More Than Just a Skating Rink: Altruistic Peers Strive for Change

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(Left to right) Everett Cowley, Clement Gustafson, Mary-Anne Mooring, Glen White (Photo Credit: Damon Hunter)

Fellow workers make efforts towards a better future for youth

By: Damon Hunter

Thursday,  November 15th was the official opening of the 2018-2019 season of skating at Naotkamegwanning’s Chi Key Wis Arena. It brought smiles, not just to skaters, but also to the people that made it possible.

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Local skaters participate in an open-skate held at the arena (Photo Credit: Damon Hunter)

Since the major reconstruction of the Chi Key Wis Arena four years ago, Mary-Anne Mooring has been the woman behind the scenes helping to make it happen.

Mooring is a longtime Power Engineer, with three decades of experience, including Chief Engineer at the old Winnipeg Arena which housed the Jets and Winnipeg Moose, and Assistant Chief Engineer at the University of Manitoba. She was also responsible for overhauling Kenora Recreational Centre and making their ice.

Mechanical work was what she specialized in for the most part. “I took care of all the physical plans,” she stated.

She expressed gratitude for her fellow workers Glen White, Everett Cowley, and CJ Gustafson. Without the band and council’s financial and motivational support, no such progress would be made, she explained.

Mooring says she is grateful for her partner Denise Lysak who writes some of the grants for Naotkamegwanning projects alongside her.

Everett Cowley is one of the first arena workers, employed there since day one, ‘from where it was just a few light bulbs working and natural ice’.

Prior to his current position, he had already been working at the arena before major changes took place, including removal of mold. His current job, maintaining the Zamboni and ice, is a critical one. Cowley commented that so far there haven’t been many problems and with everyone’s work contributions, things have been running very smoothly.

He related that his main motivation is the kids. He remarked that his grandson is an influence as well, stating that he provides a major incentive to do what Cowley does day by day.

(Left to right) Everett Cowley, Clement Gustafson, Mary-Anne Mooring, Glen White (Left to right) Everett Cowley, Clement Gustafson, Mary-Anne Mooring, Glen White

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(Photo Credit: Damon Hunter)

Together as a group, the workers have been largely responsible for most of the grander changes around Whitefish Bay. Locations such as the new beach, the baseball diamond, and the basketball court are some of the their accomplishments and there will soon be a new skate park along with a conjoined bicycle track.

The goal, Mooring says, is to give the youth a chance at finding what they enjoy and to have something fun to do in their free time.

“We’re about making things better, not just taking care of ourselves,” she says. “It’s about the community.”

Many more projects are aspired for, the biggest being a whole new training facility for young athletes. Wrestling, hockey, and lacrosse are the prime targets as of now. Beach volleyball and a new fitness centre are also very much wanted.

“I know there’ve been some great athletes that could’ve come out of Whitefish Bay and they never had the courage to be able to do what they should’ve done,” Mooring said. “To become those athletes, they need a network for support.”

The following article was also published in the Kenora Daily Miner – The Enterprise in print and online. Available here

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