Regina DaSilva-Gibbons: Making a Difference Today

Regina DaSilva-Gibbons, the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Thompson, thinks she might have gravitated toward “people-intensive” work because at one point in her life she felt helpless.

She recalls a childhood punctuated by frequent trips to the psych ward to visit her struggling father, who battled schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. He ultimately took his own life when DaSilva-Gibbons was only seven.

“I was too young at the time to fully understand,” says DaSilva-Gibbons, who grew up in Winnipeg’s Weston neighbourhood. “I came to realize and understand over the years that he wasn’t weak, he was sick.”

DaSilva-Gibbons, now 49, remembers with fondness and gratitude the teachers who helped her cope with her feelings of grief and confusion. “The suicide happened when I was in grade two. My grade one teacher saw me sitting on the steps one day and I have a vivid memory of telling her that my dad had killed himself. She stayed connected and checked up on me for years after that,” says DaSilva-Gibbons. “There were others, too. I always had someone to talk to.”

Today, DaSilva-Gibbons returns the favour in her job. At the Boys and Girls Club of Thompson she sees kids in distress all the time. She tries to be a source of comfort to kids whose pain seems all too familiar to her.

Her personal story gives her credibility in the eyes of the youth she serves. She doesn’t just sympathize, she can truly empathize.

“Mental health issues run rampant in my family, and it wasn’t just about suicide,” says DaSilva-Gibbons, who takes anti-depressants to manage her own condition. “I know what it is like to grow up without expectations. I know what it’s like to be abused. I know what it’s like to be poor. The older kids here know that I feel their pain at a deep and authentic level. They know that I’ve been there, done that, and have come to terms with the horrible parts of my youth.”

What drives DaSilva-Gibbons today is her desire to help the kids of her adopted community in Thompson to deal with the strife in their lives.

“A lot of these kids don’t have it so good at home,” she says. “The Boys and Girls Club aims to provide a stable, compassionate environment with nutritious food, programs, and life skills training. We give these kids first chances, second chances, and third chances. We try to give them hope.”

The Boys and Girls Club of Thompson serves about 500 different children a year through after-school, weekend, and summer programs. On busier days, DaSilva-Gibbons and her colleagues might see 100 different kids.

The population they serve is mostly aboriginal, says DaSilva-Gibbons. “The community is still living with the consequences of the Sixties Scoop and the residential school system,” she says. “Some of these kids don’t feel like they have a heritage to hold on to. The community was decimated. The kids don’t feel fully aboriginal, and they don’t know how to fit into the rest of Canada. It’s challenging for them.”

DaSilva-Gibbons moved to Thompson in 2014 when her husband accepted a position at a mining company after they had previously lived in Beausejour and Winnipeg. DaSilva-Gibbons eagerly accepted the position at the Boys and Girls Club after the move north. She had worked as a waitress in her younger years and then worked with an agency helping adults with developmental disabilities to find employment. Through it all, she earned a psychology degree from the University of Winnipeg and is working on attaining her human resources credentials through Red River College.

The job in Thompson is stressful, she says, but she works with a small staff she trusts and admires. “We see a lot of sadness and despair,” says DaSilva-Gibbons. “But there are many ‘miracle moments’ that make it all worthwhile.”

And so, Regina DaSilva-Gibbons has traded the helplessness of her own childhood to a position where she can help children today find hopefulness: “This is very important work and we have to do it well. It is necessary for the kids, and it is necessary for the community.”

To learn more about the Boys and Girls Club of Thompson, visit

Building the Next Generation of Non-Profit Leaders

The Manitoba Federation of Non-Profit Organizations is eager to answer those questions by inspiring youth and young adults to pursue careers in the non-profit sector. A first step in achieving this important objective is the launch of the Career Explorations website.

“The site will be an important way to engage youth, new graduates, and young professionals,” says Meaghan Morrish, the MFNPO Project Manager leading the development of the site. “We want them to see that they can orient their careers in a way that will make a difference in the community, while challenging themselves to grow professionally in a thriving sector.”

At MFNPO’s November 25 annual general meeting, attendees got a sneak peek at the website. The site will be formally launched by spring 2017 with a special in-person event and strategic social media announcements.

“We realize as a sector council that we need to promote the many merits of working in the sector,” says MFNPO Co-Chair Martin Itzkow. “Our sector is continually changing and there are always new and creative ways for people to build meaningful careers. Career Explorations will be the leading source of current information for youth and young adults in Manitoba.”

Morrish, who has been working on the site for about a year, says the site will expose users to the vast array of career opportunities in the field. To develop the content, she has relied on MFNPO’s rich bank of labour market research, meetings with non-profit organization leaders, and interviews with people who work in the sector. She then started to develop stories about people who work in the sector and descriptions of the work they do.

“We are trying to publish stories that will truly resonate and inspire,” says Morrish, who has worked as a professional and volunteer in the non-profit sector. “We will be highlighting interesting programs and organizations and making it clear that a career in the non-profit sector can be rewarding, fulfilling, and exciting.”

For MFNPO, the Career Explorations project has the potential to strengthen the sector as a whole. “By sharing information about careers in the sector and by emphasizing the many opportunities that exist for young people, we will ultimately support our sector’s recruitment and retention efforts,” says Itzkow.

For Morrish, it will be important to measure success. “We will measure web traffic, of course,” she says. “But our most important indicators of success will be seeing more youth showing interest in careers in the sector and more organizations finding the people they need to serve their clients. In other words, Career Explorations will be successful if it can contribute to building a more resilient sector in Manitoba.”

The Career Explorations project is funded by Manitoba Education and Training (Industry Services; Workforce Development and Income Support; and Jobs and the Economy).

MFNPO: The Voice of the Sector

People who don’t work or volunteer in our sector are often amazed to hear the numbers. Even people who DOwork or volunteer in the sector are often taken aback. There are roughly 8,000 non-profit organizations in Manitoba collectively employing about 100,000 people. It’s a significant proportion of the province’s workforce.

“As a sector council for Manitoba’s non-profits, our key objectives are to strengthen the sector, ensure its long-term effectiveness, and enhance how it is perceived by government, other sectors, and the population at large,” says Sandra Oakley, Co-Chair of the Manitoba Federation of Non-Profit Organizations (MFNPO). “We aim to be the sector’s voice.”

MFNPO’s roots go back to 1998 when current MFNPO Co-Chair Martin Itzkow initiated a process to enhance the visibility of the non-profit sector in Manitoba. This led to the launch in 2000 of the Manitoba Voluntary Sector Initiative (MVSI). Under the MVSI, Itzkow was the founding director of the Secretariat on Voluntary Sector Sustainability. In 2004, the sector came to be represented by a new body called the Voluntary and Nonprofit Sector Organization of Manitoba, which became MFNPO in 2009 when it was declared a sector council through a government Order in Council.

Today, MFNPO focuses its efforts on a few key areas.

“One of the most important functions we perform is labour market research,” says Oakley. “The provincial government has turned to us over the years for labour market information. No other body in Manitoba has the data or insight that MFNPO has.”

Oakley notes that one of the key benefits of gathering, assessing, and reporting data is that the effort can move the sector toward greater standardization and consistency.

“As we learn more about the sector and how people are employed within it, we can promote and see movement toward standardization of job titles, job descriptions, pay ranges, credentials, etc.,” says Oakley. “This is important so people can plan for and make lateral and upward moves in the sector. We want to create the conditions for talented and passionate people to have meaningful, long-term careers in the sector.”

Another important function of MFNPO is to provide reasonably priced and practical human resources training for people working the sector.

“We know that it is luxurious for most small and medium-sized non-profits to have a human resources leader on staff, and yet it is a critical function,” says Oakley. “Typically, HR issues are handled by the executive director off the edge of the desk. Our programs help executive directors and other leaders manage HR as effectively as possible.”

The demand for this work is evident. For 2016-2017, MFNPO has been offering a six-part course called “Fundamentals of Human Resources” in three locations. The Winnipeg and Brandon courses sold out quickly. Registration for Thompson is still underway at time of writing. Additionally, MFNPO’s Human Resources and Leadership HUB is on its third cycle, providing a small group of non-profit leaders with intensive training.

Other exciting initiatives under development include the Career Explorations website, launching in 2017 and designed to position the sector as an exciting and meaningful career choice for youth and young adults; and MFNPO’s ongoing pilot of Open Badges as a way to promote innovative and exciting professional development pathways in the sector.

On top of all the work to develop the sector, MFNPO also advocates on the sector’s behalf and takes part in national conversations about the sector’s value to society.

MFNPO employs an Executive Director and an Administrative Coordinator, and engages a handful of external contractors. As a member of the Alliance of Manitoba Sector Councils, MFNPO shares some additional services with the other sector councils located at 1000 Waverley Street. MFNPO is funded by the Government of Manitoba and operates on a budget of about $220,000. A very active Board drives MFNPO’s agenda.

“This is a passionate and dynamic sector,” adds Oakley. “We have seen growing interest in our work and our mission and we are communicating more and innovating to meet the sector’s appetite for knowledge, training, and growth.”

Open Badges Workshops

PILOT PROJECT: Exploring a New Way of Learning
October 18 & November 1, 2016

Register Now


Lead as You Learn Like Never Before

Join us in a special pilot project to take professional development into the next generation. Become part of a dynamic group of current and future non-profit leaders who will explore how Open Badge eCredentials can help make learning more accessible and useful for Manitoba’s non-profits.

In addition to helping your sector, you’ll gain valuable insights about skills frameworks, developing leadership capabilities and other helpful resources that you can bring back to your organization.

Why is MFNPO piloting Open Badge eCredentials?

Our mission as Manitoba’s non-profit sector organization is to create professional development pathways that will deliver the skills needed in the sector at large. The Open Badge eCredentials initiative is a new, leading-edge, and vital tool to help us fulfill that mission.

Open Badges recognize skills learned and nurtured outside of the conventional classroom. Based on a common digital standard, they can be shared over networks and social media like LinkedIn. They can help individuals build their careers and employers find the skills they need. (Find out more at

Through this initiative, MFNPO will change the way our sector looks at professional development. The initiative can keep our sector nimble and robust as we adapt to the continuously changing world of work by promoting and recognizing all forms of learning.

As the sector council for non-profit organizations in Manitoba, it is our duty to lead, explore, and innovate. Please join us!

Find out more at or the Scottish Social Services Council


Don Presant of Learning Agents is a leading Canadian expert in Open Badge eCredentials.


October 18, 2016: 8:30AM-11:30AM
November 1, 2016: 8:30AM-11:30AM



Manitoba Federation of Non-Profit Organizations
1000 Waverley Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 0P3
[Driving Directions]



No charge.



Click here to register or call (204) 272-6088. Registration deadline is October 10, 2016.



Annual General Meeting

The Manitoba Federation of Non-Profit Organization will be holding their Annual General Meeting on November 25th, 2016 in the Golden Boy Room in the Manitoba Legislative Building from 11:00 – 1:30 p.m.  A Notice will be sent out to the Sector through Constant Contact and registration to attend will be required.

Kelly Holmes: Right people, right places, right time, right options

For Kelly Holmes, Executive Director of Resource Assistance for Youth (RaY), success is about bringing together “the right people, in the right places, at the right time, with the right options.”

Thanks to the right people in her life, she says, she chose a positive path. She credits the strong role models she had – the mentors and coaches who believed in her – for helping her find her feet…literally.

“In grade 8, I was caught smoking a joint in the bathroom at Gordon Bell,” recalls Holmes. “One of the school’s athletic coaches caught me in the act and I just booked it. I ran out of the bathroom and down the hall as fast as I could. The coach had some choices about what to do and eventually said, ‘If she can run that fast, I want her on the track team.’ And that’s where it all started.”

Track led to basketball, volleyball, and swimming. “Sports deterred me from making some bad choices,” she says. “More important, sports taught me about hard work, team, commitment, loyalty, adaptation, and more. These are the values I learned from my coaches, and these are the values that my staff and I share with the youth who come to see us at RaY. My coaches redirected me and gave me options. That’s what I try to do in my work.”

Through a leadership course at Gordon Bell High School, Holmes earned her Bronze Medallion at Sherbrook Pool which gave her the credentials to work as a lifeguard at neighbourhood wading pools for three summers, until she was 18.

Working at the pools – not to mention growing up with a bunch of brothers – taught her how to handle kids making bad decisions. Her ability to communicate with kids and redirect them was noticed pretty quickly by people in the community. Not only was she asked to take on wading pool assignments in tougher neighbourhoods, she was invited by community agencies to come on board as a casual worker doing street outreach and other community work in the inner-city. She dove right in, even while starting to attend university in pursuit of a degree in recreation studies.

“I had planned a conventional career path, but all of these interesting and rewarding opportunities started to come my way and I started to rethink my plan,” says Holmes. “I was starting to get this well-rounded exposure to issues facing youth-at-risk.”

She hasn’t had a CV in 25 years, but if she did, it would show stops at West Central Community Program, Children’s Home, Northwest Child and Family Services, Macdonald Youth Services, among other agencies working with marginalized youth and adult populations throughout Manitoba. By 2002, she had taken a full-time position at the Winnipeg offices of Operation Go Home (OGH), a national body working to repatriate runaways with their families. When she started at OGH, they were working with 80 kids a year in the city – a number that quickly started to decline.

“A lot of the kids were starting to tell us that they didn’t want to go home, that they felt safer on the street,” she says. “It was pretty clear that we needed to rebrand and re-organize.”

So, OGH merged with Powerhouse, an agency that was working with Osborne Village’s squeegee kids. Together, the two bodies formed RaY with Holmes at the helm.

RaY is an oasis for about 100 teens and young adults every day. They come in search of a hot meal, a shower, counselling, access to a computer, advice on housing and employment, health services, and simply a place to be heard and feel safe. They are treated without judgment and they are supported to the extent that resources allow. All RaY asks for in return is respectful behaviour.

“Some of our kids go missing. Some die. There is sadness in this place, but there is hope, too,” says Holmes. “There are many success stories of people who turned themselves around completely. We’ve got two people on staff here who used to be street kids using drugs.”

Holmes describes her work as “managing chaos” in the pursuit of social justice. She has a profound appreciation for the many leaders in the non-profit social services sector who soldier alongside her. She is frustrated by the layers of bureaucracy and the red tape she needs to navigate. And while she is deeply grateful for the significant generosity of Winnipeggers, she wishes she could spend a little less time securing funding. All of these things “fuel my fire,” she says.

Even after working with troubled youth in some way for over 30 years, Kelly Holmes is still passionate about the work and still up for the challenge. On more difficult or sadder days, she might recharge her batteries by tending her garden, belting out a few rock ’n’ roll tunes with her husband and their friends, or disappearing into a good book. And then she returns to RaY – the right place for so many youth in Winnipeg. A new day, a new opportunity to be that right person. Fiery. Determined. Empathetic. And hopeful.

“Without hope I am nothing,” she says.

Learn more about Resource Assistance for Youth at

MFNPO Offers Training Program for Human Resources Management

Format and fee designed to meet the needs of Manitoba’s non-profit sector

“Many smaller non-profit organizations struggle when it comes to human resources management and planning,” says Janice Goldsborough, a Certified Human Resources Professional with the Manitoba Federation of Non-Profit Organizations. “They often don’t have the resources in place to hire designated HR staff.”
MFNPO’s newest training program – Fundamentals of Human Resources – is designed to address the challenge by building the capacity of Executive Directors and other senior staff to manage HR issues with greater clarity and confidence. The program is based on materials originally produced by the HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector, work that is now housed within Community Foundations of Canada[SS1]. The Manitoba Federation of Non-Profit Organizations and Community Foundations of Canada are collaborating as partners in this new initiative in Manitoba.

The program is divided into six modules, each a half-day long. The Winnipeg modules will be delivered between October 2016 and February 2017. Dates for the program in Brandon and Thompson will be announced in the coming weeks.

The whole course costs only $300 per person and the registration deadline for the Winnipeg program is September 23. Registration will be capped at 20 participants.

“We wanted to keep the class size small to optimize the learning experience,” says Goldsborough, who will be leading sessions along with Courtney Marchant, Program Manager and Facilitator of the Executive HR and Leadership HUB, MFNPO’s flagship training program. “Participants will have the opportunity to share real-life HR scenarios in a safe and confidential environment. Together, we can discuss solutions and options on issues having to do with wages, discipline, planning, and more. And because participants come exclusively from the non-profit sector, there will be a real sense of empathy and camaraderie in the room. We will create a high-energy environment grounded in information, and inspired by the needs of the specific participants.”

The modules address the following topics: recruitment; managing people and their work; healthy workplaces; training and development; HR planning; and employment legislation.

“In my experience working with non-profits, I have learned that organizations sometimes wrestle with employment law,” says Goldsborough. “Knowing what you can and cannot do allows managers to lead more effectively. We will help clarify the basics of the relevant legislation in Manitoba. And we will help people understand where to find the information they need on an ongoing basis.”

There will be assignments after each session, notes Goldsborough, and participants will be expected to contribute to discussions. “This is active learning,” she says. “We will be accepting participants based on their willingness to give fully of themselves for the benefit of everyone in the program.”

Click here for details about the Fundamentals of Human Resources program and for registration information.

Registration deadline is September 23, 2016. Only 20 spots are available.

Canada Manitoba Job Grant Application

Canada-Manitoba Job Grant

The Canada-Manitoba Job Grant is an employer-driven approach to help Manitobans gain the skills they need to fill available jobs and to help employers develop the skills of their existing workers to meet the requirements of their present job, or to move into a better job.

Eligible employers may apply for up to $10,000 for each individual worker to assist with training costs. Employers that receive funding under the Canada-Manitoba Job Grant must contribute a minimum of one-third of the eligible training costs. With the maximum government contribution of $10,000, this means that up to $15,000 is available, per person, for eligible training costs.

Canada-Manitoba Job Grant – Employer Fact Sheet pdf document (76KB)


Manitoba is currently only accepting applications for the 2016/17 fiscal year which begins April 1, 2016. The grant is 100% allocated for the current fiscal year ending March 31, 2016.

Train the Trainer in Brandon

MFNPO is inviting you to attend Skills Development workshop “Train the Trainer for the Non-Profit Sector” in Brandon March 23 & 24.

Non-profit organizations’ employees perform many different training functions. In this workshop, participants will explore effective training methodologies for the workplace. This two-day workshop is of benefit to both those with training experience, as well as for employees who are new to training.

Why You Should Attend:

Learn the basics of adult learning theory as well as our own facilitation model.
Gain or enhance a foundation in conducting a needs assessment, developing learning objectives, and developing lesson plans.
Learn and apply effective training techniques such as debriefing, experiential learning, working with different learning styles and generational groups, fostering a safe learning environment, managing challenging situations, as well as understanding and applying the differences between teaching and facilitating.
Discover what it means to be a transformational, collaborative trainer.
Receive a practical training kit.

Date: March 23 & 24, 2016

Time: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm (Registration & breakfast at 8:30 am)

Location: Keystone Centre (#1 1175 18th Street, Brandon, MB R7A 7C5)

Registration Fee: $150 (include materials, coffee breaks & lunch)

Click here to get more information and to register.

Train the Trainer for the Non-Profit Sector in Selkirk January 12 & 13

Non-profit organization employees perform many different training functions. In this workshop, participants will explore effective training methodologies for the workplace. This two day workshop is of benefit to both those with training experience, as well as for employees who are new to training.

Why You Should Attend:

Learn the basics of adult learning theory as well as our own facilitation model.
Gain or enhance a foundation in conducting a needs assessment, developing learning objectives, and lesson plans.
Learn and apply effective training techniques such as debriefing, experiential learning, working with different learning styles and generational groups, fostering a safe learning environment, managing challenging situations, as well as understanding and applying the differences between teaching and facilitating.
Discover what it means to be a transformational, collaborative trainer.
Receive a practical training kit.
This two day workshop is of benefit to both those with training experience, as well as for employees who are new to training.

Date: January 12 & 13, 2016

Time: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm (Registration & breakfast at 8:30 am)

Location: Selkirk Inn & Conference Centre (162 Main St, Selkirk, MB R1A 1R3)

Registration Fee: $150 (include materials, coffee breaks & lunch)

Click here to Register