We have been holding in this exciting news for what seems like a long time, and we’re so excited to finally be able to share it! As you may have seen on social media, we celebrated the opening of Granny’s House (AKA Kookum’s House) yesterday and we’re just bursting with happiness and gratitude for this huge commitment from the Manitoba Government to help support an innovative, new family resource.
Granny’s House is a literal house in the North End that will provide a place for parents to drop their kids off when they need some support or a bit of time to themselves, whether this be due to stress, illness, or if they just need to get some errands done. Many of our families include multiple children, and it can be very difficult to do things like grocery shopping or appointments when you have several kids in tow. The idea is that Granny’s House will have the feel of dropping your children off at your kookum’s house for the afternoon – a place that is safe, warm, and comfortable.
The ultimate goal behind providing this program is to support families in a community-centred way, in order to work towards a larger outcome of helping to reduce the number of children who are coming into the care of Child and Family Services (CFS). There are potentially a number of families who might be able to avoid getting involved with the CFS system if they were provided appropriate resources when they’re needed most. We hope that Granny’s House can be that to the community – a place to find some trusted care and support in a setting that is culturally safe and family-centred.
Granny’s House is an initiative led by Gwekaanimad – a collaborative that includes several organizations based in the North End including: Andrews Street Family Centre, Blue Thunderbird Family Care, Mount Carmel Clinic, Wahbung Abinoonjiiag, and The Winnipeg Boldness Project. The house itself will be run by Blue Thunderbird Family Care, and Gwekaanimad—an Ojibwe word meaning “the wind changes directions”— will provide referrals, promote the initiative, and provide guidance and support throughout this process.
Our hope is that this pilot program will provide evidence that more resources such as this need to exist, and that community-led, preventative supports are necessary to increase family togetherness in the North End.
If you want to learn more about Granny’s House, listen to #wpgboldness project director, Diane Roussin, talk about what it is and how it works on CBC Radio by clicking here.
It’s time for our annual tradition of recapping our favourite moments of the past year! It’s hard to believe that six years have passed since The Winnipeg Boldness Project began. It seems like just yesterday we were asking ourselves “… what the heck is a social lab?!”
We have accomplished a lot over the years, and 2019 was no different; it was filled with scaling and reporting, and some new prototype development as well! Read on to find out what moments stuck out for our staff members throughout this past year.
We had the opportunity to watch this initiative develop from the ground up, as we worked with Wiijii’idiwag Ikwewag (formerly known as the Manitoba Indigenous Doula Initiative) to support them in running their first training back in 2017. This is a really great opportunity for a community-led initiative to effect systemic change in the child welfare system, and the fact that it’s completely based in Indigenous knowledges is certainly something to be excited about.
Social Innovation Canada – Manitoba Hub
Learning about social innovation and social lab tools was certainly a new experience for our team when The Winnipeg Boldness Project first began. We’re now entering into our seventh year of development and it’s funny because we’re now often looked to for guidance by other labs since we’re now one of the longest running labs, not only in Manitoba but also nationally. Working with Social Innovation Canada to develop a hub in Manitoba for social innovation work has made us feel a lot more connected to our local partners doing similar work to ours, and has helped to build more resources related to this field of work in our city.
SG/PGG Joint Meetings
At the request of our Parent Guide Group, we brought our Stewardship Group (our version of a board of directors) and our Parent Guide Group together for a joint meeting at the beginning of the year. I think both groups really benefitted from having a venue to learn from one another, and it was a learning for our team that there’s great value in creating opportunities for collaborative learning between our stakeholders. We have continued to bring these groups together on a regular basis moving forward.
Prototype Document Creation
We continued with the process of documenting our prototype work this year with the help of Galen MacLusky from the Tamarack Institute. He has been instrumental in helping us to synthesize our vast research process into small, digestible documents, which is something that is essential for sharing the impact of our work. We now only have a few more documents to complete, which we’ll look at finishing up in 2020.
Dads Prototype Video
I was asked to help develop a video documenting our supports for dads prototype work by some of the dads that participated, because they wanted to share their stories in order to help other men who might be struggling. It took us about 3 months to complete all the interviews, filming, and editing, but the result was a really powerful message that really resonated with the community. We had a bunch of news outlets contacting us for stories, and the video was shared over 200 times on Facebook. I was really excited about the response that the video got, and I felt very lucky to have played a small part in sharing the mens’ stories in order to bring more awareness to this issue.
Indigenous Learning Circle – Social Enterprise Development
The Indigenous Learning Circle was able to secure a grant from Social Enterprise Manitoba to help them complete some business planning activities, along with business coaching sessions. ILC has long talked about developing a social enterprise model to help make their cultural knowledge work more sustainable, and we were able to take some big steps forward this year including the development of a business model canvas – a framework for the details of our social enterprise activities.
New Winnipeg Boldness Website Launch
We spent about 6+ months in 2018 overhauling our website, including a complete redesign of the functionality, appearance, and organization of information, and we finally launched the new site at the beginning of 2019. I was really excited to share a lot of the new interactive features such as the social media feed on the front page, and the research tool that allows us to upload our research documents for user download. We’ve received a lot of really great feedback about the new site throughout the year, and it’s really helped us to make the project’s work more transparent and accessible.
Engineering Change Lab Workshop
We participated in a workshop hosted by the University of Manitoba in partnership with the Engineering Change Lab about using social lab processes in the engineering technology field. It was really interesting to see the processes we use in our social innovation work applied in an entirely different field. To be part of the conversation around how things like technology and buildings are designed in the every day world was important and a new experience for us.
We often hold events to allow time for Indigenous ceremony in order to come together with our partners and take care of our spirit. I found this pipe ceremony in particular to be a very emotion-filled event that stood out as one of my most important memories of 2019.
Sage Picking at Spruce Woods
We try to make time for things like sage picking throughout the year, as it helps us stay energized in our work and simultaneously replenishes our stock of medicines that we keep at the office. This was just a lovely day – it’s always nice getting out of the office and picking sage with other women and having laughs.
My practicum at The Winnipeg Boldness Project was an amazing experience that provided multiple opportunities for practical use of my skills learned in the community development program at Red River College. I spent most of my time researching and learning about topics such as the Province of Manitoba’s Early Childhood Indicator (EDI) and the North End Wellbeing Measure (NEWM) – a community-grounded evaluation tool created by the project itself. I was able to attend meetings and planning sessions, observing how Boldness engages stakeholders and interacts with community. By the end of my practicum I was collaborating with a department at The University of Winnipeg on an article to be published.
During my time at Boldness I learned about social innovation and how it is intertwined with community development practices. Research and development is a foundational part of social innovation, as it can aid organizations to better adjust, improve, grow, and evaluate themselves and their work.
The framework of the bottom-up approach we base everything off in community development is mirrored in the Child Centred Model – the project’s theory of change, which is at the heart of Boldness’ work. I also learned about scaling, a term I had not yet come across in my studies. After prototyping or testing an idea, if found to be successful or potentially impactful, the idea is then scaled up in size. Using this approach to grow an idea, prototype, business or initiative can be a valuable tool for community development.
The most valuable thing I learned was how most people and the media focus on the negative experiences that people have gone through and deal with. While it is important to acknowledge what has happened, focus can be shifted to look at all that Indigenous people have accomplished and how they continue to rise up. There are multiple examples of Indigenous people showing resistance, resurgence, and reclamation across the generations. Shifting the focus is a strength-based action that I hope becomes a cultural shift. I hope to promote this shift in my ways of being and doing in all my future endeavors.
Through my experience at the project, I found a lot of what I learned related to my studies of community development. Aboriginal History taught me about colonization and how it affects legislation, structure, policies and the lives of people today. This understanding is necessary when you are working with Indigenous communities. In our Healthy Communities class, we learned about the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Calls to Action and how to implement them. We even touched on how reconciliation is not the only story and how we need to address decolonization and resurgence as well.
Traditional Indigenous teachings on campus started me on my personal journey towards cultural proficiency. I got to see how this journey relates to the Child Centered Model; it incorporates knowledge and understanding of history, enabling families to reach their full potential, and incorporating the values and attributes of the model into all actions.
On the more technical side of things, our Social Marketing class introduced me to quantitative and qualitative data collection and presentation. This method of analysis and continued evaluation was used to demonstrate the progress of programs and how outcomes are being reached throughout reports from organizations. Understanding how data is gathered and presented aided me in every part of my research. When I was relating school readiness to other societal indicators, I found that EDI scores can be used in association with gross domestic product (GDP) to compare statistics on education levels, school enrollment, and income; I see now how economics is worth learning after all.
Finally, the class Participatory Processes, taught me most of what I needed for my practicum, in order to know how to include the voices of those directly impacted in the whole journey, from designing interventions and throughout implementation and evaluation.
I would like to thank The Winnipeg Boldness project for hosting my practicum placement. I was provided with a chance to implement what I’ve learned and show what I can accomplish. I would also like to thank the Red River College School of Indigenous Education for creating the opportunity to obtain real world experience in community development.
We recognized early on in the project that there was a lack of community-based evaluation tools to be utilized when researching early childhood development in the North End. We talked a lot about the concept of wellbeing and health, but we wondered what the word wellbeing actually meant and how that definition would differ depending on the community in focus. Would the definition of wellbeing in the North End look the same as the definition of wellbeing in other areas of the city? Or would other communities prioritize different values and markers?
The Winnipeg Boldness Project set out to create a tool to measure child and family wellbeing, not from the perspective of an outside researcher, but from a wholistic community defined definition of wellbeing. In partnership with the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba, the North End Wellbeing Measure was developed by using community input and existing surveys that have been used with northern reserve communities.
Our first test of this measurement tool was implemented with 191 caregivers and 367 children. We have compiled the data from this first test run, and we’re now seeking input from community residents living in the North End. We’ve been told that too often researchers analyze and make assumptions regarding the data they gather without first allowing community to sit with the data themselves. So, we want to make sure to provide an opportunity for community to take a look at the report and provide their thoughts and input.
We welcome anyone living in the North End of Winnipeg to take a look at the NEWM results document and provide feedback.
One of the activity areas that we’re currently developing further is the Supports for Dads prototype, which was created with the goal of responding to a gap in services for a particular demographic of men who are experiencing significant barriers. Our society’s social policies have been formed in a way that has not prioritized family togetherness and so often we see that men are excluded from their own families due to systemic barriers. This means that they have a more difficult time accessing the supports and resources they require such as housing, health, and even parenting programs designed for men.
Through our research we learned that men wanted more opportunities to connect with one another in a supportive and culturally safe environment. By teaming up with the North Point Douglas Women’s Centre and Mitch Bourbonniere’s team of qualified facilitators, we were able to test out this idea and saw a very positive response. Now this idea is being prototyped at a larger scale, thanks to funding from the Government of Canada, so we’ve hired a coordinator, Lee Spence, to help facilitate the growth of this activity area.
Lee has shared some of the learnings and impact that she has taken away from this experience so far:
We’ve been very lucky to further develop and scale our Supports for Dads prototype alongside three dedicated community partner organizations: Mount Carmel Clinic, North Point Douglas Women’s Centre, and Andrew’s Street Family Centre. Each of these organizations are providing space for men to meet one another, eat delicious food, laugh and talk, build their skills, and learn about resources for themselves and their families. Through these activities, men have an opportunity to access cultural ceremonies and sit in circle to nourish their spirit.
The Supports for Dads prototype is really demonstrating how allowing space for men to heal themselves and support others in a group setting is needed within our community. The men who attend have expressed how important these circles are in helping them to voice their feelings and thoughts in a non-judgemental environment with other men.
We’ve learned how valuable it is for men to lead other men and create opportunities to participate in ceremony. This has been pivotal in their healing journeys, and we have found that when men have space to heal themselves it creates a ripple effect with their families and communities.
The most impactful moment I’ve experienced during this process was when I sat in a circle with twenty men who shared openly about their experiences with trauma, allowing themselves to cry and show emotion in a comfortable and safe circle. It was beautiful witnessing men feel loved and supported by one another. The rawness and realness of this experience was life changing for me, and I was honoured to be invited into the circle. I was very moved by seeing and hearing men share how they have changed their path in life to better themselves, to the point where they can now give back to others and mentor youth in the community.