COVID-19 was the top news story of the year — everywhere.
But that doesn’t mean it was the only news to come out of Manitoba this year.
Here’s Global Winnipeg’s top 10 news stories for 2020 – that had nothing to do with coronavirus.
10: Accused neo-Nazi Patrik Mathews arrested
A former Manitoba army reservist with alleged ties to a neo-Nazi group was arrested in the U.S. in January, nearly five months after he went missing.
Patrik Mathews of Beausejour, Man., was arrested in Delaware by Baltimore FBI officers.
Mathews, 27, faces charges of transporting a firearm and ammunition with intent to commit a felony and “being an alien” in possession of a gun and ammunition, the agency said in a statement.
Police allege that Mathews was a member of The Base, which the FBI calls a “racially motivated violent extremist group.”
Mathews disappeared in August after a Winnipeg Free Press report alleged he had been recruiting for the group.
Before he was relieved of his duties with the Canadian Armed Forces, Mathews was a combat engineer who had achieved the rank of master corporal with the 38 Canadian Brigade Group in Winnipeg.
He will be in U.S. court next in January.
9. CMHR accused of racism
In social media posts, former employees alleged that they experienced racism and homophobia while working at the museum.
John Young, then-CMHR president and CEO, told 680 CJOB the museum recognizes that it has an obligation to take the allegations seriously and to act according to its mandate.
Young stepped down shortly after.
In August, an independent report said it found “pervasive and systemic” racism at the national museum in Winnipeg, adding the museum was rife with sexism, heterosexism and homophobia.
A new CEO was announced in August, Isha Khan, and the museum released a new framework in an effort to make things better.
8. The Bay downtown closes
While it seemed like a sudden death, it was actually long in the making.
The last of Winnipeg’s iconic downtown department stores, The Bay, abruptly closed at the end of November.
Earlier this year, the Hudson’s Bay Company announced it would be closing the store at Portage Avenue and Memorial Boulevard in February 2021, but on Nov. 30 the company confirmed those plans had changed thanks to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.
“In light of recently announced restrictions on non-essential retail by the Government of Manitoba, we have made the decision to close this location today,” HBC spokesperson Tiffany Bourré said in an email.
The department store has struggled for decades, and over the last several years, floor after floor was closed down.
An assessment done by the store chain found that the building was worth $0 in November 2019.
7. Melita teens killed by tornado
In what was deemed the strongest tornado in Canada this year by Environment and Climate Change Canada, a storm near Virden, Man., claimed the lives of two teens on Aug. 6.
The tornado touched down near Highway 83 and Road 50N in the RM of Pipestone, 16 kilometres south of the town.
RCMP said they arrived on scene to find a nearby farm had suffered extensive damage and two vehicles had been carried away and thrown into a nearby field.
Carter Tilbury and Shayna Barnesky, both 18 years old from Melita, Man., were driving in the area when the tornado hit.
Friend U’Shaun Campbell told Global News he was shocked when his dad woke him from his sleep that night to tell him the teens had been killed.
“I started crying, I was like, ‘No way,’ because I just saw them,” Campbell said, who worked at nearby store.
“They would always come in, get their stuff, always say ‘hi’ to me as soon as they walk through the door with a smile on their face.”
Melita Mayor Bill Holden said the whole community was hurting.
“It’s not a good time for the town, I can tell you that right now,” Holden said.
“It’s bad enough when you lose two young people like this anywhere but when you lose a couple like this in a small community, everybody is impacted.”
6. Eisha Hudson shot by Winnipeg police
Winnipeg police shot Eishia Hudson on April 8 at the intersection of Lagimodiere Boulevard and Fermor Avenue, following what they said was a “full blown pursuit.”
Hudson, 16, was killed after police chased a stolen SUV following the robbery of a liquor store.
The vehicle rammed a police cruiser and also collided with a number of other cars near Lagimodiere Boulevard and Fermor Avenue, police say.
Four other people in the SUV were arrested and are facing a number of charges. Eishia was driving, said police.
The city’s police shot four other people this year. Three, including Eishia, were Indigenous and shot within 10 days of each other.
The incident sparked a vigil and later a rally in June at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
“We are going to find Justice for Eishia,” Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew said at the rally. “But we’re also going to have your back, and we’re going to make that change for all of us in the community.”
Signs reading “Not Another Indigenous Life” and “Justice 4 Eishia” were just some of the many displayed throughout the evening.
5. Surprise flooding in Rivers
Thirty-eight homes and 83 people in southern Manitoba were evacuated on July 1 as a “one-in-1,000-year-event” flooded the Rivers Dam and other areas in Southern Manitoba.
“The government no longer has confidence in the structure in the dam at Rivers, Manitoba,” Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler said at a press conference.
“Out of an abundance of caution, residents and livestock downstream of the dam should be evacuated.”
While Manitobans are used to flooding, this one was not predicted, nor was it caused by spring snowmelt.
A major storm system that produced up to 155 millimetres of rain in a few hours overwhelmed the Assiniboine River watershed and also produced a possible tornado.
More rain came the following day.
The effects of the flood washed downstream, hitting areas near and in Brandon and Minnedosa the hardest.
The Rivers Dam was in danger of collapsing two days later, but survived.
No one was hurt.
4. Dale Hawerchuk dies
His son Eric Hawerchuk posted on social media that his father had died after a battle with cancer.
The Hall of Fame centre wore Winnipeg colours from ’81 through the 1989-90 season, and although he played his last game as a Jet 30 years ago, Hawerchuk had been on Manitobans’ minds in recent months due to his battle with stomach cancer.
On April 13, Hawerchuk finished his final round of chemotherapy in a Barrie, Ont., hospital, and at the time he told 680 CJOB it felt good to be on the other side of something he didn’t know he would survive.
Unfortunately, Hawerchuk’s family posted that his cancer had returned in July.
Hawerchuk’s No. 10 banner, which had been hanging from the rafters of Bell MTS Place, was temporarily moved to True North Square so Winnipeggers could visit in person and remember the hockey legend.
Jets co-owner Mark Chipman choked back tears during a call with media as he described Hawerchuk’s legacy as the greatest Jet of all time.
“(Hawerchuk was) that humble kid who came in here and did all his talking with his game, and never lost that sense of humility — notwithstanding a Hall of Fame career,” said Chipman. “Right until the last couple of days, he just was Dale.
“He told me many, many times how proud he was to be a Manitoban — that he considered himself to be a Manitoban. It’s one thing to say that… It’s another thing to have actually been one.”
3. Peter Nygard is arrested
A year of accusations against Peter Nygard culminated in his arrest in December.
The fashion mogul from Manitoba was arrested on charges of sex trafficking and racketeering. He is currently in jail in Manitoba awaiting the outcome of an extradition request by U.S. officials.
In February of this year, several women came forward and signed their names to a class-action lawsuit against Nygard, claiming he raped, trafficked or assaulted them, some when they were teens.
After the news of the lawsuit broke, dozens more women added their names to the claim, for a total of 57 women.
His lawyer, Jay Prober, says Nygard denies all the allegations and “expects to be vindicated in court.”
Nygard blames a conspiracy by a neighbour of his in the Bahamas as the reason behind the allegations.
2. Nine Winnipeggers die in plane crash in Iran
Nine people from Winnipeg were killed after a passenger plane was shot down near Tehran, Iran’s capital city, on Jan. 8.
Officials said 57 Canadians died in the crash, which killed 176 people. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said 138 of those on board were connecting to Canada.
The city’s Iranian community, politicians and other mourners gathered in the Caboto Centre a few days later. By the time the vigil began, some 500 people had crammed into the banquet hall, leaving standing room only for straggling mourners.
“There are many people who feel sympathy who are here to pay respect,” said Mohammad Jafari-Jozani, a vigil organizer and University of Manitoba professor.
He knew six of the victims.
“I cannot describe how I feel, I’m still in shock,” he said. “This is something that is not acceptable to happen in this world.”
At first believed to be an accident, it was revealed three days later that the plane was shot down by the Iranian military amid escalating tensions between Iran and the U.S.
1. Thousands gather peacefully for #Justice4BlackLives rally
A peaceful rally to bring attention to police brutality, racism and injustice suffered by Black people was attended by thousands of people in Winnipeg on June 5.
Called the #Justice4BlackLives rally, the event joined rallies and protests around the world, sparked by the death of George Floyd, a Black man, in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.
Four officers have been charged in his killing.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin faces second-degree murder charges and three other fired officers, Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao, are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
Numerous people spoke at the rally, including MLA Uzoma Asagwara, Nadine Sookermany, Adeline Bird, Natalie Bell, Sandy Deng, Mandela Kuet, Michelle Edwards and Kayla Fernandes.
Community organizer Mandela Kuet, who works with newcomers to Manitoba, told the crowd it’s important to continue the fight for justice outside of this moment.
“Today we are here to lend our voices… our voice will be loud and clear, with no restraint, against the racial injustice Black people experience all around this globe,” said Kuet.
“What will you do tomorrow? What will you do next year? And what will you do in the next decade to ensure justice takes its course?”
After the rally, protesters walked to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to gather.
It was the largest peaceful protest the province has seen in decades and the largest to ever gather in front of the CMHR.
—With files from Sam Thompson, Shane Gibson and The Canadian Press