The Blog

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

Baby Basket

June 20, 2017

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!

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.