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Janice Filmon
all photos by Gustavo Levy

L to R: Marjorie and Morley Blankstein, Frank Dimant, and Gail Asper

Tova and Larry Vickar

Richard Swyston, Cheryl and Earl Barish



by Rhonda Spivak, December 14, 2010

Honorary Chairs of the well attended event, at the Fairmont Hotel were Marjorie Blankstein, Tannis Richardson, James Burns and Arnold Frieman. Co-chairs of the event were Hennie Corrin, Jim Carr and 2009 Honouree Arni Thorsteinson. Frank Dimant CEO of B’nai Brith Canada from Toronto was present to present Filmon with her award.
The Program began with the lighting of the Menorah, which B’nai Brith has done since 1875 to re-dedicate itself its principles.
The first candle, lit by honorary Chair Arnold Frieman and his wife Myra Frieman, was  lit for “ Peace.” The next candle lit by Babs and Ruth Asper was for” hope” that anti-Semitism, racism and hate will be vanquished. The third candle lit for a vision of respecting each other’s human rights and harmonious intercultural and interfaith relations   was lit by Rev Rudy Fidel, Co-Chair of the Manitoba Jewish Christian Roundtable and Rev. Raymond McLean, co-chair of the Manitoba Jewish Aboriginal Roundtable. The fourth candle was lit for “justice” by Naomi Levine, former B’nai Brith Advocacy Regional Chair and Lyle Smordin, Past President, B’nai Brith Canada and Present Vice President, B’nai Brith International. The fifth candle for Democracy, (‘there is no war among democratic states”) was lit by Marsha Cowan, CEO of the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba and Richard Swyston, Chairman, B’nai Brith Student Human Rights Award 2010.    The sixth candle for Truth was lit by Larry and Tova Vickar. The seventh candle was lit for the brave Canadians and American forces in Afghanistan and members of the Israeli Defense Forces all of whom who confront terrorism to preserve the “values we cherish.” This last candle was lit by Cheryl Barish, Co-chair B’nai Brith Manitoba Jewish-Christian Roundtable and Earl Barish, Chairman of the National Executive Board.
A brief video presentation outlined the many activities of B’nai Brith, including providing special low income housing for seniors in Ontario, human rights and Israel advocacy, and a whole litany of activities and programs in Winnipeg.
Arthur Mauro, introduced Filmon saying he was her “oldest” friend, since “I’ve been around since Manitoba’s entry into Confederation.”
He captured Filmon’s character by saying she was an individual “that would rather light a candle than curse the darkness.”
Janice Filmon, on accepting the B’nai Brith Award of Merit, thanked the Honourary  Chairs and said she appreciated “the opportunity to identify with and help fund through this tribute dinner the good works of B’nai B’rith, the largest Jewish organization in the world.”
She said she accepted the award “on behalf of my parents – Marjorie & Harold Wainwright – my husband, Gary, my family, - my friends.”
She added, “I have no specialized field of interest or expertise. I’m a lover of life. My work is human nature. Real life is all I know.”
Filmon paid tribute to her parents and shared a poignant childhood story:
 “It was in our home, my younger sister and I were taught a “service” ethic and volunteerism was embraced. The pride of place and purpose I feel in this community started early. Let me share with you memories of time spent with my Dad.
“I don’t know what enabled me to spend a day alone with my Dad on the Winnipeg Beach Boardwalk, anchored at one end by the roller coaster and the roller rink at the other.   A place of magic for a seven year  old. He encouraged me to play the games of chance – I didn’t have much confidence. He would throw the first 2 balls – then say – C’mon – you throw the last ball – you can do it! By the end, of our playing, we had enough points for a prize. Before we chose our prize, we went for a drink. My favorite was Orange Crush. Before I’d finished my first drink, he called the waiter and said ‘my daughter would like another drink.’ I didn’t even have to ask. What a memory! I chose a pale green china tea cup with pink rosebuds. That cup has come to represent the love my father poured into me. It is one of my most cherished treasures. Love is often spelled T.I.M.E.”
Filmon spoke about life being a “series of choices,” and about being fortunate enough to attend University of Manitoba and meet her future husband Gary (they just celebrated their 47th anniversary) and make life long friends.
She continued by saying “I would like to speak to my children – for just a moment, I love being your Mom. I admire you and you teach me. But – I want you to know, good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are, to some extent, a gift. Good character by contrast, is not given to us. We have to build it piece by piece; by thought, choice, courage and determination. “I’m so proud of your fine character. I love you so much.” 
Filmon spoke about family, as the foundation of society: “A family is a circle, and in the end when everything is stripped away – it’s your family who is there for you.”
She spoke of the time she and Gary were guests of the Jewish National Fund, and travelled to Israel for the 3000th anniversary of Jerusalem.
“I spent 12 days there and was touched to my core… If I could choose to take my children for a visit anywhere in the world – I would choose Israel.”
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.