Growing up in Gillam, Mervin Reibin actively took part in outdoor recreation in the Northern locale by trapping, hunting and fishing with his dad and friends, building snow forts, and skating at the Rec Centre.
Now as a Patrol Leader with the Junior Canadian Rangers (JCR) program, Mervin passes on that love for the outdoors and the skills he learned with local youth. Together, with support from volunteers, Mervin teaches local youth three vital skills: Traditional, Ranger and Life, as they explore the activities available in their northern backyard.
“Gillam is a dream location for outdoors people as you are only minutes away from leaving the security of a small community and immersing yourself into the wild,” said Mervin, whose day job with Manitoba Hydro is as a Trades Training Specialist. “Our backyard is a vast wilderness with lots of opportunities to get out and explore it – we like hiking, biking, kayaking, canoeing, but there are so many activities you can choose whatever you like.”
Getting youth involved in all northern Manitoba has to offer brought Mervin – self-described as shy – into his leadership role with JCR. “I wanted to keep the patrol active, so I replaced the departing leader who was leaving Gillam. We have volunteers for other programming in Gillam, mainly sports, but what the JCR program needed regarding the outdoors I had in my skill set and I enjoy.”
Since taking on the role in 2014, Mervin has led local youth on many adventures including, skiing at Mystery Mountain in Thompson, scuba diving in the Hudson Bay, and snowmobiling 200 km from Gillam to McClintock where they camped for a few days with the Churchill JCRs before returning to our communities.
“We also led a group on a hike from Pisew Falls to Kwasitchewan – we carried all our camping gear and food with us for four days and prepared all our own dehydrated meals. That was a 30 km round trip,” said Mervin.
In his role at Manitoba Hydro, Mervin also engages with local youth at our Northern Training Centre to spark their interest in trades or employment with our organization.
“I’m involved with Recruitment and Diversity career fairs – we provide a one-month work experience program for high school students as part of Gillam’s 4+1 programming,” said Mervin. “I am only able to commit the time and energy that I do in all my efforts because of the support for the JCR program by the Canadian Armed Forces, Manitoba Hydro, volunteers and most of all my family and friends.
Mervin also serves as a training officer and volunteer member of the TSOM North Emergency Response Crew, who help protect Manitoba Hydro facilities and local communities by fighting fires and performing first aid and rescue operations, among other tasks.
Other volunteer activities in his community include acting as safety manager for Gillam minor hockey and leading Team Going the Distance to raise funds for the SickKids Foundation – an event he aims to make an annual fundraiser.
In turn, Mervin’s commitment and volunteerism are recognized and appreciated by his local community who nominated him as an Honour 150 recipient, an honour he received earlier this month and humbly acknowledges.
“It wouldn’t have been possible for me to even be considered for this nomination if it wasn’t for all the people that make my efforts possible, the support of my wife to do these things, the fact that many people help out with programming, and the parents who encourage their kids to participate,” said Mervin. “Credit goes to Jayson Oliver (Operating Supervisor, Long Spruce) for taking on Second In Command for the JCR patrol; Katharina “Kat” Heinrichs, who is the Adult Chair and has been my unofficial right hand, and Jill Larkin, Patrol Leader for Churchill JCRs for their involvement over many years to support these activities. I couldn’t do any of this without their help.
“And last, but not least, the youth seeing value in what we offer and finding it rewarding.
“For me, my reward is the excitement of the kids doing things they never thought they could do,” said the father of three. “What can these kids do with opportunities? I was very shy – I never see myself in the spotlight, and ensure these kids know my story so they know they also can make an impact if they choose to.
“I’m trying to plant that seed for when they are older, ‘who will do what I’m doing for their kids?’”
Read more about Mervin and other Honour 150 recipients: Junior Canadian Ranger leader, MMIWG advocate among 150 Manitobans honoured for contributions | Thompson Citizen
What is Honour 150?
In early 2020, Honour 150, presented by Canada Life, invited Manitobans to recognize people from across the province who give back to the community and enrich the places in which we live, work, play, and come together in unity.
Nominated by people from their own communities, Manitoba 150 is delighted to be able to recognize 150 outstanding people from across Manitoba who represent a variety of ages, experiences, and community roles. Read more about Manitoba 150.