Raymond Massinon has been involved in a tremendous amount of volunteer work in the St. Claude/Haywood area over the years, and was just honoured for that effort. He received the Governor General Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers.
He lives in Haywood and operates a dairy farm where his brother and oldest son also work. He explains how recognition of his volunteerism first took place two years ago.
"I knew nothing about it," says Massinon. "It's my children that made the nomination. They knew I could be a recipient of it. I had no knowledge that they had done that. Once I was accepted for the award, they sent some references. And I guess they must have checked up on them: six people. They wanted to make sure that the story was legit. And then I think it was a phone call that I had received that I was going to be awarded this medal for volunteerism."
Massinon says the pandemic was taking place at the time, and they informed him that when the time was right, or they could fit it into her schedule, the Lieutenant Governor General from Manitoba would present the medal to him.
"I received a letter in the mail about four months ahead of that date, requesting that we show up at the Governor's House right behind the Legislative buildings," continues Massinon. "That's where the ceremony took place September 28th, this fall."
Like a true volunteer, he notes he's not a big fan of receiving awards, but acknowledges that he has worked countless hours in volunteer work with broomball, as well as with other boards in the community area.
Massinon adds he appreciates the recognition. He says it's nice because broomball is very small in our province and this helps get the word out about the sport.
"We've hosted a few nationals in Portage in the past," adds Massinon. "We are hosting Juvenile Nationals this spring in Portage again. That's at Stride Place. There's a lot of people who are involved. It's not just myself, but I'm definitely the one who's doing most of the footwork, organizing, and this and that. Being busy on the dairy and beef cows, I don't go to that many events. I used to, more in the past. We got a good group of volunteers in Manitoba from the Saint Claude area and the other areas. The other biggest area would be McCreary, and Glenella. Riding mountain; there's a lot of broomball in that area, also."
He says, at first, he was more or less stuck with the job when no one took over at one point, but says he really enjoys seeing the kids play.
"When I started in 99, we had a men's team," says Massinon. "We had a bush league called Riding Mountain-Prairie Mountain. We had teams from Somerset, Notre Dame, Rathwell Treherne, Bruxelles, and Mariapolis. And then when some of the guys on the team got too old to play, and my kids were in Grades 10/11/12. So, we took some of their friends, and that's how it began. We started with that youth program and we entered a few high school mixed provincials, and it's really taken off since then."
He says a highlight took place in 2018 at Stride Place when they were in the championship game on the east side. Massinon notes it was the Senior Provincials.
"They almost won it all," continues Massinon. "It was quite impressive. Now in St. Claude, we have weekly scrimmages. There's really no one to play against except for Glenella, Riding Mountain, and McCreary area. Most people get only started after harvest, especially after hunting. Some rinks have natural ice, so it's usually not much before Christmas before they get the ice in."
Massinon explains they also started a program last year for players who are in Grades 3 to 8, which has really taken off.
"We have about 50 to 60 students or athletes of the younger age playing, so that's really nice to see," says Massinon. "It shows that we got the future broomball players coming up, so it will be good for our area and for the province."
Massinon says they're also preparing to host the Juvenile Nationals, or the U20 boys and girls division, on April 2nd and 7th.
"We'll have teams from Saskatchewan, Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba participating."
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VIDEO: kids from St. Claude and surrounding area playing Broomball at the St. Claude Haywood Arena. Broomball in St. Claude is played by all ages ranging from Grades 3 to 12 and Men & Ladies.