The Blog

Follow along as we work towards systems change and help create better outcomes for kids in our community.

A Strength-Based Narrative for the North End of Winnipeg

August 27, 2014

I see it all too often when the North End is in the media: a video frame of a chain-link fence followed by a couple of police cars with lights flashing and maybe a shot of someone getting arrested, or police caution tape wrapped around some light poles.

For some, this is the only North End that they know of, the North End as portrayed through the media and social platforms. For the vast majority of us who live, work, and play here, however, this is not the North End that we know and love.

For many of us, the North End is a place that we hold fondly in our hearts; a place where we grew up, where we’ve worked the past 5, 10, 20 years, and where we love to be. It’s a place like no other with a sense of community and generosity that is unique.

That’s not to say that the North End is without its flaws. Like any other community, this neighbourhood sees its fair share of crime, poverty, and conflict. The problem is that these negatives are largely the only part of the North End that gets any attention by the media, and even when the heartwarming stories are reported on they’re almost always framed as positives in light of the current negatives: this community event happened in spite of recent shootings, this street festival is held as a response to recent tragedy, etc.

Recognizing that community pride is a large factor in the healthy development of babies, one of the goals of the Winnipeg Boldness Project is to create and publicize a strength-based narrative for the North End of Winnipeg; one that already exists in this community, but is often overlooked.

We plan on doing this primarily through video with an emphasis on interviews and storytelling. We know that every person has a story and every story contributes to a deeper understanding of the why and how of the world.  We intend to document and share these stories because we believe that there is huge value in storytelling, and that the story of the North End is not one that is filled with sadness and despair, but rather resilience and a sense of community whose flame cannot be extinguished even by the strongest of winds and the largest of waves.

Land Acknowledgement

The Winnipeg Boldness Project resides in and works on the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary lands of the Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe), Anishinabewaki (Oji-Cree), Dené, Michif Piyii (Métis), Nêhiyawak (Cree), and Očhéthi Sakowin (Dakota). We recognize that we have benefited from and continue to benefit from colonization on the Treaty 1, Treaty 3, and Treaty 5 Territories.

It is important to also acknowledge how we benefit in this territory at the cost to Indigenous Peoples. Winnipeg has been drinking clean water for over a century via an aqueduct from Shoal Lake. In 1917, 3000 acres of Treaty 3 was declared property of the city of Winnipeg to build the aqueduct. This aqueduct was built over ancestral burial ground, to build these structures, the ancestors were disinterred and reburied. Construction of the aqueduct changed the waters significantly, causing the peninsula to become a man-made island. This now isolated Nation faced many challenges as a direct result from this aqueduct; Necessities like water, groceries, schools, and mail were only accessible via the dangerous trek to the mainland. Lives of adults and children were lost crossing to and from the mainland. Freedom Road, an all-weather road access finally opened summer 2019, over a century after displacement. This road, a testament to the success of Indigenous-led solutions, helps bring materials to build schools and a water treatment plant.

“I always think of it, even when I turn on the tap I’m like this comes from our community and this water probably contains our ancestors and the spirits of our ancestor. I think about the hardships of the people from Shoal Lake 40 who have gone through so many things for the benefit of Winnipeg’s drinking water,” says Angelina McLeod.1

Another benefit we reap in Winnipeg at a cost to Indigenous Peoples and land is the Hydro Electricity Development in Treaty 5. To optimize water movement for greatest power production the Province of Manitoba increased waterflow by creating the Churchill River Diversion in 1976. The modification of the waterflow caused flooding, shoreline erosion, and changes to water quality. This destruction of habitat has caused disruption to waterway travel, fishing, and hunting.