2020 Year in Review

By Don Norman

As we look back at last year’s news, predictably, COVID-19 dominated the Advocate’s headlines in 2020. Here’s a month by month recap of some of the stories we covered in 2020.

As is often the case, the biggest news of the month was a tragedy. On January 18, 2020, Powerview RCMP responded to a two-vehicle collision on Highway 11, four km east of Highway 59. The collision ended up killing two people; a young man from Traverse bay and a 65 year-old man from St. Georges.

One story that got a lot of interest in February was the announcement of a glass artisan opening a new business in Albert Beach. Gordon Boyd was to open Manitoba’s only glass “hot-shop”. Unfortunately, opening the storefront on Saffies Road was postponed because of the pandemic that would start shaking things up in the coming weeks.

And this is when it all began. We reported the first active case in the Interlake-Eastern Health Region on March 15. The COVID-19 pandemic took everyone by surprise including RM of Alexander Councillor, Ken Danwich. He and his wife Carol (Carol’s on Leon) had to cut short their long-anticipated European vacation after getting stranded in Spain just as that country went into lockdown. A testing site for the virus was set up at Powerview School (which later was moved to the Pine Falls Health Complex).

COVID-19 continued to dominate the headlines in April, but the biggest story was the April 2nd sentencing of former Sagkeeng principal, Claude Guimond. After pleading guilty to the 2017 vigilante shooting deaths of Jody Brown and Steven Chevrefils, Guimond was sentenced to life imprisonment with no chance of parole for 14 years for two counts of second-degree murder.

Barricades to monitor vehicles entering Sagkeeng.

COVID topped the news stories again in May after Sagkeeng set up a barricade to monitor traffic running through the community. However, they controversially placed the barricade east of Dock Road on the Pine Falls side of the boundary between the two communities. Powerview-Pine Falls requested the barricade be moved. Sagkeeng refused. Feathers were ruffled, but it turned out to be a minor inconvenience at most for anyone wanting to launch their boats in Pine Falls.

In June, the Powerview RCMP was on a roll. Actually the roll started in May, but over the course of those two months, the Powerview detachment made several arrests at various traffic stops and residences confiscating drugs, weapons and cash.

Powerview RCMP on a Roll in June

July and August
July’s big story was another tragedy: the drowning death of a On July 12, 2020, Powerview RCMP responded to a drowning at the quarry across the Great Falls Dam. A 21 year old male from St. Annes, Manitoba died in the mishap. The story spanned several issues and the drowning ultimately led to Manitoba Hydro closing down access to traffic over the dam. Hydro’s move was controversial because it not only blocked access to the popular swimming hole, but it also shut down an important connector for this region’s portion of the Trans Canada Trail. This issue is ongoing.

Quarry goers parked in Great Falls

And we’re back to COVID-19. In late summer, the province began providing numbers on a community by community basis. By September 15, the Powerview-Pine Falls region reported their first active case of the disease. A second case was announced two days later and by the end of the month Lac du Bonnet-Pinawa region had reported their first two cases.

After the province unexpectedly extended a ban on moose hunting in the area north of the Winnipeg River, a three-way conflict broke out between the province, the Manitoba Metis Federation and Sagkeeng First Nation. Both Sagkeeng and the MMF disagreed with the provincial ruling. So, the MMF said they would go ahead with their lottery for moose hunting licences in the area despite the provincial regulations. Sagkeeng Chief Derrick Henderson said the MMF had no right or authority to unilaterally open hunting for its members.

Sagkeeng, Province, MMF spat over moose hunting rights in October (photo: Blazed Photography)

On November 12, the province issued the code-red for the entire province and everything was locked down tight. November was also when the COVID cases really started to add up locally.

And not surprisingly, COVID-19 tops the stories for December as well. As we were putting together our Christmas edition, the Powerview-Pine Falls region reporting the first death from COVID-19. The name and exact location of the case was not released.

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