Manitoba Chapter History

As written by Athena Dinos.

As the former Communications representative of the Manitoba Chapter for fmi*igf, I was delegated the task of writing the article for the 50th anniversary commemorative journal. As one of the newer members of the Chapter, I was a little leery of this task as I had no corporate history with which to begin. Members of the Board suggested a meeting with former Board members to discuss the history of the Manitoba Chapter that would provide us with some highlights and anecdotes that we could include. So, on a hot summer afternoon Rodger Guinn (’90-91), Ron Smith (’96-’97), Ron Stoesz and Ken Appleyard (’86-’87) met with current members of the Board to discuss and reminisce about some of the past events.

The conversation began with the basics: the Manitoba Chapter began in 1981 sparked by an initiative from a group of federal members. At that time, there were only a handful of chapters across Canada. Mr. Wayne Buck (Pres ’82-’83 – Supply and Services Canada) took the lead in establishing the Manitoba chapter despite a couple of previous failed attempts. Stimulated by a federal directive, Mr. Buck, along with the original organizing committee and 39 members, was successful in kicking off the Chapter. Mr. Smith produced a copy of the original Constitution created by the original members which we will be sure to archive.

In the early eighties, Chapter members were primarily Federal representatives. It wasn’t until 1988 that the then Manitoba Deputy Minister of Finance, C.E.Curtis, asked Eric Rosenhek (Provincial Comptroller) and Roger Guinn to initiate provincial participation in the Chapter. A small drive among provincial members resulted in an increase of membership from the mid 50s to 130 plus participants. The early nineties continued to see growth, as members were initiated from the municipal level of government and even non-government organizations. By 2010-11, membership numbers peaked at 195 pp.

The conversation then moved on to past events. We began with the Public Sector Financial Management Workshops (PSMW) of which Manitoba has hosted three events. The first conference was held in 1989 at the former Sheraton Hotel on Donald and York. In 1995 “Breaking Down the Barriers” was hosted at the Holiday Inn Crown Plaza and included workshops on “One stop Information Centers – Shared Services”, “Employee Security – The Fear of Job loss’ and “The Psychology of Change”: all topics that would be relevant today. The 2007 “Taking care of Business” event held at the Hotel Fort Garry covered current issues such as of “Challenges and Trends in the Public Sector” and “Valuing Water: A Resource under Threat”.

Ron Smith making a presentation to Greenpeace founder Dr. Patrick Moore as the Right Honourable Ed Schreyer observes in the background.

Whether at a PSMW event or at a regular networking and professional development luncheon, it was obvious that the chapter Boards were eager to have interesting and relevant speakers. Former Premier Ralph Klein was invited to speak on issues facing Provincial politics, while The Right Honourable Ed Schreyer spoke to the sustainability of public policy. Dr. Patrick Moore, the co-founder of Greenpeace, joined us to discuss environmentalism in the 21st Century. Laurie Skreslet, who in 1982 was the first Canadian to climb the summit of Mount Everest, had people so captivated at PSMW with stories of his journey that people missed their flights to hear him speak. Sheila Fraser, the former Auditor General of Canada, not only took the time to speak at one of the events, but also took the time to personally greet and a shake the hands of each participant as they arrived. These were but a few of the many memorable moments that were embedded in the memories of our past members.

The conversation then turned to the people who were and are instrumental in the Manitoba Chapter success. There was Wayne Buck, the founding member of the Manitoba chapter and first chapter President; Rodger Guinn, the first and only National Chair from Manitoba; John McCullough, Clarence Lefko, Ron Smith, Wolf Boehm, Bob and Sandra Murphy, just to mention a few of the members who left their mark on the Manitoba Chapter. And of course there are the more recent members like Don Baril-Basset and Richard Decka who are competing for most terms as MB Chapter Board Members, and Lynn Cowley, Former Chairperson and current Liaison for Western Region.

But beyond the individual support and achievements, there was significant executive support from senior Federal Government Finance leaders from many departments including Service Canada, RCMP, DND, Auditor general, Supply & Services Canada and so many more. There was also the Manitoba Government and City of Winnipeg financial leaders in departments like the Provincial Comptroller’s Office, Manitoba Auditor General, Secretary to Treasury Board for Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg CFO, to name a few. Without the support of these leaders, the Chapter could not have succeeded as well as it has.

Sitting around the table with former and current members of the Board of the Manitoba Chapter listening to stories of past events and achievements, I realized that the past thirty years has provided some amazing opportunities for members of the finance community to come together and share best practices. But what I especially appreciated and took away from that lunch was that the Chapter’s greatest accomplishment is the friendships and camaraderie gained through the networking events. Watching these men and women intermingle and reminisce made me proud to be part of fmi*igf – Manitoba. I look forward to the relationships I will make and foster as I embark on my journey with fmi*igf. We hope that others will feel the same and join our venture as we grow to membership numbers over 200 in the coming years.