Every year in the fall, the Manitoba Wildlife Federation (MWF) holds its largest fundraiser of the year, the Wild at Heart Banquet, which brings a night of coming together for club members and supporters to dine together, participate in live and silent auctions, and share tales of hunting, fishing and trapping experiences.

Annually, the event attracts between 450-500 people to raise funds for the MWF's many programs and initiatives.

Managing Director for the MWF, Carly Deacon, says the October 2023 event was amazing, bringing in just under $100,000.

"This is the biggest and only fundraising event the MWF puts on every year.  It was a huge success again, our biggest and best yet!  We're pretty happy, and so excited to keep growing it.  Again, it's our one and only fundraiser to generate some unrestricted funds we can use to grow the capacity of the Federation, and put towards our programming in hunting and angling."

The Manitoba Wildlife Federation has a significant role in the province, supporting approximately 110 affiliate clubs.

"We're kind of 'the mother ship' with about 15,000 members across the province," shares Deacon.  "We represent the voices of anglers, hunters, trappers and outdoor enthusiasts with two primary purposes."

One of the MWF's primary goals is to ensure the Hunter Education Program is properly administered across the province. "So, we get people off on the right foot learning everything there is to learn about hunting education and hunting in Manitoba, as well as all the opportunities that Manitoba has."

"We conduct a course for all of our graduates through certified instructors, but we also take that a step further in terms of bringing those hunter education graduates (together) and giving them more of a practical field component," she explains. 

These hands-on programs include mentored hunts and clinics that instruct firearm safety and proper hunting techniques, such as First Shot, Manitoba Junior Rifle and Provincial Hunting Day.

"On the angling side, we kind of do the same thing," notes Deacon, "Right now, for 2024, we're actually looking at launching an online Fishing 101 program which is going to be similar to the Hunter's Education Course, but everything you need to know about fishing. And of course, taking it one step further again, we're going to build in that capacity and host Fish Festivals in the spring, and new anglers how to ice fish."

"We have lots of onshore fishing clinics through the year for women and families on how to fish, both inside of Winnipeg, as well as outside of Winnipeg, expanding this program through our clubs to offer this all throughout Manitoba as well," she adds.

An important function of the MWF is its advocacy efforts for Manitoba's conservation and wildlife protection and population control.  This includes educating the Province and Manitoba residents on Chronic Wasting Disease in cervids, decreasing moose populations, illegal hunting practices, and advocating for more Conservation Officer members, equipment and their efforts.

"The MWF plays a huge role in advocating for regulation changes for the province," says Deacon. "So, we work on things like improving enforcement, assisting with Chronic Wasting Disease management, we talk about Aquatic Invasive Species and regulation changes.  We also have wildlife area management pilot projects going, so there's lots in that area too."

"So, we have a two-fold role here," summarized Deacon. "We have a big influence on the advocacy side, but also an essential role in hunter education and outdoor programming."

The 2024 Wild at Heart Banquet will be held in November rather than October. 

"We're probably going to push it more to the end of November, to give it more of a Christmas flare, and take it out of some of the hunting season that is important to our membership," say Deacon.

Visit the Manitoba Wildlife Federation website HERE! and their Facebook page HERE!