“In 2013, I met Cheryl whom I would marry in 2015. Cheryl had two children, Ethan and Ariana. In 2014, Cheryl was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 38. She was pregnant with my third child, Kennedy. All of the chemo and radiation, surgeries and stress made for an awful battle. My mom would come and stay with us from Portage to help. Dad had passed away in the spring of 2013, so Mom liked being around us. Kennedy was born healthy in September 2014. Mom was constantly back and forth from Portage to Winnipeg as our household got that much busier. In April 2015, Cheryl was considered cancer free.
“We were ready for a fresh start in a new home and new town. I pitched her the idea of moving to Portage. She had become best friends with my mom the year she was sick and the thought of being closer to her and the rest of my family was important to us both. The schools were good, the people were friendly and purchasing a home was more affordable.
“As it turned out, this was the right move. Just over a year later, in August 2016, Cheryl’s cancer returned in her brain and she was given a year to live. Being back in Portage was very comforting. Family was close and our support network was amazing. At word of her diagnosis, this town rallied around my family. Ethan played for the Trojans hockey team at the time. The parents from the team organized a schedule to have meals delivered to us daily. Kennedy’s daycare stopped charging us for their services. Neighbors, strangers, and friends all made sure our driveway was shoveled and garbage bins brought in. My employer, Irwin Flooring, gave me time off and told me my job would always be there whenever I wanted to return.
“Everyone in Portage stepped up in a big way. My sister organized a fundraiser. The people in this amazing town bought up those tickets within days. The night of the fundraiser, I saw people I hadn’t seen in years. People whom I’d never met introduced themselves and offered their time and resources for anything we may need. People opened their hearts and wallets for one reason, to support one of their own. Local businesses donated all the prizes, food, and beverages. There are too many businesses to list but if it was locally owned, chances are they donated to the cause. It was an amazing night.
“Sadly, in August 2017, Cheryl passed away. The people of Portage once again stepped up to see my family through that time. I am forever grateful to this town and its people for how they responded to a family in crisis.”
Colin’s life came full circle in March of 2019 when he ran into a neighbour from his growing-up years, Colley-Ann Bachalo. They started talking and their relationship took off. They planned a big wedding but ended up getting married in September 2020 in a very small ceremony, thanks to Covid-19.
“That’s right... I got the girl next door!”
Colin says he hears people give the same reasons he had for leaving Portage or saying they’ll never return. To them, he says, “Never say never. If you’re looking to live in a safe, friendly community, then Portage is the place to be. I would especially encourage young families to move here. More people equal more opportunity.”
Based on Galatians 6:2, I believe Portage la Prairie made God pleased and proud with the outpouring of community support and generosity for Colin and his family. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”