August CNIB Manitoba Newsletter


In this issue:

Want more information on CNIB's exciting programs and services than give us your email by calling (204) 774-5421 or email: 

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Staff Profile

Tracy Garbutt has worked at the CNIB Winnipeg office for 20 years as an Independent Living Skills (ILS) Specialist. The inspiration for working for CNIB came from his mother, who was blind. After seeing how CNIB's services helped his mother become independent he was inspired to become an ILS.

Previous to starting his career at CNIB, Tracy worked as a development services worker in group homes, day programs and school setting. When Tracy lost his sight due to Retinitis Pigmentosa, he lost his job at the group home. 

Tracy teaches daily living skills - like pouring, cutting, chopping and the use of kitchen appliances. All of which are possible, it just requires learning to do these things in a new way and conquering the fear of doing them without sight. 

"I want clients to know that at first it can be difficult and very frustrating. I have gone through it. It will get easier but you will still have new challenges to adjust to at the same time," said Tracy.  

Approaching his job with an open attitude he has found that there is a lot to learn from his clients. "We solve problems together, grow and learn. Clients have given me ideas and I then pass on to coworkers and showcase their ideas, that helps me with my own teaching."

What he likes best about his job, is simple. "At the end of the day I love when I see a client smile and laugh, knowing they are on their way to independence, no matter what or how far they may go, but they are starting a new journey."

Client Profile 

John Wilsbech wants others to understand that it is possible to live a full life after you lose your sight, but sometimes the transition requires some support to get there.

"It is necessary to crank people up and re-instill the 'I can' feeling after vision loss. Everyone needs to have the belief that they can contribute to society again," said the 77-year-old Winnipeg resident.

Wilsbech has been leading the Sharing Circle at CNIB for almost four years. On the first Wednesday of every month, clients come together to support each other, and learn new ways to cope with grief and how to make adjustments to live a full life after vision loss.

"The CNIB fills a valuable role through this support group. It may be CNIB's biggest role; restoring people to have faith in themselves after losing their vision." 

Wilsbech lost his sight due to both of his retinas detaching. In 1993, he lost the sight in his right eye. In 1994, the second retina detached but thanks to surgery, a little of his sight remained until 2012 when he became completely blind. 

The transition wasn't easy as his sight loss progressed. When his second retina detached, he could no longer work at his government job as it required him to drive to communities outside of Winnipeg. Because he could no longer drive, he lost his mobility which created a feeling of isolation, loneliness and depression for a period of time. 

"It was a very upsetting time, as I could no longer go for walks to mull over situations in my mind, since I couldn't see where I was going anymore." 

The losses in his lifestyle were many, as the plans he had made for his retirement where no longer possible. Originally, he wanted to fill his time rebuilding old cars which now seemed impossible.

Not one to give up he switched gears and became involved with CNIB; first attending a transition-to-sight-loss program. 

"That group taught me to look at the positive side by focusing on what I could do as opposed to what I lost. Most people think they have lost everything but that isn't true."  

Wilsbech continued his involvement with CNIB through Orientation and Mobility, Technology Training and a yoga classes held in the building. But he didn't stop there. With his incredible attitude in tow his life became full again. He discovered he could still do many things. He installed 17 windows in his home by himself (while legally blind), continued to ballroom dance (a passion since 1946) and lead the Sharing Circle. 

"Losing your sight is not the end of the world. Just get out there as much as you can because it is your attitude not your aptitude that determines your altitude." 

Moving forward he wants people to know that losing his sight gave him a different perspective. "The world is 95 percent visual. And those with sight mostly see what's in front of them forming quick opinions without using their listening or feeling skills. When you lose your sight, you develop a different approach relying on only hearing and interpretation skills." 

"With the great training from CNIB and the support from my wonderful family, my lifestyle is rich and rewarding. I am currently developing colouring books for adults with my oldest daughter. The future again looks rosy." 

Client/Staff Advice 

Vision Loss can be a very scary place to find yourself. It can feel like your life is over. That you are going to be sitting in a rocking chair listening to the radio for the rest of your days. The fear you feel is real. The grief you feel is real. I am not here to discount those feelings because they are true and warranted and you will need to work through them. I know, I was there when I lost the remainder of my sight four and half years ago. However, don't go purchase a rocking chair just yet, there is light at the end of the tunnel. 

When you experience vision loss, whether it is sudden or gradual, you will go through a grief process just as if you lost a loved one. That grief process can be different for every person. The experience has its ups and downs. 

People who have sight loss have triple the risk for depression as their sighted peers. If you feel like you just can't see the light at the end of that tunnel, CNIB can help with programs like peer support. Doing it alone can seem very daunting but when you are supported everything feels more manageable. 

When you lose your sight it can be scary, not knowing how to accomplish the tasks you once did, but there are skills that you can learn to be successful. CNIB can also help you with this. You will be able to cook, clean, work, have fun, be active and live a full and amazing life it just requires learning a new way to do these things. 

You do not have to wait until you are "totally blind" to ask for help either, there are devices like magnifiers and skills that can be learned to maximize the vision that you still have which can make all those daily tasks a lot less frustrating. 

During the process of accepting your vision loss, the emotions you will feel are extensive and can range from to I can do this to anger, guilt, feeling sorry for yourself, why me, and complete frustration. These are all normal feelings. It helps to acknowledge all of your feelings and seek out help in dealing with this change in your life. If you do, you will be able to take your life back and decide how you want to live it. 

By Ashley Nemeth Client and Program Lead, Community Engagement

CNIB Saskatchewan Division

Vision Loss Rehabilitation Manitoba

CNIB has a new brand, Vision Loss Rehabilitation Manitoba, for our rehabilitation services. With a commitment to the highest standards of care, we help to enhance independence, safety and mobility for Canadians with vision loss.  While this new brand is an important change, what won't change is our services themselves, and how we provide them. For more information, visit

CNIB Centenary 

CNIB is celebrating 100 years. Stay tuned for the Winnipeg CNIB celebration event details in the next newsletter.

Information Lines

Both the Winnipeg and Brandon offices now have information lines where clients can call to get information about news, events, programs and services. In Winnipeg call: (204) 789-0961 and in Brandon call: (204) 727-0631 and ask for extension 6588.

Summer Outings and Trio Bike

CNIB Winnipeg celebrated the start of summer with the first summer outing of 2017! On June 21, participants enjoyed a narrated tour of the Journey to Churchill exhibit at Assiniboine Park Zoo. 

Afterwards, participants were given the opportunity to try our exciting new Trio Bike! The bike features a spacious and comfortable carriage that can accommodate two passengers. Volunteer bike pilots are fully trained to ensure optimal safety for maximum fun. 

For more information about the Trio Bike or to book a ride, please contact Liz Cox at phone: (204) 789-0960 or email:

Upcoming CNIB Conferences, Events and Fundraisers

CNIB's National AGM will be taking place in Winnipeg on Saturday, September 9, 2017 at the Hotel Fort Garry. Clients are welcome to attend. For more information please contact Debby Cuninghame at (204) 789-0951 or

Winnipeg is holding its fifth Dine in the Dark event on Thursday, September 14 at the RBC Convention Centre. The evening starts at 5:30 p.m. with the reception then supper and the program to follow at 6:30 p.m.. For ticket or sponsorship information contact Glenda Gascoigne at (204) 789-0947 or email​

Winnipeg is holding a CNIB Manitoba Youth Council Panel Presentation for Parents of children under 18 on August 28,2017 from 7:00 p.m. -  8:30 p.m. at CNIB, 1080 Portage Avenue, Boardroom/Multipurpose Room. The topic is "What my parents did well & what I wish they had known". For more information contact Ann Harry at (204) 789-0944. 

Winnipeg is holding a CNIB Manitoba Youth Council Panel presentation to parents and students from ages 14 – 21 on September 25, 2017 from 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. at CNIB, 1080 Portage Avenue, Boardroom/Multipurpose Room. "Getting to and beyond Graduation. . ." Members of the Youth council want an opportunity to talk to parents and students about what it was like for them to be a part of the Individual Education Plan process as they were preparing for life following graduation. Please join us as they share their wisdom and experience, light refreshments will be served. Contact Kayla at 204-774-5421 or Ann at 204-789-0944 the Winnipeg office to confirm attendance by September 20th. 

Winnipeg Leadership Education Advocacy Development & Support (LEADS) Workshop for participants ages 16 – 21 on Leadership Styles. The date of this workshop is TBA and will be locates at CNIB, 1080 Portage Avenue, Boardroom/Multipurpose Room. For more information phone: (204) 789-094 or email: ​or call or call our Winnipeg Infoline (204)789-0961.

Community Conferences and Events

HSC Wellness Fair 2017 on Thursday, October 19, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Health Sciences Centre at the University of Manitoba located at 700 William Avenue. For more information on how to attend or to arrange a booth contact Leigh-Ann Patrick at phone: (204) 787-8786 or email:

Transcona Health Fair on Thursday, October 5, 2017 from 9:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m. at Kildonan Place located at 1555 Regent Avenue West in Winnipeg. For more information on how to attend or to arrange a booth contact Colleen Trackaberry at phone: (204) 222-5774 or email:

The Alliance for an Inclusive and Accessible Canada is proud to be hosting "What Should Canada's Promised National Accessibility Law Include? Cutting-edge Ideas from Experts from Around the World". The event will be lived streamed on August 22nd, 2017 from the Ontario College of Arts and Design in Toronto, ON from 10:00 am-1:00pm ET. Watch the live stream on The Alliance for an Inclusive and Accessible Canada's YouTube channel which can be found at

Manitoba Programs 

For information on all Brandon and Winnipeg adult groups and programs contact Joanne Fabian at phone: (204) 789-0954 or email:​ unless otherwise stated.

For information on all Winnipeg child or youth groups and programs contact Ann Harry at phone: (204) 789-0944 or email:​

CNIB Manitoba Support Groups and Support Programs

Adjusting to Vision Loss

The purpose of this program is to provide adults who are blind and partially sighted support during their adjustment to vision loss.; improve their knowledge about eye conditions, living with vision loss and of CNIB and community supports and services.

Winnipeg location: CNIB, 1080 Portage Avenue, Second Floor Boardroom

When: On Tuesdays beginning on October 17 for six weeks

Time: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

**Registration is mandatory for this class please call Joanne at (204) 789-0954 to do so.

Beyond the Classroom

This program will ensure blind and partially sighted children (8 – 12) have access to a variety of social, educational and experiential learning opportunities with their peers. Once a Month Alternating between Winnipeg and Brandon. 

Brandon location: CNIB, 354 10th Street, Boardroom/Multipurpose Room 

When: August 19, October TBA, December 9

Time: 1:30 p.m. -  3:30 p.m. 

Winnipeg location: CNIB, 1080 Portage Avenue, Boardroom/Multipurpose Room 

When: September 23, 2017, November 25 

Time: 1:00 p.m. -  3:00 p.m. 

Sharing Circle 

This group is for adults. Join in and share your experiences with vision loss and learn about community resources.  There will be a different guest presenter each month (check the info line).

Brandon location: CNIB, 354 Tenth Street  

When: The last Tuesday of every month, starting on September 26.

Time: 1:00-2:30 p.m.

To Register: Please call Ruth at (204) 727-0631

Winnipeg location: CNIB, 1080 Portage Ave, Second Floor Boardroom  

When: First Wednesday of each month ongoing. 

Time: 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Youth Council (Teleconferencing opportunities for those outside of Winnipeg are available)

This program is designed to provide youth who are blind or partially sighted opportunities to develop leadership, advocacy, and compensatory skills in a social setting with the goal of building self-esteem, confidence, social and community engagement, and self-efficacy (empowerment).

Winnipeg location: CNIB, 1080 Portage Avenue, Boardroom/Multipurpose Room 

When: Monthly meetings on August 14, September 11, October 2, November 6

Time: 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Monthly youth council activities and outings will be planned. for more information call Ann Harry. 

The youth council has scheduled a number of hosted events which are listed here. 

CNIB Manitoba Sports and Recreation Programs

Bible Study: Share your thoughts in this discussion group. 

Winnipeg location: CNIB, 1080 Portage Ave, Multipurpose Room

When: Thursday's ongoing

Time: 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.

Book Club: If you love to read, this is for you! A new book each month. Each participant will be registered for library services.

Winnipeg location:  CNIB, 1080 Portage Ave, Multipurpose Room 

When: The second Tuesday of each month

Time: 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.

Friday Coffee Group: The group is lively, friendly and the coffee is always on. 

Winnipeg location: CNIB, 1080 Portage Ave, Multipurpose Room

When: Fridays ongoing

Time: 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. 

Fibre Arts Knit and Crochet: With help you can knit or crochet again - or learn how!

Winnipeg location:  CNIB, 1080 Portage Ave, Multipurpose Room

When: Every Wednesday

Time: 9:30- 11:00 a.m.

Pottery: Create something beautiful. No previous experience needed. Contact Joanne at CNIB to register (number above). Registration is confirmed with receipt of payment. 

Winnipeg location: Fort Garry, 969 Dowker Ave

When: For ten weeks, every Wednesday starting September 13 to November 15. Registration starts August 8, check the information line. 

Time: 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Cost: $115 cash only due September 6.

Walking Group: A chance to exercise and practice your mobility and travel skills.

Winnipeg location: spring-summer Meet at CNIB, 1080 Portage Ave: fall and winter Polo Park Shopping Center

When: Monday's ongoing

Time: 10:00- 11:00 a.m.

Yoga: Improves core strength, flexibility, balance and coordination while providing relaxation techniques and increased self-confidence. Program provide by Manitoba Blind Sports Association in partnership with CNIB. Membership fees will apply. Contact Cathy for more info or to register 204-925-5694.

Winnipeg location:  CNIB, 1080 Portage Ave, Multipurpose Room 

When: Every Tuesday and Thursday

Time: 10:00- 11:00 a.m.

For ongoing information on CNIB's recreational programs in Manitoba go to

Community Associations, Groups, Sports and Recreation Programs

Manitoba Blind Sports Association has a number of activities that people who are blind or partially sighted can participate in like dragon boating, yoga, archery, goalball, swimming and curling. A membership is required to participate. For more information call: (204) 925-5694 or email:​ or check out their website at

VIRN has a number of activities and classes. people who are blind or partially sighted can participate in like paddling, cycling, Tech-Ease, computer lab training, and their AGM .  Activities start up again in September. For more information call: (204) 975-9341 or email: or check out their website at

Volunteer Opportunities

Do you want to help us change what it is to be blind today? Our volunteers are what make this organization thrive. 

We are currently looking for volunteers for the following:

Winnipeg Volunteer Opportunities:

  • ​Volunteers to provide support for receptionist/admin support. A six-month commitment is required. Days available – Thursdays and Fridays from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. For further details contact:  email:​ or phone: (204) 789-0951.
  • Client work placement volunteer for the CNIB Shop. One day a week from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For further details email: or phone: (204) 774-5421.
  • Trio Bike Pilot. Must be physically fit. Shifts available days, evenings and weekends. Volunteers are able to create their schedule based on their availability. For further details email:​ or phone: (204) 789-0960

Brandon Volunteer Opportunities: 

  • ​Leisure Mate. To provide encouraging support for a person who is blind or partially sighted through a regular walking routine. Positions are available days, evenings and weekends. For further information email: or phone: (204) 789-0954

Thank you to our partner: 

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