Ritchot Firefighters Honoured at Volunteer Supper

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Ritchot firefighters were honoured at this year's Volunteer Appreciation Event Lesley Gaudry

On Friday, September 29, a place built by volunteers was filled with volunteers. The Mujnicipality of Ritchot hosted their fourth annual Volunteer Appreciation Event at Cartier Park in Ste. Agathe. The evening was filled with food, fellowship, and fun, with 147 volunteers coming out to celebrate their commitment to the community.

The volunteers represented 33 different organizations and committees, including people who help Ritchot Senior Services, park committee members, the daycare board, Brownies and Guide leaders, industrial park volunteers, Chamber representatives, parish board members, youth leaders, Ritchot CDC (Community Development Corporation) board members, Ste. Agathe CDI (Community Development Inc.) members, and volunteer firefighters from the Ritchot Fire Department.

The municipal council assisted staff with the evening, doing everything from bartending to greeting and registering visitors.

The evening started with old-fashioned kids games with potato sack races, three-legged races, and a candy scramble for the wee ones and not-so-wee ones.

Supper was catered by Danny’s Whole Hog with pulled pork, beans, coleslaw, homemade buns, and baked potatoes. Each volunteer was given a reusable snack bag donated by Colibri Canada, a We Need S’More Volunteers Like You packet, as well as tickets to the upcoming Southeast Lifestyles Expo scheduled for November 3–5 in Île-des-Chênes. Following supper, a bonfire was lit for folks to enjoy their s’more packets as kids ran around in the park through the grass and trees.

A special part of this year’s celebration was the portion honouring the Ritchot Fire Department, which marks its fiftieth anniversary this year, having been formed in 1967. The department started with local residents volunteering their time to attend to grass and house fires with an old pumper truck that used to be used to spray for grasshoppers.

Fast-forward 50 years and the Ritchot Fire Department is now comprised of over 45 men and women and two fully equipped fire halls—soon to be three fire halls, actually, with the one in Ste. Agathe on the cusp of construction.

MLA Bob Lagasse presented Fire Chief Scott Weir with three service certificates, one for each fire hall and its respective firefighters. Following this, a roll call of all current firefighters was read, with those present coming forward to be recognized. Each man and woman received a fiftieth anniversary T-shirt, and a group photo was taken.

The centerpiece of the photo was a commemorative painting completed by local artist Tanya Waddell. The painting celebrates the qualities our firefighters possess—dedication, strength, courage, and commitment. The painting will be digitized and reprinted to serve as an outdoor painting outside each fire hall, to mark the anniversary.

Lagasse and Ritchot CEDO Lesley Gaudry spoke of the dedication of the volunteer firefighters, as well as their years of service. When most people run away from disaster, our volunteer firefighters run toward it to serve and protect.

Four special awards were presented to members for their exemplary service, including to Scott Weir for 20 years of service, Mr. Paul Houle for 20 years of service, Mr. Jeff Stefaniuk for 21 years of service, and Mr. Marcel Courchaine of for 37 years of service.

A 12-minute fireworks display lit up the sky at the end of the night. Families, friends, and firefighters stood still in the calm, cool night air to enjoy the spectacle.

And in true volunteer form, what should have been a few hours of clean up and closing was completed in one hour, because our volunteers stepped up and did what they do best: help with a smile.

For more information

A committee has been organized to host a fiftieth anniversary reunion barbecue in the sprint of 2018 for all past and current fire-fighters. Past members of the Ritchot Fire Department are encouraged to register with Lesley at cedo@ritchot.com to ensure that they are on the roster for notification. At this time, thanks must be given to grant funding received from Manitoba’s Historic Resources Branch. Also, a fiftieth anniversary commemorative booklet will be published and distributed to all members.

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