Aboriginal Tourism

Thompson National Aboriginal Day Organizing Committee is recognized as a finalist in this category for recognizing the diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people through its annual National Aboriginal Day celebration in downtown Thompson. Last year an estimated 1,000 people attended the celebration, with at least half of those being visitors to Thompson from surrounding areas.

Festival Manipogo is recognized as a finalist in this category for celebrating the St. Laurent Métis community's fishing traditions by giving visitors the opportunity to see traditional commercial ice-fishing demonstrations still used by today. The festival also features traditional and modern Métis fiddling, jigging and storytelling among other fun winter activities.

Aspiring Youth

Benjamin Gillies is recognized as a finalist in this category as the primary founder and executive director of the Winnipeg Trolley Company, which provides tourism services aboard Manitoba's only heritage trolley. In addition to providing the engaging sightseeing tours of Winnipeg, Benjamin is also the vice-president of the volunteer group, Friends of Lower Fort Garry.

Natalie Thiesen is recognized as a finalist in this category as she has been actively involved in the Manitoba's tourism industry in various roles since 2003. Natalie has been a tour guide, as a junior analyst with the Ministry of Tourism and tourism coordinator representing Manitoba's bilingual communities with CDEM. She is currently the Sales Manager for Tourism Winnipeg, where she develops and executes integrated sales plans to maximize Winnipeg visits in niche markets and travel trade.

Winnipeg Airports Authority Award of Distinction

Rivers West is recognized as a finalist in this category for facilitating, coordinating and encouraging a cooperative and integrated approach to promote tourism, to recognize and to sustain the cultural heritage values of the historic Red River and its surrounding communities. This not-for-profit works collaboratively with all levels government, First Nations, key stakeholders and citizens from Emerson to Winnipeg in an effort to develop the Red River corridor and it communities as a tourism destination.

Gail McDonald is recognized as a finalist in this category for her 15 years of service in various roles in Manitoba's tourism industry. From the establishment and development of the West Interlake Trading Company, to managing the Interlake Tourism Association and providing tourism and customer service related training, Gail has demonstrated innovation, leadership and partnership.

Manitoba Provincial Park Interpreters are recognized as finalists in this category for over 50 years of connecting the public to Manitoba's unique natural wonders and cultural history. The park interpreters develop and deliver engaging programs for park visitors and act as ambassadors who promote tourism opportunities in our parks.

Event of the Year

Bicentenary of the Red River Selkirk Settlement is recognized as a finalist in this category for commemorating the historic milestone of the 1812 arrival of settlers in Winnipeg through a series of events. These events, driven by a dedicated corps of volunteers, included participation from the Scottish, Aboriginal, Métis and Francophone communities, highlighting this as a truly Manitoban celebration.

Festival du Voyageur is recognized as a finalist in this category for its legacy as the largest winter and largest francophone festival in Western Canada. Investments made to infrastructure and artistic programming have elevated the festival's profile, reflecting positively on Manitoba's tourism industry.

Lockport Dam Family Festival is recognized as a finalist in this category for promoting, educating and engaging people in the unique history and multicultural development of the Lockport area. In its third year, the festival grown to include new programming and family-friendly activities next to the Red River and the unique St. Andrews Lock and Dam.

Marketing Excellence Award

The Manitoba Museum is recognized in this category for its marketing campaign for the record-breaking temporary exhibit, Dinosaurs Unearthed. The campaign featured a variety of media, including reaching out to students in Winnipeg and rural areas. The campaign's success helped the exhibit welcome over 80,000 visitors and generate $1.5 million in admissions sales.

Festival du Voyageur is recognized in this category for its 2012 "Vive le Festival" campaign. The campaign highlighted the festival's cultural diversity and reached out to immigrants and visible minorities, building new connections with the Filipino and African communities. With the support of a new website and social media initiatives, the campaign was successful in reaching many new first time visitors to the festival.

Partnership Award

Rivers West is recognized in this category for its creation of partnerships with 13 municipalities, towns and cities and over 20 other stakeholders to create its 2030 Vision Plan - an outline of how to establish the Red River Corridor a unified tourism destination. Under the leadership of Rivers West, partners and stakeholders participated in the year-long planning process, contributing regional development ideas and committing to executing specific strategies for tourism development.

Rockin' the Fields of Minnedosa is recognized in this category for operating as a cooperative to organize the yearly music festival. The festival's volunteer board of directors, municipal partners and community organization partners work together to plan, promote and coordinate all aspects of the festival that attracts over 4,000 people.

Product Development Award

Integrity Foods - "Artisan Baker for a Day" is recognized as a finalist in this category for providing a new "on the farm" culinary experience. This one-of-a-kind, day-long experience provides visitors with a hands-on baking experience that allows them to interact with locals and learn something new.

Winnipeg Trolley Company is recognized as a finalist in this category for providing a unique and engaging city tour aboard Manitoba's only heritage trolley. Designed to resemble a 1920s streetcar, the trolley provides a historically-immersive experience for visitors as the tours fill a need for a comprehensive public sightseeing tour of Winnipeg.

Parks Canada - Riding Mountain National Park is recognized as a finalist for creating oTENTiks - a blend of a tent and A-frame cabin to meet visitors' changing needs and expectations. Since launching in 2012, occupancy levels have exceeded targets and has increased occupancy in areas of the Wasagaming campground that were previously underused.

Service Excellence Award

Paul Conchatre of Birdtail Waterfowl is recognized as a finalist in this category for his 18 years of service in Manitoba's resource-based tourism. Through his waterfowl outfitting operation, Paul caters to over 175 visitors every fall, connecting with them through social media, integrating cultural elements into the experience encouraging continual learning and development for both himself and his staff.

Delta Winnipeg is recognized as a finalist in this category for its dedication to a service-centric culture, with improvements made in 70 critical touch points of the guest experience. The hotel's commitment to continuous improvement is reflected by the value it places on guest feedback as well as on staff development and education programs.

Leslie Alexander is recognized as a finalist in this category for her long service with FortWhyte Alive. From member to volunteer to staff member, Leslie has become the "face of FortWhye". Her passion for nature, her knowledge about FortWhyte, her dedication to continual learning and her enthusiasm have impacted visitor satisfaction.

Sustainable Tourism Award

Crow Wing Trail is recognized as a finalist in this category for sustaining the history, cultural and environmental heritage this 19th century trading route, now part of the Trans Canada Trail. The trail highlights the fauna, flora as well as the people who helped develop Manitoba while providing economic benefits for local communities through a viable tourism model.

C4 - Central Canada Comic Con is recognized as a finalist in this category for its role in supporting local businesses through welcoming 34,000 fans and 1000 vendors at its annual event. This event spurs economic benefits for downtown Winnipeg while supporting a variety of not-for-profit organizations.

Volunteer of the Year Award

Sandy Hudson is recognized as a finalist in this category for founding and organizing Experience Manitoba - a group created to allow women to experience a variety of Manitoba events, activities and outdoor destinations in a safe, supportive and encouraging environment.

Fraser Stewart is recognized as a finalist in this category for his 39 years of volunteer work with the Marine Museum in Selkirk and for his involvement in a variety of tourism initiatives including the RM of St. Clements Heritage Committee, the Selkirk BIZ Tourism Committee, Rivers West and Bed & Breakfast Manitoba.

Monique Barnabé-Saurette is recognized as a finalist in this category for her long-standing volunteer service with Folklorama. For 25 years, Monique has been running the kitchen at the French-Canadian Pavillion, including menu planning, staffing, shopping, organizing as well as food preparation and cooking.