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Order of Canada for East St. Paul's Doneta Brotchie

Posted: May 27, 2019

Order of Canada for East St. Paul's Doneta Brotchie

East St. Paul's Doneta Brotchie was more than a little surprised when she learned she would be one of just four Manitobans appointed to the Order of Canada in 2018.
Brotchie was told about her appointment last year and will be in Ottawa this month to receive one of our country's highest honours from the governor general.
"It was a huge surprise and completely overwhelming," said Brotchie, who received a phone call with the news last December.
"You don't set out in your life to do things that culminate into what's happened with this, but I got involved in volunteering when I was a trainee at The Bay with Junior Achievement and just became involved in different things." 
She certainly did, with a lengthy list of volunteer efforts and board appointments to her credit.
That kind of drive and commitment doesn't come out of thin air, and Brotchie said it was being raised by a single mom that taught her many of the lessons that helped shape her life.
"I was raised by a widowed mom, I really never had male and female role models, I had a parent role model," Brotchie said.
"So I didn't really feel that there was a glass ceiling on top of me, just because my mom presented the world as a place of opportunity."
And when opportunity presents itself, Brotchie grabs it.
"Any opportunity that presents itself I don't like to say anything but yes, and if I can't say yes myself, maybe I can help you in some way to find a yes somewhere," she laughed.
Brotchie is the current Chair of the Winnipeg Foundation.  The first major board Brotchie was part of was the Manitoba Theatre Centre, and from there, she became involved with several other arts groups, including the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Winnipeg Symphony and the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
She's currently Vice Chairperson of the Grace Hospital Foundation and the Chairperson of the Winnipeg Foundation.  She's also been involved with the Health Sciences Centre Foundation and was a volunteer with the Pan American Summer Games.
Brotchie, who graduated with Honours from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Commerce, achieved many first as a woman during her career, starting with her first job at The Bay.
"I was the first downtown store manager for The Bay who was female, I was the first female senior executive to head a region as a VP for CIBC, for any of the big 5 banks, first female president of The Manitoba Club, and technically was also the first female member," she said.
"I was really fortunate that situations presented themselves that I could be involved in that led to interesting journeys along the way and new opportunities."
During Brotchie's time at the Manitoba Club, which was established in 1874 as a gentleman's only club and is the oldest private club in Western Canada, numerous advancements were made, including opening the club to two equal members per household and holding events specifically aimed at women, families and businesses, rather than just men.
"It became a much more well rounded club than it had been," she said.
Brotchie, who was raised in Fort Garry and Charleswood and has lived in East St. Paul since 1990, also served as the paid director for the Bears on Broadway fundraiser for CancerCare and worked with Investors Group on the Canstruction fundraiser for Winnipeg Harvest and Habitat for Humanity.
Canstruction featured architects and engineers designing and building sculptures out of canned goods that were all donated to the two causes.
"For a brief period of time Winnipeg had the Guinness World record for the most food raised in a 24-hour period and we had 30 tons worth of sculptures made out of canned food in Polo Park," Brotchie said.
"There was quite rigorous regulations around how you could construct them, you had to use CAD drawings and have them stand on their own, you couldn't tape everything together and just pull it apart and give a food bank a bunch of cans with no information, so it was incredible to see what people could do with that."
Brotchie is now in her 12th year running the Volunteer Manitoba and Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce joint program called Leadership Winnipeg, which works with young people to help them develop into strong leaders.
In the first year, attendees work on a team project, self-development and governance training and in year two they're matched with leaders on various boards.
 "The next generation of community leaders have all kinds of assets and all kinds of contributions they can make so it's great to see them engaged in community leadership roles, which is what our second year does," she said.
"From that I get tremendous satisfaction and pride because the people coming to the program are so good.  When I'm reading about the new boards being put in place and seeing the names of some of Leadership Winnipeg alumni, it's tremendous."
She said she takes great pride in passing on the lessons she learned from her mom about being able to achieve whatever it is you feel passionate about, regardless of gender, race or limitations others might impose on you.
"That's definitely something I believe in strongly and I want that for our Indigenous population, I want that for the newcomers that come to Canada, and I would love to see every child have a life of hope where they can have a life that allows them to achieve things, big or small, but things they would like to see themselves accomplish."


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