Ups, downs, and in-betweens

What have we seen, and what can we look forward to, as we mark one year of weirdness

By Jeff Baker

Well, dear reader… we’ve made it. Through it; to it; despite of it. Whatever ‘it’ is, it just feels like a moment when everyone in this world needs some reassurance that things are still progressing; that we’re not stuck in some sort of mobius strip of time and space.

But, boy, doesn’t it feel like we’ve just experienced both a blur of a year and the longest single day ever in the history of the planet?!

March again?! 

It’s early-ish March, yet again, and it was around this time last year when I was sitting down to write my Editor’s Notebook for the spring 2020 issue. It was also when I was still holding a reservation for my flight from Abbotsford to Winnipeg to attend the Dare to Compete conference.

The news was starting to become more urgent as COVID-19 steadily made its presence known right across Canada. I was becoming more concerned about travelling across the country to attend a large gathering, but I thought I’d be careful and just not shake hands or get too close to people who were coughing or sneezing. You know… the usual precautions for influenza season and/or winter.

Then the shutdowns started. Sector by sector, province by province, city by city. We were living with so much uncertainty and so much fear about what might (or might not) lay ahead.

But through the months, we found our way to some semblance of order and safety, and we carried on as best we could. We discovered just how interconnected we all are to people, businesses, and places in every corner of the globe. We also discovered exactly what ‘essential’ meant in terms of employees, services, businesses, and products.

Looking back

Since last March, we’re a year wiser, a year older (maybe more), and a year into what is possibly (and hopefully) the most discomforting existence many of us will ever experience.

However, with all that said, I think there’s another word to describe what’s been uncovered since last spring: resilience.

Over the last year, I’ve had the immense privilege of getting to connect with manufacturing sector leaders and supporters across the Prairies. I’ve had amazing conversations with dozens of people who are living proof of the resilience that exists not only in manufacturing folk, but in Prairie folk generally. I’ve been honoured to be entrusted with their stories and to share their wisdom and opinions with the Prairie Manufacturer readers.

What’s in store

As we head into another phase of this pandemic, thanks to the shining light of hope that is the various vaccines, it’s time to start thinking in a different way; to look beyond the next day or week and into a post-pandemic future that looks closer than ever to ‘normal.’

That’s what we’re trying to do with the spring 2021 issue of Prairie Manufacturer Magazine.

We’re introducing you to some manufacturers and makers across the region who are unleashing their creativity and love for their crafts, making it known that the Prairies have style that’s absolutely on point. From frocks, to pottery, to award-winning handbags and leather goods, you’ll see just how the Prairies are taking off on the runway.

Barb Bowen, Director of Special Projects with Manitoba Aerospace, shares her perspective on the state of the aerospace and aviation industry and the importance of growing the presence of women in this manufacturing and engineering powerhouse sector.

We’re continuing the conversation around the topic of civility and the need to understand and focus on this area as part of the larger improvements we undertake within our businesses and teams. 

We also sat down with Dr. Jason Kindrachuk from the University of Manitoba and VIDO to learn more about the origins of COVID-19, why viruses keep going pandemic around the world, and whether or not we’ll defeat this coronavirus or just have to learn to live with it.

Plus, we speak with NGen: Canada’s Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster to learn about their mandate, their reach across the region, and how manufacturers and supporting organizations can get involved in this amazing effort to take Canadian manufacturing to the next level.

Last, but definitely not least, we’ve also got all the usual suspects back in this issue to keep you informed on areas including employment law and economic updates.

Sixteen Five candles

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t make a special note about another auspicious occasion that happens to coincide with the spring 2021 issue: Prairie Manufacturer Magazine’s fifth anniversary!

It was 2016 when Prairie Manufacturer first hit mailboxes across the region and country with the inaugural issue, but that was only the culmination of months and years of work behind the scenes to develop what has become a premier industry publication.

Since the start, we’ve published 18 issues (19 if you include this one!); printed almost 250 articles and columns from and about manufacturing leaders, companies, and supporters; featured nearly 325 Prairie manufacturers in those stories and distributed more than 150,000 copies across the Prairies and beyond.

On behalf of the entire team here at Prairie Manufacturer Magazine, I offer a most sincere ‘Thank You.’ 

In closing

As we continue to feel our way through what might just be a perfectly mediocre year (and I’ll be thrilled with that!), please feel free to reach out to me at with story ideas, feedback about the issue, or any questions you might have. I always enjoy hearing from our readers. 

For now, I leave you with wishes for a safe and productive spring and summer, remembering that despite any feeling of hopelessness or despair, we are in the homestretch of this pandemic. We are so close. We are going to make it!

Until we chat again, I hope you enjoy the read.