When Lois (Bunny) Burke was 12, her father recruited her to volunteer with recreation programs in Channing.
She’s been helping make Flin Flon and area a better place to live ever since.
So it came as little surprise over the weekend when Burke, one of the community’s busiest volunteers, earned a spot on the Flin Flon Station Museum’s Wall of Honour.
“It’s very humbling when people acknowledge you like this,” said Burke, whose portrait will hang alongside other community advocates and pioneers at the museum. “I feel honoured.”
Over the decades, Burke has been a part of more than 20 volunteer groups and initiatives encompassing a broad range of mandates.
She helped run the Trout Festival and Girl Guides. She’s active with the Flin Flon Station Museum, Flin Flon Public Library, Royal Canadian Legion, Flin Flon and District Chamber of Commerce, and St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Church.
Among others, Burke also sits on the boards of the Vocational Training Centre, Flin Flon Neighbourhood Revitalization Corp., Tourism North and A Port in the Storm, which offers affordable accommodations to rural and northern medical patients staying in Winnipeg.
Of all of her volunteer endeavours, Burke most relished her
35 years with the now-defunct local branch of the Sea and Navy League cadets.
“I enjoyed the kids,” she said. “That’s what I miss the most.”
Praise for Burke poured in as she was declared this year’s Wall of Honour inductee at the museum’s Flinty’s Birthday celebrations on Sunday.
“It was pretty hard not to work with Bunny,” said Doug O’Brien, himself an accomplished volunteer who has joined Burke on various initiatives.
O’Brien said Burke’s “constant pushing and shoving – in a nice way” gets things done.
“The citizens of Flin Flon should be very proud of the work Bunny has done for the museum and the city of Flin Flon,” added Ron Dodds, past chairperson of the museum.
Coun. Ken Pawlachuk, representing the City of Flin Flon, agreed that Burke’s induction is well deserved.
“She’s not sitting there” at community events, Pawlachuk said, “she’s the one doing the work.”
As grateful as she is to receive them, accolades are not Burke’s incentive for being so involved.
“I don’t volunteer for recognition, I volunteer because I like to be busy, I like to give back to my community,” she said. “Flin Flon has been really good to us, so why not?”
Burke first learned the rewards of giving back as an adolescent and teenager growing up in Channing.
Her father, Jim Wilson, was heavily involved with the subdivision’s ratepayers’ association.
Through him, Burke would help flood and maintain the Channing hockey rink and organize sports events.
“I played hockey with the boys because there weren’t enough boys to make two teams,” she recalled.
Burke’s contributions to Flin Flon and area are not limited to volunteering, as she is also the long-time general manager of Community Futures Greenstone, a regional economic development agency.
Burke, who helped select past Wall of Honour honourees, did not initially want to become an inductee herself.
But after some convincing from other museum volunteers, she graciously agreed to accept the tribute.
Lois (Bunny) Burke joins a growing list of distinguished past and present area residents on the Wall of Honour, which also includes:
Dr. Frank H. Gunston; Alex and Eva Krassilowsky; Art Dodds; Dr. Krishan Sethi; Del Baird; Lew Parres; Joseph Brain; Red McIntosh and family; Mary (Ma) Crerar; Dr. Percy Johnson; Doug O’Brien; Eileen Munroe; Lorna Rogan; F. L. (Bud) Jobin; Gordon Mitchell; Graham Craig; Ron Dodds; and Catherine Hynes.
Located in the
middle wing of the museum, the Wall of Honour was established to recognize Flin Flon area citizens for outstanding professional and/or personal contributions to the community.