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Explorers excited to promote southeast Saskatchewan

The Southeast Explorers have been busy promoting all that the southeast has to offer.

SOUTHEAST SASKATCHEWAN - They come from diverse backgrounds, but they have one common bond: a desire to showcase the southeast region. 

Earlier this year, Community Futures Sunrise announced the launch of the Southeast Explorers program – eight people tasked with promoting what this region has to offer. Similar to the Tourism Saskatchewan Saskatchewanderer initiative, the explorers will visit locations and events in the southeast, and promote them on Facebook, Instagram and an ExploreSEsask website.  

Two of the explorers, Brady Johnson and Monique Willms, are from Estevan. Justin Marcotte hails from Torquay. Nicole Currie is from Carlyle. Then there is Pam Altwasser of Yellow Grass, Shannon Douglas of McTaggart and Connie Arndt of Weyburn, who are known as the Red Chair Amigos; and Lindsay Manko-Bauch of Weyburn.  

Johnson said she has always loved travelling and experiencing new things. She used to think she had to venture elsewhere to do it, but in the last few years, she has come to realize that she can do it in Saskatchewan.  

“There’s so much more to see and experience than we think there is,” said Johnson. 

She believes there are some neat “hidden gems” in the southeast, such as Ogema, which has a barbecue restaurant, some amazing food and a train tour that starts and finishes in the village.

Many of her assignments, and those of the other explorers, are tied to their personalities and their interests.  

“My area of expertise or enjoyment is really anything that’s outdoors, that’s active or adventurous, and anything that involves food or coffee,” Johnson said.

Already she has had one expedition. She visited Kenosee Lake for a sailing journey. Then she walked around the beach and enjoyed an ice cream cone. 

Johnson went to Carlyle and stopped in at the Lotus Tree spa for their unwind package, which included a massage and a facial. 

“As far as the spa, I couldn’t believe that we have something like that in southeast Saskatchewan. It’s very comparable, if not even better, than anything I’ve experienced in a large city. That was a fantastic experience. I couldn’t believe that was there,” she said.  

“Overall, it was very neat. I didn’t know you could sail in southeast Saskatchewan, either, so that was a great experience, just learning how sailing works and getting to experience that out on Kenosee Lake.”  

She also stopped in at Michael’s Coffee Shop and Bakery in Carlyle, and dropped by Carlyle’s new spray park.  

Johnson is also looking forward to travelling to Oxbow’s Bow Valley Park for paddle boarding and camping, and she will be going to Woodlawn Regional Park and Roche Percee.

She wants people to know that anyone can be outside and active. It doesn’t take a lot of equipment, she said, it’s just a matter of wanting to do something. 

Willms said she loves exploring and inspiring people to take ownership of where they live. 

“I think sometimes when we live in an area, we … don’t always see it through a visitor’s eyes and all of the really cool stuff that we have,” said Willms. 

She loves to promote the region and showcase these experiences, and she gets an opportunity to explore more as well. 

Her first experience also took her to Carlyle and Kenosee Lake. Willms and her family visited the swimming pool, shopped in the downtown area, and then went to the Kenosee Inn and Cabins. They visited the Artist Colony at Moose Mountain Provincial Park and then they went kayaking.

“Typically I’m usually a bit of a package deal, so I travel primarily with my family – my husband and my two teenaged children,” said Willms. 

She was particularly impressed with Carlyle’s downtown area and the businesses it boasts.

Willms will be in Oxbow in early August for the Bow Valley Jamboree, and her family will be kayaking in the area. Some other projects are under development.  

She is looking forward to visiting the Happy Nun Café in Forget – a place that she has yet to visit. And she would love to head out with local fishing expert Ralph Smart with Prairie Pro Outfitters, an experience she had previously with Tourism Estevan.

Willms typically leans more towards outdoor activities.  

“We love hiking, we love kayaking, we love skiing,” said Willms. “The great thing about the explorer program is that we’re doing this for a year, so that we get to showcase the region in all seasons.” 

Willms said she has received great feedback to the explorers concept thus far. Everybody has been kind and engaging, and the destination businesses they have worked with have been fantastic. 

“That’s one of my favourite things right now, is just getting to hear people’s stories, and just to see them living their passion. I just think that always adds so much richness to an experience, when you know the people behind it.” 

The public has been interacting favourably and offering suggestions and invitations.

Marcotte said he is looking forward to showcasing all of the gems in southeast Saskatchewan and having some fun in the process.  

His first gig as an explorer was this past weekend, when he went to the Lake Alma Mud Monkees Mud Drags. It was the first time he has been to the event. 

“They have the different classes of trucks that are doing mud bog races.,” said Marcotte. 

He took photos and videos of the event for the explorers social media feeds.  

The more free time he has, the more exploring he can do and the more events he can fit in. It’s a pretty flexible schedule. 

He has a couple of other things planned, but nothing has been finalized.  

Marcotte said he wants to get out to the sites and events that might not be as well known in the southeast, including the smaller communities, and profile all that they have to offer. 

If there are businesses and others who want to be part of the program, they can contact Community Futures Sunrise.