Even as a child, Vi Enns-Preston knew Lac du Bonnet would be her forever home. Five decades later, she’s become well-known as a hard-working community member and has been involved with many community organizations and businesses.
Elected in 2022, she is a first-time Councillor.
Vi (the pronunciation rhymes with “sky”) first got to know the region when she camped in the Whiteshell in a trailer with her family every weekend growing up. They even camped in the winter, when they would snowmobile.
It was 1972 that Vi’s parents bought 6-and-a-half acres of land on the Pinawa Channel and moved the trailer there until they built a cabin. Built at the bottom of a hill, one could not drive down it in winter, Vi recalls.
The cabin was a small, with three bedrooms, and Vi recalls her father putting blue shag carpeting on the walls for insulation.
She considered herself a local because she played and partied with the locals, she says. “When visiting, I hated going back to the city. I was a country girl at heart.”
Vi attended the University of Winnipeg for three years in the faculty of education, before getting into a serious car accident that derailed her schooling. The accident caused her to lose her memory for about two years.
After the accident, she moved to Lac du Bonnet full time, finding a house for herself and her two boys on Edward Crescent.
She worked at Casey’s Inn as a cleaner and steak pit cook, and then at Chicken Chef when it came to Town. Later, she took a job with the Town of Lac du Bonnet, driving the garbage truck.
In 1995, after a few years with the Town, Vi decided to open her own business with much more pleasant aromas —Violet’s Greenhouse. In 2000, she and her husband Daryl Preston married and operated the greenhouse together through 2005, with Vi achieving a Certificate in Horticulture through online courses.
“I loved working in the greenhouse and enjoyed meeting all the gardeners and helping them plan their yards,” Vi says. “I got caught sleeping in the greenhouse a few times — they were long days.”
During this time, Vi also worked for Natural Resources at the Pinawa Dam and campgrounds in the Nopiming for the summers. In the winters, she worked part-time at RONA in Town.
On top of all this, Vi was a member of the Lac du Bonnet Lion’s Club and from 2002 to 2004, served as the first female Lion’s Club President. She later served as Zone Chair and Region Chair; as Region Chair, she attended meetings all over Winnipeg and learned how to create agendas and oversee proceedings.
Vi and Daryl moved to her parents’ property in 2005 and lived the old cabin, as her parents moved to Riverland Road. In 2010, Daryl, a carpenter, took a year off work to build a new home.
Her work with the Lion’s Club led to her being awarded the District Governor’s Award along and a Melvin Jones Fellowship Award.
Vi now works a full-time year-round as a security officer at TANCO Mine. She has never been in politics before, but says “I knew that I could do a good job of sticking up for my community and doing the right thing. I believe that I was supported because I have a down-to-earth attitude and am honest and personable. People know that I will fight for what is needed.”
As for the challenges the RM of Lac du Bonnet faces, Vi believes one is a lack of affordable housing. She sees that new hires at TANCO can often not find a place in the RM and have to commute from elsewhere.
Vi also believes Lac du Bonnet needs a personal care home, which has been the subject of much discussion for several years. “I know people who are put into Selkirk Hospital because of lack of room closer by,” she says. “Their spouse has a long way to go to visit their loved one.” Her own mother, who is 90 was on the Ladies Auxiliary in Lac du Bonnet, lives in a PCH in Winnipeg.
Vi and Daryl have been married since 2000 and they own 6 ½ acres on the Pinawa Channel. They are also proud owners of Tiger Lily, a one-year-old pit bull/longhaired bull mastiff mix.
Her boys have families of their own — one of her sons works for Manitoba Hydro at Point du Bois and the other works at Star Lumber — and she always looks forward to their visits.
In her spare time, Vi enjoys painting pictures and doing crafts. When she is mobile enough —she had her left knee replaced five years ago and is waiting for the right knee to be replaced —she enjoys golfing and hiking.