby can successfully host Manitoulin Island’s premier winter event, bringing local anglers together with visiting anglers from across the region, the province and the country.
When speaking with volunteers about why they volunteer for the Manitoulin Ice Showdown many of them spoke about the importance of giving back to their community which so often supports them and recognize that, as volunteers, they play an important role in the success of the derby and they all want to see it succeed and grow year over year. Some veteran volunteers, who have been a part of the derby for several years, including Galen Trudeau, Christianna Jones and Stacey Jackson cite the derby as a fun event that makes winter a little more bearable. In fact, Ms. Jackson, who now looks forward to being involved in the derby every year says “my experience with the derby has been amazing and I recommend other community members get involved. Derby participants make the event more enjoyable with all their fishing tips and sharing their experiences as well as where they came from while visiting” at the check in stations. Galen Trudeau agrees and adds that helping “feels good and it’s also good to have volunteer experience on your resume.”
When asked if she would volunteer again, first-time volunteer Bionka Eshkawkogan Maiangowi said “I would most definitely volunteer again next year!” Other first-time volunteers, including Rachel Lewis, Cathy Mishibinijima and Brittany Trudeau all agreed, expressing gratitude for the experience and say they look forward to being involved in future derbies given the fun they had volunteering this year.
Rachel Lewis, who volunteered this year because she enjoys helping out and being a part of something outside of her usual routine said that she would volunteer again because “it was such a great event and I especially loved seeing some of the younger participants enjoying the event.”
The derby has a group of dedicated volunteers that return each year because the experience is so enjoyable. One such repeat volunteer is Ian Dokum who first volunteered for the Manitoulin Ice Showdown in 2019 because he wanted to get some volunteer hours for school and knew this opportunity would help him—and because it’s an annual event, he knew if he didn’t get enough hours in his first year he could volunteer again the next year.
The Wikwemikong High School student was able to complete all his volunteer hours this year however he says that he will continue to volunteer because “it was an amazing experience.” As a return volunteer, he was able to take on greater responsibilities this year including weighing in fish that came in. He says, “I enjoyed my experience at the derby as I got to enjoy my weekend outside getting some fresh air and meet people and have conversations with them. I also got to spend time with a family member who I never get a chance to spend time with.”
Another volunteer who, according to his sister Cindy Ominika “always looked forward to volunteering for the derby each year,” was the late Warren ‘Chocolate’ Manitowabi whom Wikwemikong Tourism gratefully acknowledges for his many years of dedication in volunteering for the Wiikwemkoong Ice Fishing Derby, the predecessor to the Manitoulin Ice Showdown. Luke Wassegijig, Wikwemikong Tourism Manager, fondly recalls the many years Warren-baa volunteered describing his dedication and sense of levity as a key asset to the success of the annual derby. Indeed, it is the dedication and willingness of volunteers to share their talents, their humour and their time with the Manitoulin Ice Showdown that contributes greatly to its success!
The 2020 Manitoulin Ice Showdown Volunteers were: Stacey Aiabens, Robin Anderson, Ashley Assinewe, Sydney Barnsdale, Jocelyn Bebamikawe, Ann Cummings, Ian Dokum, Derek Drysdale, Kevin Dunlop, Kendra Edwards, Bonita Eshkawkogan, Bionka Eshkawkogan Maiangowi, Shawl Eshkibok, Stacey Jackson, Christianna Jones, Ben Lewis, Dante Lewis, Rachel Lewis, Darren Machimity, Sierrah Manitowabi, Jasmyn Manitowabi-Pangowish, Cathy Mishibinijima, Dallas Mishibinijima, Evanson Peltier, Belynn Pitawanakwat, Owen Pitawanakwat, Hunter Roy, Amanda Roy, Evan Roy, Adolphus Trudeau, Brittany Trudeau, Galen Trudeau and Kendra Wassengeso.