Sam Manty joins the Fort Frances museum team as the new program director

By Elisa Nguyen
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Samantha Manty has always loved community programming and looks forward to spearheading new initiatives as the new program director at the Fort Frances Museum and Cultural Center.

Wednesday, March 15 was her last day as Children’s Services Clerk at the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre (FFPLTC) and she said that it was a joy working with kids and families in the community since 2018. But she’s excited to continue serving the community in her new role.

The museum is like the heart of the community, Manty said. As she looks forward to being a champion for the town’s history by organizing events at the Museum, she also looks back on her own history in community programming.

Manty pursued further education in Montreal when she was 22 years old, interested in trying something new and wanting to learn French.

She applied and was accepted into the Community Recreation Leadership Training program, a well known program in Quebec that prepares its students to work in demanding and fast-paced environments.

“It’s a program that kind of prepares you for all different types of event planning, fundraising programming. When you’re done, you should be equipped to be able to be a director of a big community centre, but then it also gives you the skills to be able to branch out and do many other things,” Manty said.

“I have friends who have worked with the Montreal Canadiens, I have friends who help plan the bike tour for cancer across Canada, just a lot of different things like that.”

Out of 45 people in the class, only 21 graduated, she said.

In their final year of the program, students had to complete a mandatory three-month placement. Manty had looked at working with nonprofit organizations such as Me to We in Toronto or Head & Hands in Montreal, but finally made the decision to return to Fort Frances where she would be able to make a difference in her own community.

Manty said her internship was with the Fort Frances Museum and Cultural Centre, exactly 10 years ago.

“I had reached out to Sherry George, who was the curator at the time, to see if she would be interested in hosting me as an intern. And you know, we had an interview and hit her off really well. So I booked a ticket home and I came in, did three months of internship here at the museum,” she said.

One of the ideas Manty brought to the Museum committee during her internship was SnOasis – a program that the museum still runs today.

“I would say things have changed in the sense that at that time, I was really getting my feet under me and I was really just trying to feel out what I might be able to do for the Museum, how I might be able to provide some interesting programming while I was here for just a short amount of time. So within three months, there’s only so much that you can squeeze in that amount of time.”

Now returning to work at the museum, Manty is excited to build on some of her ideas.

After her internship, Manty worked for the Chamber of Commerce for several months, to help with events and programming, including a Chili Cook-off, a business award event with guest Ryan McMahon, Anishinaabe journalist and award-winning writer, and many other holiday events.

One of her proudest moments was when she organized the Teddy Bear Picnic for the Library, which garnered 736 community members, a record-breaking number of attendees.

As former Director for Riverside Foundation for Healthcare, in charge of raising funds for La Verendrye Hospital, Rainycrest Long Term Care Home, Emo Healthcare Facilities, and Rainy River Healthcare Facilities, Manty learned how to organize fundraising events on a tight budget, a skill that she believes will be helpful in her new role at the Museum.

“That was a big, big job, doing all the fundraising alongside with the special events committee, who were all volunteers, but really working hard to be able to make money for a good cause without having to spend a lot of money,” she said.

Manty believes that her experience building relationships with many community partners will be put to good use for the Museum.

“I’m really excited about this new change being at the Museum, because I’m so so passionate about the Museum, about local history, and just trying to get more people in the doors and knowing what we’re about and all the wonderful things that the Museum has to offer. And I feel like my career choices and schooling have lined me up perfectly for this to be a good fit,” Manty said.

“I’m just really excited for the fact that I’m going to have time to be able to put together some really interesting and meaningful programming for the community, like I’m here for a marathon, not a race. And I’d really just like to be able to do all of these different skills that I’ve acquired.”

Manty said she is looking forward to providing diverse programming for different age groups throughout the entire year. Building on her love for planning big events, she said she is also excited to take on input from the community and put on new and old programming events at the Rainy Lake Square.

“I would really like to see a lot more family programming happening at the Square. So we’ll see if I’m able to make that happen. And yeah, just more things going on. And I’d love to have things going on into the fall as well,” she said.

In case some were wondering, Thursday Markets will continue at the Rainy Lake Square, she said.

Manty said she is also excited to put her own spin on things.

In regards to working alongside Danielle Marshall who took on the role as the new Curator late last year, Manty believes they will make a good team.

“She’s got so many wonderful ideas, she’s very supportive, and she has a lot of experience with different museums and I just think we’re gonna make a really good team. I’m really excited to be working with her.”

Miss Sam Manty will be missed by kids and their caregivers, as she leaves her post as Children’s Services Clerk, at the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre. She may not be leading story time anymore, but she hasn’t gone far – she’s taken up the newly created program director position at the Fort Frances Museum and Cultural Centre, where she has lots of ideas for community events. – Submitted photo

Manty started work at the FFPLTC in April 2018, starting in the public services clerk position for almost a year before taking on the role as Children’s Services Clerk following the retirement of her predecessor.

As Children’s Services Clerk, Manty ran Story Time, a program in partnership with EarlyON, involving songs, activities, or crafts that would be curated around a chosen theme.

Manty also led Baby Time, held weekly on Thursdays, where she had the opportunity to connect with moms and caregivers.

One of her proudest moments was when she organized the Teddy Bear Picnic which garnered 736 community members, a record-breaking number of attendees.

FFPLTC recently announced that the weekly children’s programs will resume their regular days and times. Story Time will be on Wednesdays at 10:15 a.m. and Baby Time will be on Thursdays at 10:15 a.m.