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Wakamow Valley’s new GM ‘beyond excited’ to work with organization

'This is a job I can see myself being — hopefully — in for a very long for the rest of my working career. It’s just a great opportunity. I can’t be thankful enough that I get work in a place like this.'
Donna MacQuarrie-Bye stands outside the Wakamow Valley Authority office on Home Street East. She is the new WVA general manager and is a nature enthusiast. Photo by Jason G. Antonio

The new general manager of Wakamow Valley Authority (WVA) is “beyond excited” for this new opportunity and believes it is the right position after living in Moose Jaw as a child.

“I feel things have come full circle. Just growing up in the area (and) living in the area currently (up the hill), and then being able to walk out your front door and then work in that park that’s just a few feet off your front steps,” said Donna MacQuarrie-Bye. 

“Life really doesn’t get any much better than that for me, personally. This is a job I can see myself being — hopefully — in for a very long time for the rest of my working career,” she continued. “It’s just a great opportunity. I can’t be thankful enough that I get work in a place like this.”

The new GM spent several years living near the Sportsman’s Centre before her family moved to the Village of Briercrest, from which she graduated high school in 1995. It was there that she developed her sense of community and civic commitment. 

MacQuarrie-Bye stepped into the general manager role in mid-November after former GM Todd Johnson left for another opportunity

She spent 25 years in health care, including the last 15 years in management. There, she acquired skills in recruiting and retaining staff and volunteers, budgets, audits, and program development, implementation, and evaluation. 

While she worked in health care, MacQuarrie-Bye’s educational background is in another field. She earned a diploma from Kelsey Campus, SIAST (now Saskatchewan Polytechnic) in recreation and leisure programming. That gave her skills in venue management, greenspace development, accounting and administration, and program development and promotion. 

While at SIAST, she completed an internship with the Meewasin Valley Authority in Saskatoon, which gave her a strong foundation and experience in operating, conserving and maintaining natural areas.

Due to government cuts after graduation, MacQuarrie-Bye went into health care because that’s where the jobs were. She believes her time there ran its course and the general manager role arose at the right time. 

“And it was time for a change. Better to do it now than never. Take advantage of opportunities when you can,” she said, adding this is an area in which she’s always had an interest. 

Being the new general manager will allow MacQuarrie-Bye to engage in new types of event planning and connect with the community in new ways. She also appreciates that the WVA office has a small family-like atmosphere and that she works with great people.

“And Wakamow is one of Moose Jaw’s treasures. And why wouldn’t you want to try and be a part of that?” she said.  

One unexpected aspect of the job has been the many groups that use the park and all the administrative work accompanying those partnerships. Moreover, daily management of the park has also been prominent.

“It’s busy, but it’s really, really great … ,” she continued. “It’s a lot larger job than I expected. But it’s been good.”

MacQuarrie-Bye’s favourite part of Wakamow Valley is its trails, along with nature and wildlife. 

Her favourite area is near the speed skating oval because she took her granddaughters there for walks and dubbed one spot “the magic forest.” She explained that one granddaughter was into unicorns and magic then, so she gave the spot that name to keep the child interested in the valley, nature and hiking.

MacQuarrie-Bye’s short-term goals include making it through the Valley of Lights — which runs until Jan. 7, 2023 — and becoming more familiar with WVA’s inner workings. Her long-term goals include expanding programs and bringing them to a healthy place. She expects that to be an enjoyable challenge.

For more information about WVA, visit

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