Lara Rae

Like the namesake of this honour, Rae is an orator and an entertainer, a teacher and an advocate. She leverages her enthusiasm to bring about change in society. It is in her nature to give of herself with openness, humour and grace, which invigorates others to do the same.

Rae’s current trail blazes through the streets of West Broadway, where she helps to deliver as many as 150 home-cooked meals a week, along with support and supplies, to her neighbours dealing with food and shelter insecurity with an initiative called Pantry and through her work as a floor manager at 1JustCity.

Inspired by a lifelong love of cooking and a short story by Raymond Carver entitled A Small, Good Thing, Rae looked for a way to raise the spirits of the people in her community through her passion for food.

“There is a spiritual comfort that can be derived from the gift of fresh food,” Rae said.
Rae began making and sharing home-cooked meals from a stock of fresh, healthy ingredients.
With a primary goal to “uplift,” Rae named her new initiative Pantry, and in August 2019, the self-proclaimed “food purveyor to the disenfranchised” shared her vision on social media.
Soon dozens of friends and strangers were arriving at Rae’s door with trays of chicken breasts and cloves of garlic and bags of potatoes and more. The Bear Clan Patrol, helped to put those meals directly into the hands of those in need.

Today, Pantry boasts a growing network of about 1,000 supporters and serves more than 150 meals a week along with the 400 meals 1JustCity distributes. Rae also creates and delivers dignity bags filled with shampoo, deodorant and feminine hygiene products. Through the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, she has become a volunteer Community Nutrition Educator.

The recent success of Pantry is fueled by the same infectious energy Rae has leveraged throughout her life to create community, bring about change, celebrate inclusion and inspire action, both in Manitoba and far beyond.

Rae blazed a trail in Canada’s comedy scene over the last 30 years – including as co-founder and longtime artistic director of the successful Winnipeg Comedy Festival where she was invested in uplifting women and diverse comics.
As one of the developers of the hit television series Little Mosque on the Prairie, Rae earned three Canadian Comedy Awards and a Gemini Award nomination. The series ran for six seasons and aired around the world.

In 2019, Rae shared her own story of a “half-century long (and counting) gender odyssey” in a moving original play entitled Dragonfly.” The play is described as “a call to all of us to forge creativity from chaos.” She was also the first transgender person to guest host a national CBC news program when she guest hosted The Current. She currently teaches adult ed classes on opera and literature and is an instructor at the University of Winnipeg in the women and gender studies department.

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