Lynn Lake homecoming’s success the result of an army of volunteers

The Lynn Lake Community Development Corporation (CDC) hosted the Lynn Lake Homecoming 2017 on Aug. 18-20. This is the first major event of this type that has ever occurred in Lynn Lake, to the best of my knowledge, and the CDC and organizing committee members did an incredible job pulling it all together over the past nine months.

The question, “What have we gotten ourselves into?” has been asked many times since last October, when the town and province announced the renaming of Provincial Road 391 to the Life Is A Highway. What began as the return of a multiple Juno Award-winning Officer of the Order of Canada coming back to his birthplace grew to a community-wide event, attracting guests and visitors from across Manitoba and beyond. The imagination, drive and creativity of the numerous volunteers within the community combined to create a three-day event that will be forever remembered by both residents and visitors alike.

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A number of guests made their first trip to Lynn Lake this August. Many guests also came home for the first time in years to see that while Lynn Lake looks a little rough on the outside, there is a resilience within this northern jewel and a great deal of optimism for the future. Executive and silver event sponsors Alamos Gold Inc. and Corazon Mining Ltd. remain active in the community and region and are a key source of the vision of a brighter future here. The continuing cooperative relationship between the provincial government and the Town of Lynn Lake also speaks of better days ahead for Lynn Lake and the Northwest Manitoba region.

The entertainment for the event was one of the greatest highlights, featuring musical talents from a purely Manitoba origin. All performers, from the Lynn Lake Idol participants to Sunday openers Leaf Rapids band (and Tom, of course) are rooted in the keystone province. Event security was provided by the Bear Clan Patrol Inc., another proud “Made in Manitoba” organization.

While it was hoped that Homecoming 2017 would attract between 700 and 800 attendees, event attendance was about 500, according to CDC chairperson Eugene Shin. When asked if he thinks the event could see a larger draw in the future ... he smiles, and stops talking. Neither he, nor the rest of the CDC and organizing committee can be faulted for being non-committal about enquiries regarding future Homecoming events. The dedication and tireless effort that the CDC and its army of volunteers have put into the event is a huge accomplishment for all involved, particularly as none of them have had previous experience organizing an event this large, long and with so many moving pieces. One CDC member I spoke with (who wished to remain nameless) equated the process to being “…like juggling tigers. Not cats, tigers.”

As summer in northwest Manitoba winds down, we are left to reflect on what was with an eye towards what will be. Tom Cochrane said it best, “Just tell ‘em we’re survivors.”

James Lindsay is a former mayor of Lynn Lake.

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