Approximately 100 people attend Neepawa Natives 'Survive or Thrive' community awareness meeting


By: Lanny Stewart

The Neepawa Natives are in a big hole financially and Tuesday night was the first step in their attempt of digging themselves out of it.

The junior 'A' club held its "Survive or Thrive" community awareness meeting at the Yellowhead Centre. Approximately 100 people attended the event, which saw the community-owned team release financial details of the organization dating back to 2007-2008. Net losses have piled up and in 2013-2014, the team recorded a net loss of more than $51,000.

"We need to get out of debt to move forward, that's basically it," said a blunt Myles Cathcart, general manager of the Natives.

"We've been carrying the debt since basically 2007," he continued. "We basically have been maxed out on a credit line."

After a financial review, the Manitoba Junior Hockey League club turned its attention to volunteerism and marketing strategies, such as local and corporate sponsorship, advertisements on its digital sign at the arena and its season ticket drive. A question-and-answer session with the people in attendance also took place.

The club also went over fundraising efforts such as a crop project, something the club has never done and is interested in getting off the ground. Natives brass say that although no one on the current board have much expertise in the area, they'd like to find a way to make the fundraising effort happen on a yearly basis.

"We would like to do it [crop project]," said Cathcart. "If we had somebody who could lend us a hand or coordinate or be the chairperson and go for it, then we're good to go, right? But, I'm not about to put a crop in. We need help in that area."

After approximately two hours of discussion, the meeting came to a conclusion. After some headway, Natives management understand that time is of the essence and that there needs to be immediate help from the community in order to keep the team viable in Neepawa.

"It's dire… If we don't get a big show of support, then I may as well just go back to my business and spend more time trying to sell TVs," said McIntosh, who is also the co-owner of Team Electronics in Neepawa.

"We don't have a lot of time," said Cathcart. "This is why we had the meeting to make sure everybody knew that we were in need of some things."

Cathcart noted that after seeing how many people from the community came to the meeting, he told members of the Natives brass that the turnout was a "good sign".

If you or anyone you know is interested in helping the club, you can contact Cathcart at 204-841-1555, McIntosh at 204-476-6007, or Cam Tibbett at 204-841-3060.

In photo: Natives president Dave McIntosh

Photo by Lanny Stewart