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Brandon and Area Retired Teachers Association (BARTA)

Brandon and Area Retired Teachers Association (BARTA)


The aims and objectives of Brandon and Area Retired Teachers’ Association (BARTA) include promoting wellness and the economic and social interests of its members, promoting interest in educational issues, and providing opportunities for personal growth. An important component of all BARTA activities is time for members to mix and mingle with other retired teachers from Brandon and the surrounding area.

BARTA is a chapter of Retired Teachers’ Association of Manitoba (RTAM) and maintains a relationship with Brandon Teachers’ Association (BTA). Currently, two BARTA members serve on the Executive Board and/or committees at the provincial level, and one BARTA Executive Board member attends the Council meetings of Brandon Teachers’ Association, with reciprocal sharing of information.

The BARTA AGM is held in April of each year. The fiscal year-end is June 30.

News and Updates

In 2022-2023, BARTA instituted an annual review of the Constitution and Bylaws. Revised documents were approved at the April 4, 2023, AGM. A Policies and Procedures Manual was developed; it was also approved at the meeting. This year, BARTA has recruited volunteers to serve on five standing committees, with good involvement by the general membership. The reorganization of the files of WREA, the precursor to BARTA, was completed and the water-resistant tubs of documents are now stored at the office of Brandon Teachers’ Association.

With the committee work underway, the Membership Committee undertook a membership recruitment initiative. Strategies included emailing/mailing letters to 2022-2023 members and prospective members, along with personal phone calls to those who didn’t respond. A membership form was developed to gather contact information for the individual and an emergency contact. The form included asking for permission to share their contact information with other members and post their photo on social media and promotional materials. Members were asked to verify the air membership in RTAM. A Facebook page was created, for members only, to increase members’ involvement in BARTA events. As of October 31, this initiative has garnered 61 life, full, and associate members, a 39% increase.

Committee chairs were asked to submit budget estimates and timelines for their work. This information has been collated for fine tuning. The budget will inform a discussion and decision re a potential increase in membership fees.

The BARTA President was invited to attend the annual retirement reception. Once again, an invitation to retiring teachers was created for the June issue of the newsletter, BTA BUZZ, as well as a monthly advertisement for the 2023-2024 editions, encouraging retiring teachers to contact BARTA about membership. We are fortunate to maintain a reciprocal relationship with the Teachers’ Association.

With funding previously received from the 2020-2021 RTAM Wellness Grant initiative, which had remained unspent due to COVID restrictions, BARTA hosted a seminar with Joy Bowman, a certified funeral pre- planning consultant. More than fifty attendees learned nine points of preparation to ensure their executor(s) would have the necessary documentation to complete their responsibilities.

Although BARTA received Chapter Initiative Grant funding for an excursion to the International Peace Gardens in June, the event was cancelled. Instead, members travelled to Portage la Prairie and visited the Fort la Reine Museum. Lunch at a local restaurant and a short stop at a garden centre completed the day.

BARTA hosted the RTAM AGM on May 2-3, 2023. At the pre-AGM event, Brandon artist Weiming Zhao shared the account of his journey from China to Brandon, as well as the story of his passion for creating artworks en plein air.

At the lunch socials, BARTA distributes a newsletter to its members. Each edition informs readers about the activities of the Association and its Executive and advertises upcoming events. This year, short biographies of our Life Members and longtime officers will be featured. The newsletter takes the place of the meeting formerly held at the lunch socials and is emailed to our contact list after the luncheon

Executive Board – 2023-2024

President Catherine McLaren

Vice-President Darlene Wilkinson

Secretary/BTA Liaison Heather Shelton


Connections Mavis Johnston

Director/Caring Connections Ida Hallatt

Director Doug Adams

Director Pat Bowslaugh

Immediate Past President Rick Oakden


BARTA members gather for lunch on the second Tuesday of September, November, February, and April (AGM). These events provide a time to reconnect with colleagues, followed by entertainment or an educational program. Draws take place for door prizes and 50/50. On the first Wednesday of each month throughout the school year, members meet for breakfast or coffee at a local restaurant; spouses and friends are welcome to share in the camaraderie.

BARTA developed Special Interest Groups starting with a Readers’ Group and a Local Theatre Group. These allow members to enjoy discussions and attend events with others.

Our members volunteer at Brandon Teachers’ Association’s LIFT Conference each October.

Our Caring Connections team provides cards and phone calls to members in times of celebration and sadness.

Thanks to RTAM’s Wellness and Chapter Initiative Grants, BARTA members enjoy excursions and educational programs throughout the year.

AGM Report

Westman Retired Educators’ Association’s AGM was held via Zoom on April 4, 2023. The following members were elected to the Executive Board:

A revised Constitution and Bylaws were adopted at the AGM, formally changing the organization’s name to Brandon and Area Retired Teachers’ Association (BARTA). In conjunction with the new title, a logo was designed and adopted. An email account ( was also established.

The President and Vice-President attended two events hosted by Brandon Teachers’ Association, one in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Brandon 88 and the other celebrating the retirement of teachers in 2020, 2021, and 2022. BARTA held its Executive Board meetings at the BTA office and placed its archival files in the storage area.

With a goal of transitioning from WREA to BARTA, ad hoc committees were struck, one to review the Constitution and Bylaws and develop a Policies and Procedures manual, the other to organize the WREA files to ensure that its history would be preserved. The three governance documents were presented at the BARTA AGM in April 2023. At the time of writing, adoption has not taken place. As a follow-up to this year’s organizational work, Executive Board members plan to develop timelines for the Association and each committee with a view to assisting officers, directors, and committee chairs in their roles. A manual for planning the BARTA AGM will be drafted as well.

In local philanthropy, BARTA organized a fundraiser for three local charities in April 2022. Members donated to the charity(ies) of their choice, with a total of $3,365 distributed to Samaritan House, Westman Women’s Shelter, and Brandon Humane Society. BARTA members again assisted Brandon Teachers’ Association at its annual LIFT Conference.

Three BARTA members received recognition for their service to RTAM. Ray Sitter was presented with an “RTAM Distinguished Service Award” and Pat Bowslaugh and Mavis Johnston each received an “RTAM Chapter Member Distinguished Service Award”.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, funding for RTAM Wellness and Chapter Initiative events was held for future use. Funding previously received from the Wellness Initiative Grant supported the “Ducks in a Row” funeral pre-planning seminar presented by Joy Bowman in April.

BARTA members were pleased to return to in-person events this year, including socials and meetings. Four luncheons were held during the year, one at a teahouse and museum, and three at a local seniors’ centre. Each included a program. Formal meetings were discontinued at the luncheons. Instead, the Executive distributed a newsletter to communicate BARTA information. Each luncheon opened with a land acknowledgment and giving of thanks. The monthly Breakfast Club, held at a local restaurant, included members and guests. Meetings of the Executive Board took place in the Conference Room at the BTA Office.

President Catherine McLaren

Vice-President Darlene Wilkinson

Secretary Heather Shelton

Treasurer Mavis Johnston

Director Pat Bowslaugh

Director Ida Hallatt

Director Doug Adams

Immediate Past President Rick Oakden

The Caring Connections Committee sent cards to members who experienced illness, loss, or special celebrations, and phoned those who do not receive email to keep them up to date on BARTA matters. In February, our Association honoured member Hazel Skuce with a corsage on her 111th birthday.

BARTA’s member recruitment campaign included a congratulatory message to retiring teachers in the June edition of the BTA BUZZ newsletter and a monthly advertisement in that publication. This is another example of the positive relationship between our associations.

Immediate Past President Rick Oakden established special interest groups as chapter activities for members and guests. To date, a group has attended a local musical theatre production. Further activities will be organized in the fall.

BARTA is pleased to host the RTAM AGM on May 2-3. Ad hoc Host Committee Co-chairs Heather Shelton and Doug Adams organized activities, solicited volunteers, and worked with RTAM staff to prepare for the event.

BARTA’s Annual General Meeting is planned for 1:00 p.m. on April 4, 2023, following lunch at Seniors for Seniors.

Respectfully submitted,

Catherine McLaren Presiden

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Additional Information

Membership Fee: $7.00 annually

Luncheon Schedule: Tuesday, September 12, 2023

  • Tuesday, November 14, 2023
  • Tuesday, February 13, 2024
  • Tuesday, April 2, 2024 – AGM

The venue for the lunch socials changes each time, with attendees choosing their meal from the menu and taking responsibility for their own tab. This has been well received by the membership. A presentation has been arranged for each luncheon.