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by George Williams

Today is International Women’s Day 2023, which makes it a perfect time to celebrate the super women we have working at Churchill Wild. Women have always played a huge part in Churchill Wild’s success, and we’re proud to recognize these fabulous ladies (and the many more who work at our ecolodges during polar bear viewing season) on a day that celebrates the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.

Churchill Wild co-owner and founder Jeanne Reimer is the consummate hostess for Churchill Wild, and also happens to be an incredible chef with an extensive pedigree in the luxury lodge business. Jeanne parents founded Webber’s Lodges, and her skills in creating the ultimate home away from home for guests were acquired from early childhood. Her commitment to guest comfort has been unwavering ever since.

Jeanne’s cooking skills are legendary, and an invitation to her table is never turned down. The Arctic culinary sensations that guests experience inside our lodges are as memorable for our guests as their first encounters with the polar bears outside our lodges.

The blend of her husband Mike’s dreams and ambitions combined with Jeanne’s attention to detail has resulted in the ultimate wilderness experience, and Churchill Wild’s four remote ecolodges have become THE destination for wildlife enthusiasts around the world who are eager to hike the tundra and see polar bears and beluga whales in their natural environment, all while being wined and dined in elegantly Arctic fashion.

The culture of kindness and exceptional customer service you’ll find at the Churchill Wild lodges has been handed down through generations of Mike and Jeanne’s families, to family members and staff, including the fabulous women described below, and all have naturally embraced it.

VP Shari Wright is the master of organization at Churchill Wild, and one of her most noteworthy task is managing the movement of staff and guests in and out of our remote lodges throughout the season. This is a feat in itself, but she also coordinates freight shipments, hires and oversees training for staff, deftly shifts to Plan B when weather upends plans, and does it all with a cheerful smile. Oh – and did we mention she’s also in charge of supervising our accounting staff?

Shari graduated from Business Administration at Red River Community College in 1991, and like her sisters Jeanne (Reimer) and Toni (Morberg), she worked for her parents’ company, Webber’s Lodges, performing all the various jobs needed to run their northern lodges. Shari joined Churchill Wild in 2009 and her role has been evolving ever since.

In addition to her office responsibilities, Shari manages North Knife Lake Wilderness Lodge during the summer, and also oversees the sales and distribution Churchill Wild’s best-selling Blueberries & Polar Bear Cookbooks, authored by her mother Helen and Helen’s friend Marie Woolsey. Shari’s heart for the business of northern adventure tourism, and more specifically, the guests and staff that make it all possible, are unmatched.

Jackie Storry‘s high energy, desire for adventure, and general love of people, made her a perfect fit as Churchill Wild’s Vice President of Business Development. Jackie has worked in hospitality for over 35 years, starting as a server at a small local restaurant. Throughout her career she has managed restaurants, developed food service programs for schools and held senior sales and business development positions in hotel chains including Lakeview Hotels & Resorts and Alt Hotels. Her outgoing personality and positive outlook have a lasting impact on people, contributing to an unprecedented collection of friends and acquaintances.

Jackie has a deep connection with nature and is happiest when gardening, interacting with animals or exploring the outdoors, whether on an adrenaline pumping hike or lounging on the dock with her friends. She loves her family deeply and, as an avid home cook, is often hosting large dinners for them. Jackie is passionate about Canadian and Manitoban tourism, doing all she can to encourage others to fully embrace what her home has to offer. When not exploring locally, she can be found travelling, learning and discovering the world.

Churchill Wild Leadership Development Coach Toni Morberg grew up working in her family’s lodge and outfitting business alongside younger sisters Jeanne (Reimer) and Shari (Wright). During her formative years, she developed the skills, expertise, and penchant for leadership that have served her throughout her career. As an adult, Toni has operated/managed North Knife Lake Wilderness Lodge, served on the board of Travel Manitoba, owned and operated several successful businesses, and was the CFO of the YWCA in Thompson, Manitoba, among other accomplishments.

Toni was our CEO from 2017 through 2020 and now serves as leadership development coach and overall mentor for the team. These days, she’s busy pursuing her passion for lifelong learning and personal development through Soulaia, a natural health and wellness company she started with her three daughters and one of their close friends. Toni is a Certified Myers-Briggs Practitioner and an exemplary leader. Her commitment to personal and professional development have been indispensable to us, and we’re happy she’s making time to continue supporting us in this capacity.

With an artistic flair and an enviable head of red hair, Churchill Wild Sales Manager Sue Brown fills the roles of both Sales Manager and Graphic Designer for Churchill Wild. Since 2014, she has been instrumental in putting Churchill Wild’s best foot (paw?) forward as the first point of contact for many guest and partners. Sue can always be counted on to create flow and harmony throughout the company and this is invaluable during our busy season. It’s no surprise that multitasking and adaptability are two of her strengths, but it’s her creativity and cheerful demeanour that make her an irreplaceable team member.

Maggie Cole is Churchill Wild’s new Marketing Manager, and we’re happy she found us! The 27-year-old arrives in balmy Manitoba from Dunnville, Ontario, on Lake Erie, where she oversaw sales, marketing, and management at her family’s restaurant. Maggie worked her way up through the ranks at her family’s business and understands customer service the way only someone who has done it can. She started out busing tables, progressed to serving, moved up to management and then on to marketing, where her customer relations skills really began to shine.

Maggie was the face of her family’s business for seven years, bringing their brand to the forefront with an enhanced web and social media presence, and specializing in interacting with customers both online and offline. There’s a real art to taking the tone and warmth of great customer service online, similar to what we have done at Churchill Wild, and Maggie is a perfect fit!

It’s not often that you apply for a seasonal position as a server and end up full time at the office as the Administrative Assistant, but that’s just what happened when Gaylene Doerksen applied at Churchill Wild. And with two decades of experience in the travel industry, she turned out to be the perfect fit. Although her many duties keep her on her feet throughout the day, Gaylene still manages to make it back to her desk to answer the phone every time it rings (maybe it’s a superpower of hers?). Her primary responsibility is making sure Churchill Wild always leaves a great first impression, and her cheerful attitude and bright smile guarantees that happens.

Nicole Spinks is a bubbly, enthusiastic, organized go getter, which makes her ideal for her position as lodge manager at Seal River Heritage Lodge. Previously a competitive gymnast and a national cheerleading competitor, Nicole pursued a career in Developmental Psychology working with young adults with autism. She then jumped professions and became a dining room manager at a fishing lodge and an onsite manager at a wilderness lodge in Tasmania, Australia.

Nicole joined the Churchill Wild team in 2018, and alongside her husband Ben, they create the ideal balance of work and play at our lodges. Nicole has a true heart for the wilderness. She loves the absolute remoteness of the lodge and the feeling that you’re the only one who has ever stood in “that place.”

The daughter of Churchill Wild co-founders Mike and Jeanne Reimer, Karli Friesen officially started her career as a server/cleaner, then as assistant chef, and finally head chef at Seal River. Over the years of working in the kitchen, Karli and her husband Riley gained an appreciation for quality, locally grown produce, and along with Mike and Jeanne, launched Churchill Wild’s first regenerative agriculture branch in Kleefeld in 2019.

Along with their three kids, Karli and Riley tend Prairie Wild’s three-acre orchard and market garden, growing close to 100 varieties of fruits and vegetables. They supply the lodges with fresh produce during the summer and fall months, and sell locally through markets, grocery stores and a vegetable subscription service.

Karli can do anything that needs to be done at the lodges, and has also worked in both HR and Sales at the office. When not working, Karli keeps busy writing, homeschooling and finding new ways to get their kids to eat vegetables. Her and Riley enjoy traveling, all outdoor winter sports and activities, and raising their kids Wild.

Allison Francoeur is Churchill Wild’s lead expeditor and logistics coordinator. As one of Mike and Jeanne Reimer’s daughters, she has held a lot of different positions in the company. From a young age, Allison acted as co-hostess at the lodges, charming guests with her delightful chatter. By age 12, she’d transitioned to dishwasher and continued her quest for the perfect position from there, graduating to head server, dabbling as assistant chef, and even filling in as a construction helper during lodge renovations.

In 2016, Allison began a two-year program in Business Administration, majoring in marketing and working for Churchill Wild during her summer breaks as an HR and marketing assistant. After graduating, Allison joined the team full time in early 2019. Allison now splits her time between working in our head office for the first half of the year and expediting in Churchill from July through November.

Allison describes standing on the shores of Hudson Bay with a cup of hot chocolate in her hand and watching the northern lights dance, as one one of the best incentives she could ask for in a job. She loves to spend her downtime traveling, hiking and exploring alongside her husband, Jason and their dog, Kita.

Thank you to all the wonderful women above, and to the many more who work at Churchill Wild throughout the season, for all that you do for Churchill Wild — and in life — for all who surround you.

You are greatly appreciated!

The World’s Next Great Safari

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