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The Women of Churchill Wild. International Women's Day 2024.

The Women of Churchill Wild. International Women’s Day 2024.

by George Williams

Today is International Women’s Day 2024, 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’ve added even more fabulous females to the Churchill Wild fold this year. We’re very 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.

Jeanne Reimer, Co-owner and Founder of Churchill Wild

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 culinary sensations that guests experience inside our ecolodges 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, wolves, black bears, beluga whales and more wild creatures of the north 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.

Shari Wright, Vice President

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, VP of Business Development

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.

Toni Morberg, Leadership Development Coach

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.

Sue Brown, Sales Manager

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. During her third year with Churchill Wild, Sue travelled to Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge and had her first polar bear encounter. Even after the thousands of photos she’s seen come across her desk, the real thing still left her speechless.

Maggie Cole, Marketing Manager

Maggie Cole is Churchill Wild’s new Marketing Manager, and we’re happy she found us! The 29-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!

Gaylene Doerkesen, Administrative Assistant

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, Lodge Manager

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.”

Karli Friesen, Prairie Wild Operator

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 Heritage Lodge. Over her 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 Reimer, 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, Expeditor

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 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.

Jessica Day, Polar Bear Guide

Jessica Day, is one of our adventurous polar bear guides at Churchill Wild, and her love for the wild extends from the Arctic to the Antarctic. But Jessica is not your average guide — she divides her time between working with Churchill Wild during the summer and fall seasons and guiding on expedition cruise ships in the Antarctic during the Austral summer. Her passion for polar regions knows no bounds, and she brings a wealth of experience to every expedition.

Born in Canada, Jessica’s journey took her to New Zealand at the age of 3 and Australia at 6. However, her heart always yearned for the Canadian wilderness. In 2005, she returned to Canada for what was supposed to be just one ski season.

Jessica holds a dual degree in Business Management and Psychology. While her academic path led her to this unique combination, her childhood dream of becoming a marine biologist still lingers. Little did she know, the call of the wild would keep her captivated, making Canada her home ever since.

Jessica’s journey with Churchill Wild began in 2018 when she started as a server/housekeeper at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge. Polar bears are undoubtedly cool in her eyes, but her love extends to beluga whales, lichen, and chocolate. Notably, Jessica bucks the trend by staying off social media, preferring a more direct and immersive connection with the world around her.

Leanne Slatcher, Bookkeeper

Leanne Slatcher, our Bookkeeper at Churchill Wild, brings over two decades of experience and a passion for numbers that is truly unparalleled. Leanne’s journey in the world of finance began in 1999 when she graduated and promptly enrolled in the Computer Accounting Technician program at Red River College. Her career kicked off as a Customer Service Representative in Winnipeg, swiftly transitioning into the role of AP/AR Coordinator, where she honed her skills for six years.

In 2008, Leanne ventured into a new challenge as the Office Manager for a local construction company. Wearing many hats, she managed a spectrum of responsibilities. Leanne’s dedication and expertise earned her the position of General Manager in 2015. Throughout her 13 years, Leanne continued to enhance her knowledge base through additional courses at Red River College, covering Financial Accounting and Payroll/HR.

In 2021, Leanne took a bold step in her professional journey by founding Slatcher Bookkeeping. Driven by a desire for more flexibility and to be her own boss, she embraced the challenge of running her own business, rekindling her love for working directly with numbers. When she’s not immersed in the world of finance, Leanne is an avid baker. In an alternate universe, she envisions herself running a bakery in her quaint hometown of Lorette, Manitoba.

Leanne’s commitment to precision, her wealth of experience, and entrepreneurial spirit make her an invaluable asset to Churchill Wild. Her passion for numbers is matched only by her dedication to providing exceptional financial services.

Dana MacDonald, Sales Associate

Dana MacDonald is an enthusiastic Sales Associate at Churchill Wild, who joined our team in June 2023. Dana is a passionate advocate for the Arctic’s wonders and takes immense joy in curating unforgettable experiences for our guests.

Originally from Sudbury, Ontario, Dana developed an early appreciation for the beauty and diversity of Canada. Her life’s journey led her to Mabou, Cape Breton N.S., where she not only fell in love with the region but also found the love of her life. Dana is a proud parent of three wonderful children and three adorable four-legged grandchildren.

Dana’s heart for hospitality and care extends beyond her immediate family. As a foster parent for 15 years, she provided a loving home to numerous children in need. After this fulfilling chapter, Dana entered the workforce, gaining valuable sales and customer service experience at Canada Post and a plumbing and heating company. Dana’s husband aptly describes her superpower as learning and adapting, a quality that she embraces wholeheartedly. She thrives on challenges, constantly pushing herself to grow both personally and professionally.

Dana’s journey with Churchill Wild reached a pinnacle when she visited Dymond Lake Ecolodge on the Great Ice Bear safari last October. This experience was a dream come true for Dana, who marveled at seeing polar bears up close, witnessing the mesmerizing northern lights, and revelling in the cozy ambiance of the lodge. This Arctic adventure left an indelible mark on Dana, and she delights in sharing this passion with others.

Chelsea Hagen, Sales Associate

Chelsea Hagen, a seasoned Sales Associate, brings a decade of dedicated customer service expertise to the forefront of Churchill Wild. Beyond her professional prowess, Chelsea finds solace and inspiration in the great outdoors, and she’s excited to embark on this new chapter with us.

With 10 years of customer service under her belt, Chelsea excels in creating personalized experiences for each guest. Chelsea’s goal is clear — to not only meet but surpass your expectations, ensuring that your journey with Churchill Wild is nothing short of memorable.

Outside the office, Chelsea is a nature enthusiast at heart. Whether it’s sitting around a campsite, splashing in a pool, or having a blast tobogganing with her daughter, nature fuels her spirit. We are very fortunate to have Chelsea as a part of our team. Her diverse skills, infectious enthusiasm, and love for the outdoors enrich the experiences we provide. With Chelsea on board, you can expect a seamless journey marked by exceptional service, genuine care, and a touch of adventure!

Christine Lee, Manager, Blueberry Inn, Churchill

Christine Lee, brings a wealth of life experience and a passion for hospitality to her role as the Blueberry Inn Manager at Churchill Wild. Raised with a deep sense of family values, Christine is the mother of five children. Her dedication to education and community involvement is evident in her 20 years of volunteering within children’s schools, where she played an active role in enhancing educational experiences for young learners.

With a penchant for creativity and organization, Christine served as a backstage manager for the children’s divisional musical theatre, seamlessly coordinating performances that brought joy to both participants and audiences alike. Her commitment to continuous learning is evident in her diverse interests, ranging from outdoor activities such as camping and exploring nature to indulging in the arts through reading and attending theatre productions.

As her children have transitioned into adulthood, Christine has embraced this new chapter as her time for adventure. Leaving behind the confines of the corporate world, she found her calling with Churchill Wild and the Blueberry Inn, where she thrives in providing guests with exceptional service and memorable experiences. With her warm demeanor and passion for hospitality, Christine ensures that every guest at the Blueberry Inn feels at home and welcome.

Helen Webber and Marie Woolsey, Cookbook Authors, Blueberries & Polar Bears

Helen Webber (mother of Churchill Wild co-founder and owner Jeanne Reimer) and her friend Marie Woolsey are the authors of the Blueberries & Polar Bears Cookbook series, which forms the base for Churchill Wild’s culinary delights.

Although the first cookbook in the series was published in 1994, Helen started cooking for guests at Dymond Lake Ecolodge in the early 1970s. She met Marie in Churchill and the dynamic duo began cooking together for guests at North Knife Lake Lodge in the mid 1980s.

The cookbook series was a result of a guest constantly asking Helen and Marie when they were going to write a cookbook, and only the very best guest-tested recipes made it into the Blueberries & Polar Bears cookbook series, which has sold over 100,000 copies.

Helen and Marie pioneered Arctic gourmet cuisine at many northern lodges through their cookbooks, which are now be found in homes, remote camps and luxury northern resort kitchens all over the world. And while they always delivered a first-class dining experience in the middle of nowhere — their skill sets extend far beyond the kitchen.

Both Helen and Marie are unstoppable forces who have carried out an array of tasks including but not limited too driving snowmobiles, unloading and loading airplanes, fending off polar bears, pumping water, refilling generators and driving boats. (Helen also has her private pilot’s license, so let’s add flying airplanes to that list!)

Helen and Marie have done it all — and they did it with limited resources, children underfoot and, sometimes, a long-distance friendship. We owe them a great debt of gratitude for not only their cooking prowess, but for their help with exceptional customer service, which has been passed down through the generations at Churchill Wild.

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 Women of Churchill Wild

The World's Greatest Arctic Safari

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