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Montana’s Cookhouse on Empress Street
Written by Sylvia Jansen

“Andrew Hooper, Trina Neilson and Darrell Scott
Photo credit: Lisa Waldner”

When guests arrive at Montana’s Cookhouse on Empress Street in Winnipeg, they can expect good, hearty food and healthy portions of genuine hospitality.  Good food comes from quality ingredients well prepared; genuine hospitality comes from the right mix of good people and the quality of their care, for the guest and for each other.  A natural leader behind the scenes in the kitchen is the senior dishwasher Darrell Scott, who lives with an intellectual disability.

Darrell’s contribution goes beyond the spotless dishes he sends out to guests.  He assists in preparation, stocking supplies and many other tasks.  “He’s one of the unsung heroes.  The whole restaurant revolves around Darrell and his work,” comments Andrew Hooper, a colleague in the kitchen.  He remarks that Darrell’s dependability, his willingness to help wherever needed, and his sense of humour all contribute to their success.  For his part, Darrell clearly takes pride in everything he does and enjoys working with his colleagues.

In an industry where staff turnover is always a concern, Darrell has become one of the longest serving staff members, and the highest paid dishwasher.  “He participates in training new staff,” says Trina Neilson, general manager, “not just because he has good technique but because he has a great attitude.”  She adds that if he sees snow that needs to be shoveled, or someone in the kitchen who needs a hand, he is ready to help.

What would his employer say to someone considering hiring a person with an intellectual or learning disability?  “Give the person an opportunity,” says Neilson.  “If you do, they’ll find their niche.  Everyone has a talent or a quality that can make a great employee,” she notes.  In Darrell Scott, Montana’s has someone whose talent and approach is part of the hospitality.


MTS Allstream, Inc.
Written by Sylvia Jansen

“Craig and Nickie at MTS Allstream
Photo credit: Lisa Waldner”

Every automated system relies on people to take care of problems. At MTS Allstream’s Corydon offices in Winnipeg, one of the key people is Craig. He is the person responsible for sorting error reports and re-directing them to the right staff person. Craig has an important role—and it shows that his disability does not define who he is or what he can do.

Nickie McKim, Manager of Facilities Assignment, says that Craig’s work helps enormously. “His work has freed other staff to be more effective in their own work,” she says. “That helps us respond to customers more quickly.”

Sorting error reports originally went to each person according to area of responsibility, but aligning them in one job for Craig has made the entire department more efficient. His is straightforward, but time-consuming work, and Craig does it with care and enthusiasm. Craig has been with MTS Allstream for almost 15 years, a reliable, productive worker who enjoys earning a regular part-time salary and benefits. A supported employment agency is available to help with questions or follow-up training.

Moreover, Craig’s presence is more than a practical contribution—he makes the place more human. “The relationships he encourages exceed expectations,” says Nickie. And there is no added work for management: “The only difference between him and others is that I might check to clarify any new directives.”

Would his manager recommend this sort of arrangement to other employers?  Absolutely, says Nickie. “In any large workplace, there is always a portion of work that could be moved to one person and make everyone more effective.”

More effective work, better customer response, and a happier workplace.  It’s easy to do if you see the potential.

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Featured Success Stories

Montana’s Cookhouse on Empress Street

MTS Allstream, Inc.