Members of the Notre Dame de Lorette CWL council pose for a photo on the church steps. The council has been honoured with the Manitoba Premier’s Award for its service to the community. Photo courtesy Notre Dame de Lorette CWL

CWL council earns premier’s award

  • October 1, 2021

The Notre Dame de Lorette Council of The Catholic Women’s League (CWL) has been honoured by the province of Manitoba with the Premier’s Volunteer Service Award.

The honour was given to the CWL council Sept. 23 for the 32 years of service to the community.

The group has been involved with various advocacy projects, while fundraising initiatives from 2015-2019 have raised $130,000 to support those in need of critical surgeries and supplies. The group also initiated ongoing collections of items for the homeless and marginalized communities.

“We’re just joyful and humble servants with really no expectation of accolades or awards,” said Rolande Chernichan, charter president of the council and member for the past 31 years. “This award really blows us away.”

The group was founded in 1989 and has been active ever since. Under the leadership of president Lacey Bernardin, the 42-member council has been involved in a long list of volunteer and advocacy initiatives over the past few years. It has organized and co-ordinated a social to support a 14-year-old in the community who had been paralyzed following a back surgery. The $40,000 raised went towards home modifications and a specialized van to accommodate for the mobility device. The council also raised $50,000 for a community member who needed to travel to Germany for specialized surgery not available in Canada.

Community safety has also been a concern. A stretch of highway in Lorette, southeast of Winnipeg, is a lot safer thanks to the council’s efforts. A drive to build a single crosswalk by the local high school on Provincial Road 207 eventually led to three in total being installed on the highway: one at Lorette Collegiate, one at Lorette Community Complex and the other near Notre Dame de Lorette Church.

“One action led to three crosswalks along Highway 207 which traverses right through the heart of the town of Lorette,” said  Chernichan. “That was our sense of joy and accomplishment. It took a few years but we got there.”

The group is also involved in the Adopt-a-Highway program and actively roll up their sleeves to help keep the highway free of litter. This is just one of their initiatives in response to the CWL national theme inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’.

The council also runs a clothing and supplies collection every fall that fills a trailer to deliver to remote reserves in the region.

The council’s actions caught the eye of parishioner Armand Poirier who nominated the council for the award. Poirier, a member of the Knights of Columbus and a municipal councillor, appreciates all the work the league has done over the years.

“I think that the CWL especially now that they’ve gotten this award, they are going to be a beacon and an example to young people in our community,” said Poirier. “They are following the example of Christ and help those that are hurt to heal. That’s the beautiful thing about their organization.”

Chernician said “we have a lot of strong women” with leadership skills and says the effectiveness of the council is a reflection of the diversity of gifting and qualifications possessed by the women in the league.

From school teachers to nurses and mothers of children with special needs, the scope of issues they are able to tackle is a direct reflection of the breadth of perspective inherent in the council, she said.

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