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Past Conferences

Each year, the conference features great speakers and a theme for the year.  Here are some highlights from past years conferences:

2023 - Winkler - Educate Encourage Empower 
Combine Clinic– Green Valley John Deere
Tour - Vanderveen Greenhouse
Building a Culture of Farm Safety – Morag Marjerison (KAP)
Stress Conquering Skills – Louise Sanders
Rooted: How I Stay Small Town Strong When Life Gets Hard and How You Can Too – Lewellyn Melnyk
Farm Transition for the Whole Family – Carol Kruck & Jessica Stewart
Building a Healthy Credit History – Tamara Friesen (Access Credit Union)
Simplify Your Life and Get Organized – Rebecca Thompson
3 Clicks and Your Connected– Manitoba Farmer Wellness Program (Dr. Briana Hagen & Roberta Galbraith)
Promote Rather than Defend – Cherilyn Nagel
No Place Like Home – Kim Ulmer (RBC)
Trivia Night and Line Dance instruction

2022  - Brandon - Together Again
Success Energy Equation – Michelle Cederberg
Guilty, Until Proven Innocent – S
herri Lee Pauls (@theg_mom)
Home and Rural Safety – Graeme Ki
Fraud Awareness – Genevie
ve Yoko/Malorie Gauthier
Safety on Social Media – Val Caldwell
Agvocating In 2022– Adrienne Ivey (View from the Ranch Porch)

Neurographic Art – Marlies Soltys (Inspire Studio)


Leading and Laughing During Turbulent Times - Michael Kerr

Mental health First Aid - Rebecca Gray

The Green Spot - Past, Present, Future - Bernie Whetter

Back to Basics - A Focus on Personal Wellness - Kim Moffat

Spruce Drive Farms and Stone Shed Gardens - Mark and Yanara Peters

Porch Drop Produce - Elise and Emily

2020 - Brandon - "20-20" VISION FOR THE NEXT 150 YEARS

Canceled Due to the strict Public Health orders of the 2020 Pandemic


You Gotta Laugh: Healing Stress With Humor - Susan Stewart
Women Hold The Key to Building Global Food Security – Colleen Dyck

STARS Foundation
What you Need to Know – Down on the Farm – Janice Goldborough
The Manitoba Protein Advantage – Robin Young
Be an Influencer!!! – Thelma Blahey
Meal Prep Ideas for Busy Families – Getty Stewart
Ensuring a Smooth Transition: Planning for Succession of the Family Business – Hiecy Homol
Bring Your ‘A’ Game to Work and Life – Stephanie Staples
Mental Health First Aid – St. John Ambulance – Brenda Preston
Relaxing About Food in a World of Confusing Messages – Erin & Dara from How to Eat


The Heart of the Farm & the Farmwives Book Project - Billie J Miller

Women & Investing—RBC Donna Adam

How Great Tastes is an Important Tool for the Agriculture Industry to Build Public Trust Donnalee Jones.

You Can't Have a Family Farm Without the Family—Teresa Vallotton & Kathy Hildebrand

Greenhouse Gases & Agriculture in Manitoba - Matthew Wiens

Fitness & Nutrition: The Simple Approach—Kurtis Fox

Fair vs Equal—Farm Transition—Peter Manness MNP

Another Meeting? Making Board Life Easier—Tracey Drabyk-Zirk, Joanne Baker Yoga Jodi Griffith

Reboot Your Self Care—Kim Standeven

Fireside Chat—Kim Keller & Leslie Kelly

Women's Networks in Manitoba—Pam Baily, Arenda Vanderdeen, Laura Lazo

Cowbells Through Your Brain— Brain fitness on your to do list—Noreen Kolesar


The Business of Life—Katie Dilse

Laughing Yoga—Kaycelyn Rosales Knight

Introduction into the Manitoba Farm Safety Program - Renee Simcoe

Bridging the Gap—Val Caldwell

DIY Stress Management: The Five Steps—Genella MacIntyre

Serving on Boards Effectively—Leanne Sprung & Alanna Gray

Do You Have Money Sense? And Sense Enough to Pass it on?- Jacquie Gerrard

Real Dirt on Farming– Dispelling the Myths on Food - Myrna Grahn

Yoga—Kaycelyn Rosales– Knight

When the Scale Tips  - Katie Dilse

Tools an d Strategies for Attracting and Keeping the Right Employees for Your Farm- Khosi Mashinini

Because I Love you—Angela Fox

Panel  - Tips Every Farm Operation Should Know  -  Legal, Financial, Insurance, Health

Agriculture in Manitoba -  Mike Lesiuk

Meal Prep for Our Busy Lifestyles -  Kaitlyn Cuvilier

2016 - Portage la Prairie  FUEL THE PULSE- Celebrating 30 Years 

 Putting Canada on the Plate – Mairlyn Smith

 Why Agriculture Needs to Speak Up – Cherilyn Nagel

 AITC –M Puts the Pulse in Ag Education – Sue Clayton

Keep Your Finger on the Pulses of Your Finances – Anita Janzen-Gemmel

Filling our Cupboards and Freezers to Fuel our Bodies – Getty Stewart

Igniting the Fire Within You AND Your Relationships, Even the Most Challenging Ones –Lou-anne Stefankiw

Food Development Centre Tour

Practical Tips on Advocating – Cherilyn Nagel

Stand Clear – Push to Analyse – Shock Advised (AED Automated External Defibrillator) training –Leith Sanders & Leah Braun

Gentle Hatha/Restorative Yoga – Christa Davidson

Grit and Grace – Women Who Lead, Feed and Beautify the World – Brenda Schreopp

Panel – Ag Advocates – Chelsea Boonstra, Donna Jackson, Will Bergman

If Financial Security is the Destination, Financial Literacy is the Fuel – Gwen Paddock

Suddenly I Have Back Fat! – Mairlyn Smith


2015 - Winkler -  FROM THE GROUND UP 

Winning the Hunger Games: How African Farmers are Rising to the Challenge – Laura Rance

The Dance of Equilibrium: Balancing Work and Life – Carol Ann Fried

RBC Olympian Jill Officer – Jill Officer

Growers Can Strike an Agronomic-Environmental Balance in Water Quality Protection – Mitchell Timmerman

7 Seconds and 140 Characters to Make an Impression – Leanne Campbell and Roberta Galbraith

Work Safe – What You and Your Farm Business Needs to Know about Safety and Health – Jeff Shaw

Healthy Crops Begin with Healthy Soils – Ingrid Kristjanson

Holistic Nutrition – Catherine Jordan

Belly Dancing, Yoga and Zumba Demonstration – Sheena Kilpatrick and Carie Wiebe

Women in Leadership – Expanding the Circle and Charting a New Course on the Job and in the Community – Marina James

Panel - Successful Women in Ag - Bailey Gitzel, Colleen Dyck, Lisa Dyck

From the earth beneath our feet to the dirt under our fingernails – Discover the hidden gem of soil! –Marla Riekman

Finding Your Joy SpotTM – Carol Ann Fried

2014 - Brandon - Family Farm Divas Celebrate International Year of Family Farming

The 2014 conference allowed attendees to release their “inner divas” as they

also celebrated the International Year of Family Farming. The conference theme

reflected the proud and important role of family farms and farm and rural women

as the glue which binds rural communities and provides safe, healthy food to a

growing global population.

Speakers included - Jolene Brown - Mairlyn Smith - and a panel of Family

Farm Divas who immigrated to Canada.


Sunday evening Dress up Booth

2013 – Portage – “From Farm to Fork to Facebook”

Conference opened with a Pinterest Party. Keynote speaker, Dari Latimer, spoke on “The Neuroscience of Leadership”

2012 – Winnipeg – “The New Face of Rural Life”

“Putting Humor to Work for Less Stress & More Success” was Michael Kerr’s topic. Marilyn Smith gave tips for “Healthy Eating for People on the Go”.

2011 – Brandon – “Building Rural Generations” 25 Years

“Management Training Credits” were introduced this year.
All past chairs of conference committee were invited to join in the 25th anniversary celebration. Banquet entertainment featured “The Beetles” from Brandon. Mairlyn Smith, a professional home economist and alumnus of the Second City Comedy Troupe, spoke on “How to Live to be 100 & Still Remember Your Name”.


2010 – Portage – “Manitoba Homecoming”

A panel of Johanne Ross, Rosann Wowchuk and Janet Smith shared “Leadership Stories from Manitobe Women”. Entertainers, “Swamp Gas” returned. Jennifer de Groot introduced us to “Living 100 Mile: How buying local creates healthy people & economics”.

2009 – Winnipeg – “Celebrating rural Life!”

Select-a-sessions included Belly Dancing, Safe Banking Practises, Workers Compensation & the Ag Industry. Farm Succession, & Getting to Know Your Digital Camera.

2008 – Brandon – “Keep it Real, Keep it RURAL!”
Rolande Kirouac opened conference with the topic, “Laughter for Healthy Living”.
As we gathered for the banquet, we were greeted by ringing fire alarm bells & had to gather in the parking lot while the fire department carried out their inspection of the building. Thankfully there was no fire so the banquet began after a short delay.

2007 – Portage – “Strong Women … Strong Rural Communities”
Arlene Jorgenson returned to speak on “Pride & Promise: Claiming our Future”.
Banquet entertainment was “Swamp Gas” from Neepawa.

2006 – Winnipeg – “20 Years of Coming Together …. Join the Celebration!”
Luncheon speakers, Chris, Eugene & Lawrence Warwaruk, told of their journey establishing LuxSole Restaurant “From Fire into Frying Pan: The Story of Farming & Food”.

2005 – Brandon – “Living for the Moment, Looking to Tomorrow”
Darci Lang was the keynote speaker and gave hints on how to “Magnify your Attitude”. Everyone can choose to magnify the 90% positive rather than the 10% negative.

2004 Portage – “Beyond the Gate – Changing Horizons”
Tour of the Food Development Centre.
Panel of farm women who have “Looked beyond their horizons”, taken on a variety of challenges and achieved their goals.

2003 Winnipeg – “Ride the Wave Refresh Your Soul”
Lunch speaker, Winnifred Lindsay, spoke on “Amazing Women – We’re ALL in the Same Boat”, motivating us to see the positively humorous side of aging.

2002 Brandon – “Refueling the Fire”
Arlene Jorgenson informed us “How to Stay Cool when your Pants are on Fire!” Rose Anna Schick shared her adventures travelling to Hudson Bay on a york boat.

2001 – Portage – “Women of all Seasons: Looking Back …. Moving Forward” Celebrating our 15th Anniversary
Dr. Val Farmer returned as a keynote speaker with the topic, “When Marriage & Farming Clash”. Closing speakers were Deanna & Tim Treadway who spent a year living as 19th century pioneers.

2000 – Winnipeg – “3% Makes a Difference! Discovering how …”
3% of Canadians are farmers … feeding the World!
The program cover featured photos of many farm women from across the province as “cover girls”.  A 2nd harvest of Farm Women’s stories resulted in the publishing of the book, “Around the Kitchen Table”.

1999 – Brandon – “<<Let’s Go 99>> Discovery and Change”
This year, “tales” were collected and resulted in the printing of a book to promote understanding of a Farm Women’s lifestyle, to build pride in a Farm Women’s work and to entertain each other. This book was for sale during the conference.
MFWC along with Basswood Women’s Institute sponsored as essay competition open to young women in Senior 3 & 4. The object of the competition was to give young women the opportunity to think of the career choices available to them in agriculture. Two women on the organizing committee, Marilyn Van Dorp & Coleen Ammeter, made cross stitch kits for purchase. They adopted the MFWC logo as the theme for these kits.

1998 – Winnipeg – “Prairie, Partnership and Pride”
Keynote and lunch speaker, Lynn Johnston, spoke on “For Better or For Worse …… Country Style”.

1997 – Brandon – “Neighbours En Route to 2000”
A select-a-session, “How to use the Internet for Practical Farm Management” took a guided tour of websites useful for farm management

1996 – Brandon – “Gems of the Prairie” (10th Anniversary)

Reesor’s Jewellers provided pins that were designed by Jane Geddes from Pilot Mound. The Manitoba Farm Women’s Conference logo was incorporated with the diamond symbol of the 10th Anniversary which symbolizes how we are all “Gems of the Prairie”.  Jo Banatyne-Cugnet and Yvette Moore opened conference with a slide presentation depicting the beauty of our prairie landscape. Jo is the author and Yvette is the artist of the book “A Prairie Alphabet”.



1995 – Winnipeg – “Winds of Change”Patti Hacult of Bruxelles depicted the contrast between earlier & current agricultural machinery in her artwork created for the 1995 Conference “Winds of Change”. This was available on T-shirts & mugs.


1994 – Winnipeg – “Family & Farm: the Heart of Our Heritage” (International Year of the Family)

A new twist this year was the addition of a mini conference targeted at girls from Grades 3 to 12. This half-day session exposed participants to opportunities within the agricultural field as well as gave participants exposure to a hands-on science project.

1993 – Winnipeg – “Window on the Future”

Conference opened with a Share Fair: The Sewing Gallery serger workshop, Farm Safety Resources, Meredith Miller ”From Bin to Bread Basket”. Select –a – Sessions included Farm Transfers, Adding Value to Agriculture, Promoting Agriculture in a Positive Way, Getting it Together: Organized to Energize, How National & International Decisions Affect my Farm. Note: The Sewing Gallery were sponsors for many years by donating a serger to be given away.

1992 – Winnipeg – “Balance for Our World”

Keynote speaker was Peter Gzowski, host of CBC’s Morningside show. Kathy McGill of Winnipegosis captured the essence of rural-urban life in her “Farming Feeds Us All” design which she created for the 1992 T-shirt.

1991 – Brandon – “Gaining Ground”

Tours to Brandon Research Station, Simplot, Brandon University and Daly House Museum were offered. Keynote speaker, Wendy Holm, took a look at farm women’s continuing and changing contributions to the agriculture industry.

1990 – Winnipeg – “Partners in Progress”

Several pre-conference tours were offered. Banquet featured a McPhee workshop Fashion Show.

1989 – No Conference

1988 Winnipeg – “Continuing with the Challenge”

Conference opened with tours of the Canadian Wheat Board, Commodity Exchange and Canadian Grains Institute. Conference opening keynote speaker was Marie Salway looking at “Managing In Uncertain Times – Coping With Change”.

1987 – Brandon – “Growing with the Challenge”

Winnifred Lindsay opened conference with her fun and enthusiastic topic “Hitting Home Runs When Life Throws You Curves”. Several of the select–a-session speakers were farm women from across the province.

1986 – Portage – “Making the Good Life Better”

Opening keynote speaker was Dr. Val Farmer from Rapid City, S.D. who spoke on “Challenges Facing Farm Women in Family Farm Operations”. Dr. Farmer also gave the final address “Making the Good Life Better”. 

The Unintentional, Unofficial MFWC Mascot Bradley Bear:2000-2019


There is something truly magical about bears.  Their appeal is universal.  


‘Bradley’ is a 2 ½ foot bear with a huge heart and a special fondness for farm women.  He unintentionally became a part of the Manitoba Farm Women’s Conference when it was held in Winnipeg in 2000. 
That year, Pat Hall of Wavey Creek Bears was a vendor at the Mini-Market.  When I first saw Bradley, he instantly stole my heart.  His fur was soft and cuddly, his eyes kind and wise.  His paws were rough like a farmer’s hands; his brown coveralls very suited to country living.  Although smitten, I was hesitant about actually purchasing him.  Pat did not know me but trusted me enough to say, “Take him to breakfast and think about it.  If you don’t want him, just bring him back.  If you decide to keep him, we’ll settle up later.”  Well, who could turn down an offer like that?
Bradley must have known his future was uncertain.  He behaved in the most polite and gentlemanly manner that morning.  He instantly made friends with everyone at our table as he enjoyed a coffee and croissant.  Afterwards his big brown eyes pleaded, “Don’t leave me now.”  It was then I decided he would make a perfect Christmas gift for my mother-in-law.  She was a special lady and he was a special bear.
However, the conference was just beginning.  It didn’t seem right to leave him in my hotel room all alone.  So he attended every conference activity from beginning to end.  He was very friendly and had hugs for everyone.  Bradley really knew how to work a room full of women, and especially enjoyed dancing during the entertainment at the Monday night banquet.
That Christmas, my mother-in-law heard all about the fun Bradley had over the course of those two days, (some stories from me; others from him).  The following November, as I prepared to leave for the next conference, Bradley ‘asked’ her if he could come with me.  She made sure he was looking his best and had me drop by to get him.  He took his place in the passenger seat (on a pillow so he could see out), donned a pair of sunglasses, was buckled in and off we went. 
It has been our routine ever since. Once we arrive at the conference he usually likes to sit by the registration table to greet people as they arrive.  Many women instantly recognize ‘Bradley Bear’ and approach him for a hug without hesitation.  Others simply look and wonder.  What has this bear got to do with the conference?  Who does he belong to and why is he here?
It is hard to believe 2014 will be his 15th year as an ‘unofficial mascot’. Bradley considers his presence essential at the conference.  He believes many of these women need his hugs and affection.  He makes them smile and feel loved.  He circulates freely with attendees; enjoys the company of all and doesn’t hesitate to sit with someone new.  Some mornings I hand him off and don’t have him returned until bedtime. One year he had a sleepover. (I never did hear all the details of that night…)  Bradley has taken to the stage with keynote speakers and musicians.  In  2012 he even ventured out on a shopping trip to Polo Park.  People ask if I’m afraid he won’t be returned.  I simply reply that he always comes back.
This extraordinary bear seems to bring joy and happiness to those around him.  I can’t imagine attending the Manitoba Farm Women’s Conference without Bradley.  After all these years, I know he would be missed.  Pat Hall claims her bears are “designed from the heart and stuffed with love” ~ something that special is definitely meant to be shared.

Credit:  Sandi Knight

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