Our Blog

  • We <3 Summer Festivals!

    August 2, 2017

    Posted by: Jenna Diubaldo

    There’s no better way to get out into the community and chat with families in Point Douglas than by attending a summer event! We make a point of attending at least 2 festivals/events each summer to connect with North End residents regarding our work, as well as hand out some great prizes!


    This year we’ll be connecting with families regarding the North End Wellbeing Measure (NEWM)  - a community designed measurement tool that is being used to evaluate wellbeing in North End families. By creating the NEWM alongside the community, we’re able to better define wellness from a locally-driven, strength-based perspective, rather than imposing a predetermined definition of wellness and possibly missing the mark. The NEWM also takes into consideration all aspects of self, much like the teachings of the medicine wheel, in order to evaluate wellbeing from a wholistic lens.


    We’ll be asking local residents to participate in the North End Wellbeing Measure through a survey that is completed with the help of volunteers. Each participant will get their name entered into a monthly draw for a gift card.


    Here’s some information about the events we’ll be attending this month to complete surveys:


    Austin Street Festival

    Hosted by North Point Douglas Women’s Centre

    Friday, August 11, 2017

    Austin Street at Euclid Ave


    Picnic in the Park

    hosted by North End Community Renewal Corp.

    Saturday, August 19, 2017

    St. John’s Park


    Both events will feature free food, local entertainment, kids games, and bunch of other fun and exciting activities. Make sure to come by and be sure to pop in at our tent to say hello!

  • We've had the opportunity to partner with a really amazing program called the Manitoba Indigenous Doula Initiative - a group of women who are working to promote traditional Indigenous child birth/parenting teachings and incorporate them into a training program for doulas. The result is more Indigenous doulas who are able to support Indigenous moms and families in a traditional way.


    The Winnipeg Boldness Project and Mount Carmel Clinic were able to support them in piloting Wiiji'idiwag Ikwewag Sacred Circle of New Life Program as one of our small scale prototypes. We attended their graduation ceremony recently and were very honoured to be able to cheer on such a great group of women as they received their certificates of completion.


    Through this pilot training, they were able to garner attention for their program and secured funding in the amount of $835,000 in partnership with the Dr. Jaime Cidro from the University of Winnipeg, the University of Manitoba, and Nanaandawewigamig (First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba). They'll be working on training women on First Nation reserves in order to better support women in their own communities who are forced to fly to Winnipeg to give birth. You can read more about their grant here.


    A couple of the women who attended the training program wanted to share in their own words their experiences as doulas. Here are their stories:

    To move forward sometimes we need to look back.
    April Slater

    The room began getting warmer, flashes of light dash in my peripheral vision. On the bed my sister’s eyes looked wild. I smiled gently as her primal essence took over. A bolt of uncertainty in my stomach was immediately hushed.
    I imagined my inner child sitting down with her insecurities and doubts. While the old lady, the one with blood memory, the leader stood up. She took over and said what was needed. My inner kookum in her infinite calm guided my sister into a safe space to work through the pain until it was time to push.
    The energy of the room was electric. The feeling swept me up in it and it felt like riding a thunderbolt. It lit a fire in my blood and I welcomed the blood memory. My sister’s face flashed and changed. In one instance I saw my own face in hers, her face changed and she had many faces; ancient blood memory of the ancestors working through her and helping her as they awoke in this moment of creation.
    The room felt full of people as my sister brought life. We were swept up in the emotion and cried together. "He's here!" She exclaimed as she looked down at her sons face on her stomach. After the room cleared and mom/baby cleaned up, I sang to my new nephew Constance’s prayer. My doula journey began with looking back and finding the words our nana’s nana Constance the midwife would say at each of her births.
    "Babies heartbeat, the beat of the drum. Thank you creator.”

    And then she thanked me…
    Karen Swain

    So many thoughts and feelings are going through my mind.  I feel frozen and unable to move or think.  Maybe this was a huge mistake and I should just leave. I don’t feel worthy of this task. Okay – just focus. I recognise that I am panicking, and I take some deep breaths. The feelings subside.

    I do my best to regain my composure and calm down. I call upon my spirit to help me and I pray for the grandmothers to work though me — to renew my blood memory and to draw on the ancient knowledge of women for women. I ask to recall the reading, the discussions, the teachings, and all the energy from our Indigenous Doula training.

    Okay, its time. Get in there.

    I join them by the bed and she’s in the zone. She’s so focused, breathing and concentrating. Her supports are encouraging, telling her how proud they are of her. The health care providers are awesome and are reassuring and guiding her. I hear them saying she’s at seven centimetres and she’s almost fully effaced. That’s awesome I tell her – so much progress.  We encourage her to relax between contractions. We stay close to her surrounding her with love and support. It’s so hard she says. You’re doing it I tell her. Keep it up.

    I witness the transition in her. She has realised the strength of her mind, body, and spirit, and they all know what to do.  I hear them say she’s at ten centimetres and fully effaced. It’s time to push!

    I hear the deep breaths and the soft moan as she starts to push. She’s concentrating and holding it.  “Awesome,” says the provider. "Now rest until the next one."

    They come quickly and gain in strength. Again she breathes and softly grunts as she puts her energy into the child’s journey. I see the head says the provider – look at the hair!  We are all are in awe. It’s almost time to meet your baby we say.  Deep breaths and push! Push!

    The head is out.  Gently now – and there she comes! I see her face, her shoulders, her hips and her legs and toes! She’s here! The provider places baby on mom’s chest. Congratulations she says. I stand back as both mom and support take their first looks at this child they have waited for. It seemed like it took so long but it was just moments. I hear her tiny cries. She’s beautiful.

    I bow my head in gratitude for all that has occurred tonight. As she’s birthed her baby, I have birthed my doula self. I’ve been part of a sacred miracle! It’s changed my life and filled my heart! And then she thanked me.


  • Baby Basket

    June 20, 2017

    Posted by: Jenna Diubaldo

    The idea of a Baby Box is something that has been in the news a lot lately, but the concept has been around for 75 years.


    The Finnish baby box has been around since the 1930s, created by the government to combat infant mortality rates, which at the time was a rising issue. Along with many necessary items for new babies such as clothing and bedding, the box also came with a mattress and could be used as a sleep surface, which helped to ensure safe sleep and significantly reduced the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Fast forward to the present day, and the baby box has become a tradition in Finland.


    While the idea of a baby sleeping in a box might not sound like the most practical idea in Canada, the idea of providing a ‘welcome basket’ to new mothers is something that was identified as a potential prototype for The Winnipeg Boldness Project to explore that could help to enhance a baby’s first year of life.


    After much research around the idea, the project has begun a small scale prototype for the baby basket in partnership with the North End Women’s Centre. Rather than preparing a standard basket with the same contents each time, our version of the basket offers customization options, so that mothers can pick and choose what they would like to receive up to a certain value. This provides a component of self-determination and ensures that the family receives exactly what they need. 


    So far, North End Women’s Centre has received 16 orders from families already engaged in services provided by partner agencies, and we anticipate that another 15 or so will be received before the end of the prototype. With the data and feedback received through this process further recommendations can be made in terms of scaling up these activities and looking for possible outlets to embed this program for sustainability.


    Further updates about the baby basket prototype are to come, so make sure to check our blog regularly for posts about this and other areas of The Winnipeg Boldness Project!




  • On March 15, 2017, we held an event at our office to celebrate the completion of our newest art project, a community star blanket.


    The art piece was an idea thought-up by the Project’s Parent Guide Group - a group of parents and caregivers living in the North End. They wanted to create a traditional Indigenous star blanket and have it decorated with art created by community residents from all around the Point Douglas neighbourhood area. 


    Submissions for the blanket were collected throughout 2016 by visiting different non-profit organizations and community events around Point Douglas. The group asked the question “What do we need in order to maintain healthy relationships with our partners, families, and community?” and what was created was a diverse mix of drawings and words that covered a variety of topics, both straight-forward and abstract. 


    These drawings were then scanned and turned into digital designs to be printed onto transfer paper and ironed onto the blanket. The result was an art piece that reflected the neighbourhood in which it was created - a diverse mix of contributions that came together to form one cohesive design.



    We were lucky enough to be honoured with a song by one of our students, Carla Kirkpatrick, and a teaching from Elder Cheryl Alexander, who provided the background and ceremonial meaning of the star blanket.


    She taught us that the idea of a star blanket holds many parallels to The Winnipeg Boldness Project, in that it symbolizes a child at the centre of the star with layers of people and systems around the child, keeping it safe. Each of the individual diamonds that makes up the star design represents a piece of knowledge that the child will learn throughout its lifetime. The 8 points of the star provide balance, with 2 points in each direction (North, South, East, and West) symbolizing our grandmothers and grandfathers, and day/night.



    Blankets can be a ceremonial gift as well, used to show respect and honour, which seems very appropriate for this purpose as it shows an immense respect for the North End community and the people living here, and demonstrates the strong community spirit and pride that its residents have for their home.



    The blanket will soon tour the city by being displayed at several community spaces for public viewing. If you’re interested in having the blanket displayed in your community space please send an email to info@winnipegboldness.ca to make arrangements.


    If you would like to see more photos from our event, visit our Facebook photo album here.


  • This year, The Winnipeg Boldness Project was able to take on several practicum students thanks to a new student supervisor position that was developed through a partnership with the University of Manitoba. The students have been a huge help with research activities and have learned many new skills along the way.

    One of our students, Sarah Cummings, has written a blog post to share a bit about her self, what she has learned here at Boldness, and why it's important to her:

    My name is Sarah Cummings, I am a University of Manitoba Social Work student, in my second year of the concentrated program. I am doing my practicum at The Winnipeg Boldness Project, where I work a lot on researching and reporting for the Boldness team.

    My interest in The Winnipeg Boldness Project stemmed from my previous research knowledge. I wanted a practicum that would be able to further strengthen these skills, and this placement was one of the only organizations that was presented as a research placement. As I learned more about The Project, I become interested in the work they were doing and the values they operated from. They operate from a child-centered model, which places the child at the center of the system, surrounded by other systems that impact the child, such as the parents and caregivers, extended family, communities, elders, infrastructures, and the environment. The child-centered model and community-driven approach resonated with me and my values and presented an opportunity to gain knowledge from a community-focused research lens. Learning about a community, from the community, outside of an institutional setting, allows better access to develop insight into the deep wisdoms and strengths present within. It allows me to take a step back and view the community outside systems that can often view the community only in terms of the policies the organizations operate under.

    During my time here I’ve developed skills including research skills and interpersonal skills, making sure I am working for the community, and helping co-create initiatives and projects for the community. Research skills include things such as report writing, learning interviewing skills, and learning how to develop research questions. Although these skills are not directly used in the typical social work career, they are extremely transferable. For instance, report writing often needs to be short and without judgement, which looks similar to much of the case writing social workers would do. Additionally, interviewing skills in a research setting will transfer to activities such as case meetings, where social workers need to interview their client, and even their general ability to hold a conversation and come across as involved in the other.

    Due to The Winnipeg Boldness Project’s research-focused nature, social work theories are integrated into the everyday work that I do. The child-centered model operates on a similar level to ecological theory, which places the individual at the center, surrounded by the systems that effect it. Ecological theory has been a leading theory in social work for many years and looks at the individual’s circumstances as a result of the environment and systems surrounding it. Theories often blame the individual for deficits and do not take into account larger environmental and historical factors. In essence, they blame the individual for their circumstances. Ecological theory moves away from victim-blaming, and shows the effect larger barriers have on the individual.

    Diagram: Ecological theory (right) VS Winnipeg Boldness Child Centred Model (left).

    The child-centered model that The Winnipeg Boldness Project operates from replicates this belief and looks at the individuals in the North End, as well as the problems present in the community, and instead of blaming the individual or their parents, it looks at their circumstances, the histories of Indigenous peoples in Canada, the continuation of colonization, the everyday racism and discrimination they face, etc., and attempts to remove the barriers by asking the community what they need and want.

    This practicum is a unique practicum that provides me with a lot of training that is highly transferable to my future social work career and allows me the insight that other placements would likely not offer. 


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