Justin Kacsmar is welcomed to the NVCU team

I am pleased to announce Justin Kacsmar as the newest addition to our lending department. Justin is returning to his hometown of Esterhazy, and is excited to flourish within North Valley Credit Union. Justin joined our team on August 24th, 2020 as a Loans Officer Trainee.

Justin recently graduated with great distinction in April 2020 with a Business Diploma from Saskatchewan Polytechnic specializing in financial services. Justin has also recently completed his Investment Funds in Canada course with honours. He is excited to grow with NVCU through mentorship with the experienced leadership of the long-term staff. He also is looking forward to opportunities for professional development.

Justin is excited to create exceptional experiences with the members of North Valley Credit Union as well as the Esterhazy and area community. We are very happy to have Justin join our team here at NVCU and look forward to the many contributions he will make to our Credit Union.

Feel free to drop by the office and say hi to Justin today!

Chandra Preece

Manager of Lending

North Valley Credit Union

The Royal Canadian Legion is open again for business in Esterhazy

The Royal Canadian Legion is one of those foundational institutions that forms part of the very fabric of many local communities, and it is so in Esterhazy. After the recent disruption it is good to remind people that the Esterhazy branch of the Legion is once again open for business. Here’s something that was submitted to us for publication.


The Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 249 is again open for business

Lounge hours are 1:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. six days a week and closed on Sundays and holidays.

  • Come down and enjoy a game of pool, darts or cribbage all provided free of charge.
  • Come and see our fully stocked cooler with beers from all over the world.

The Legion runs a Bingo every Thursday night with an early bird draw at 7:00 P.M. and the regular Bingo starting at 7:30 P.M.

  • Give your luck a try and have some fun with your friends at a Bingo night out.

Did you know you do not have to be a veteran or even a son or daughter of a veteran to enjoy the advantages of being a Legion member?

Esterhazy is so fortunate to still have a Legion Lounge/Club Room as many Legions have had to close all over Canada due to a lack of support from their communities. Please take advantage of what the Legion has to offer and let’s keep our Legion open and vibrant. Most of all, let’s honour the memory of all those veterans that won our freedom for us by supporting our local Legion.

Update from Esterhazy District Medical Clinic

As things slowly return to a more “familiar look” around the area, EsterhazyOnline reached out to the Esterhazy District Medical Clinic and asked for an update regarding their current operating procedures. This is what we received from them.


“As we move forward during these crazy times, we would like to ask everyone for their patience and for everyone to please abide by our new policies and procedures! We are doing our best to follow guidelines set up by the SHA which in turn will keep everyone (staff included) safe and healthy!

Just a few reminders:

In person apts are being booked but very staggered so we please ask that you come AT your apt time and not earlier. This will help us make sure that we don’t have more than what we are allowed in our waiting room. Also, ALL patients that come in to the clinic need to be screened so please be patient with us when we are asking you the series of questions, again recommended by the SHA. We will call the day before to confirm your apt, as well as screen. If we are not able to get a hold of you, you MUST call back before coming to the clinic so we can complete the screening process! We also ask that if anything changes overnight with your symptoms/history please call the clinic before coming to your apt. Due to the screening process absolutely NO WALK INS are allowed!! You MUST call the clinic first!

The majority of the apts are still being done virtually. Virtual apts are no different than in person apts and sometimes will take longer than expected (depending on each case), so we ask that you be patient! You may not get called exactly at the time you are given but be assured you WILL get a call! If a different time would work better than please request that!

Thank you for your understanding and patience!”

Social Distancing – Guidelines from NVCU

One of the most important ways that we can contain the spread of COVID-19 or any infectious disease for that matter is to engage in social distancing. This means avoiding crowds and avoiding public places wherever possible.

North Valley has an obligation to keep our employees safe from harm as much as possible. As a result we are asking our members, customers and clients to adhere to the following regimen:

  • If you are experiencing any cold or flu symptoms such as running a temperature, having difficulty breathing or having a sore throat do not enter the credit union.
  • If you have travelled outside of Canada over the past two weeks do not enter the credit union unless and until you have undertaken a 14-day self-quarantine program.
  • Only attempt to enter the credit union building if neither of the two points above applies to you and only if it is absolutely necessary.
  • If you are able to conduct your business through the ATM, via e-mail, telephone, or through Member Direct Home Banking please do so. Our staff will be pleased to speak to you over the phone and can provide a significant level of service through this avenue.
  • If you must come into our building to conduct business we are asking that you use the hand sanitizer located at a station just inside the front door. Our staff are authorized to refuse you service if you do not use this hand sanitizer prior to approaching one of our staff members.
  • If you are being served by one of our staff members please maintain a minimum of three feet and preferably six feet between yourself and our employee. We understand that your privacy is paramount and we will, as always, be discreet.
  • Please conduct your business in the shortest time possible before exiting the building.

Our desire is to do our part to ensure the spread of COVID-19 is minimized and we ask that you also do your part. Thank You.

You can reach us at 306-745-6615 or toll free at 1-888-533-6828

A whole community coming together for patients at St. Anthony’s hospital

Amy MacKenzie of North Valley Credit Union, Karen Dlouhy of 501 Audio, Blondena Merritt on behalf of the North Valley Credit Union Board of Directors, and also a member of the Concerned Citizens of Esterhazy Committee presenting a TV and the cheque to Daniella Fiske and Danica Toth of St. Anthony’s hospital.

What started out as one person’s idea ended up in a whole community coming together!

Cable TV has always been free of charge to the patients of St. Anthony’s hospital and one lady in the community wanted to make sure that it would stay that way. Laurie Appel felt that when being a patient in a hospital something you should not have to worry about paying for is cable TV. This member of the community wanted to raise money to help cover the cost of cable in order to keep it free of charge. She created the Concerned Citizens of Esterhazy Committee and there were 50/50 tickets sold through-out the community. Once the North Valley Credit Union heard about this they wanted to get involved in some way.

North Valley Credit Union decided to donate $5,000.00 to the Concerned Citizens of Esterhazy Committee during their NVCU Days of Christmas. Then they had gotten wind that the hospital was also in need of new TV’s as well as some mounting brackets. North Valley Credit Union contacted another local business to see if they would be interested in joining together! North Valley Credit Union and 501 Audio donated 10 TV’s and 4 mounting brackets to St. Anthony’s hospital. The plaques for the TV’s were donated from Big Lou’s Lumber, another local business who heard of what we were doing and also wanted to get involved. The cheque being presented is from North Valley Credit Union to help cover the cost of the cable bills for 2020.

It is amazing to show what great things this community can do together!


Earthquake hits Esterhazy area

It’s not exactly the “run of the mill” news item for the Esterhazy area, and maybe that’s why it’s already getting out there across the internet with amazing speed. From local newspapers, to provincial radio stations, and even US Geological sites, the web is buzzing with the report of an earthquake tonight to the east of Esterhazy.

It was recorded at 8:30 p.m. and had its epicenter around 17km to the east of town. In terms of depth, reports say it was 5km beneath the surface, and had a magnitude of 4.1 on the Richter scale. While it might not be an earth-shattering number, it is an earth shaker to a certain degree. Indeed, some people are already reporting that they felt something. One person said their hotel bed shook, and no doubt other personal anecdotes and experiences will be shared online and offline over the next few days.

It’s not the first minor quake to hit Esterhazy. Global News reported one in 2016, and back then some people wondered if mining operations were connected to it in some way, but experts quickly pointed out that natural tectonic activity is far more likely a culprit in such events. Tremors occur all over the world where there are no mining operations within thousands of kilometers. We live on a dynamic planet, and geological stresses, plate movements, fault lines, and the like do create noticeable and measurable results. Tonight’s event probably falls into those categories.

Reports also show that power outages have been experienced in Esterhazy, Rocanville, and Moosomin. While nobody is making a direct link to the earthquake yet, the timing is pretty convenient or at least co-incidental. It will be interesting to see what the utility companies say as time goes on.

For now, we’re all still learning, still watching. And once more grateful that to this point there are no reports of casualties.

Esterhazy’s Russ Sheppard is the real-life teacher from the movie “The Grizzlies”

A movie had its local premier on Friday night in Esterhazy’s Maple Leaf Theatre. It didn’t attract a full house on that evening, but it was still well-attended, with an audience comprising all ages from schoolkids to seniors. During the movie it was obvious that some people were moved by what they saw, and as the end credits rolled, a man took to the stage.

The house lights came back on, and the man stood before the audience in a relaxed pose. His humble manner reflected the casual attire he wore. You could walk by him in the street and see just an ordinary guy, for that’s what he is. And yet, he’s an ordinary man who became the catalyst for extraordinary change, a man who shows us what a difference any of us can make if we encourage others. He’s the man in the real-life back story to the sensational movie “The Grizzlies.” He is Esterhazy’s own Russ Sheppard.

Russ is humble, and is very quick to lessen his personal role in changing a community, but that’s what he did, albeit indirectly. After graduating as a teacher, Russ found himself in the remote and desolate Inuit town of Kugluktuk, located north of the Arctic Circle in Nunavut. He was there to teach history, there to explore his new career for the first time, and yet it was he who received an education.

Kugluktuk had one of the highest suicide rates in the world, and the young people were demotivated and despairing. While being a whole generation apart from the hideous mistreatment of residential schools, they were still carrying the generational memories and scars passed on by parents who lived that disgusting blot on Canada’s history. After decades of false hopes and broken promises, the sense of hopelessness was pervasive. Russ saw this malaise reflected in his students. They were generally disinterested in education, given to the temptations of drugs and alcohol, and all-too-often ripped apart emotionally by yet another suicide from their own numbers.

The movie portrays this aspect of the story in a way that pulls no punches. It begins with a suicide, and it’s not the last one depicted. It also shows the emotional impact of these tragic events, and adds to the mix the parental abuse, extreme poverty, and starvation sometimes experienced in northern communities that have been forgotten by southern society. It’s not a feel-good movie, it doesn’t even have a fairy-tale ending, and yet it is powerful, emotional, and hauntingly-encouraging.

In real-life, and in the movie, Russ introduced the students to the sport of Lacrosse. It was an uphill battle to begin with, where he fought both student disinterest, and resistance from within the academic administration. He also had to contend with community pressure, as the after-school activity could conflict with the domestic responsibilities some students were expected to undertake. Never-the-less, Russ and his fellow teachers persisted, and the students began to rally to the activities. As more of them became involved, they discovered emotions they hadn’t felt for a long time… genuine fun, purpose, camaraderie, and a sense of hope. The sports activity was drawing these qualities out from within the young people, and Russ became the champion and cheerleader for what these young people were becoming.

Additionally, academic attendance was growing. It was made a condition for playing the sport. Of this Russ says, “When we saw attendance in the school on the rise, we realized as a group that we had some energy and culture change happening. We needed to keep working hard for these kids who were working for themselves. The catalyst was the commitment of the kids to change themselves, and a group of adults who believed that the kids deserved more.”

Eventually, through great perseverance on the part of all concerned, the team (now known as The Grizzlies), went to Toronto and played in the Lacrosse nationals. No, they did not become the champions of the event, but they were already winners, each and every one of them, because of how far they had come. And then the story of the team began to get out in the media, and to cut a long story short, more than a decade later the movie was in the works. It would eventually feature people from Kugluktuk itself, with scenes being filmed on location, and the genuine raw emotions of the actors being captured on film.

There is of course a degree of creative license in the movie, as with all theatrical productions. Having said that, it does accurately represent the essence of the experience. Thankfully, it stays away from the temptation to present Russ as a “white savior”, and does not show sports activity as being the catch-all solution for societal change. Instead it reflects some basic truths that movie-goers would be wise to think about.

1. Russ is an ordinary man who became a catalyst for extraordinary change. Put it another way, Russ did not change anyone, rather he created an environment in which change was encouraged.

2. The sport did not change anyone. It was but a tool within the environment that was being created.

3. The change came from within the students. The environment of encouragement, combined with the use of the tools, led those young people to find the hidden qualities that were already resident within them. As they themselves expressed those qualities, they changed their lives.

As those young people grew into adulthood, they took those changes and brought them back to the community, with some of them now holding responsible positions in local government, and in the education system in the north.

This is the essential message of the movie, as well as the underlying message of the real experience. While the specific locational/historical experience may not be transportable, the essential human experience is.

Russ is not a super hero, he is an example of what anyone can do if they are willing to do it. He found a way to encourage others to find their own greatness within, and if Russ could do it, so can you and I.

Creating an environment for growth does not begin with massive change. It can be as simple as giving an encouraging word, or reaching out a helping hand. And once received, that moment of human kindness can become a spark that leads to a fire, and that fire can set a whole community ablaze with life-changing potential.

This is why the movie is hauntingly powerful. Its message is not about Russ or even the students of Kugluktuk, it’s about all of us, in every community. It is a reminder of the good we can all do, and the greatness we can all express, if we make the decision to do it.

Of the experience, Russ says, “It was a very life changing experience working with some of the kids, and characters I did. And if I could summarize it, things happened the way they were supposed to happen. I was able to learn a lot of good lessons, and create some good relationships and skills through that adventure. It allowed me to understand that the human spirit is a pretty amazing thing, and there’s a whole world out there of perseverance that will allow people to reach a new target and goal.”

The movie will continue to play at Maple Leaf Theatre on June 2nd and 4th at 7:15pm. You can watch the official trailer below. Russ is now a corporate lawyer in Cranbrook, BC, and he still coaches Lacrosse.