Supports for Dads Video

Recently we shared a new video entitled ’Supporting Dads in the North End’ and we wanted to share a bit about why we made the film and how the process went. It was one of our most time consuming video shoots to date, but it was also one of the most rewarding and impactful as well, as it told an important story that resonated with a lot of people in the community.

The idea for the film came up organically, which I think is one of the best things about it. Some of the men in the Mount Carmel Clinic men’s group had asked the facilitators and coordinator if they could record their stories somehow, as they had an interest in sharing their learnings with other men who might be struggling or looking for support. When the Supports for Dads coordinator approached me about the possibility of helping making a video, it was an easy ‘yes’ since the project already had a camera and had made videos in the past, so it would be an easy thing to do. 

Then it occurred to us – why not take it a step further? There were lots of other men who would likely want to contribute as well – why not share the whole story of this prototype? We decided that we would interview at least one participant from each of the three men’s groups, as well as the facilitators of each group, in order to capture a well-rounded sampling of the group’s experience throughout the 3-month program. We also interviewed the coordinator of the Supports for Dads prototype, and the project director of The Winnipeg Boldness Project, in order to provide background and context to the story.

We shot the video and edited it all together over the course of about 4 months. It was one of the most extensive shoots, as we filmed 11 separate interviews and lots of other footage, at 6 different locations (we also had some extra footage from past events in the North End that was included as well). While it was hard work, we were very motivated by the stories that the men were sharing. Hearing outcomes such as families being reunited and men feeling connected to one another really made us inspired to get the word out there about the impact that this type of work was having on the community.

Overall, the goal of this film was to not only share the men’s stories, but to also share the ripple effect that programs like this have on a person’s family and most importantly, their children. There is huge potential to have a significant impact on families and children in the North End by listening to the community and identifying gaps in resources like this one. Ultimately, we want to show policy-makers that there is a better way to do things, and that it starts with the child-centred model – putting the child at the centre of all decisions that are made regarding families, and looking at their eco-system from a wholistic perspective, rather than trying to silo resources and programming. As we learned from the video, healing work has to be done as a family unit and in a wholistic way in order for it to be effective and lasting. Therefore, parenting and family resources should always involve the whole family, and be flexible to include whomever might be a part of each individual family unit, not just the nuclear family.

We’re very grateful to have been a part of supporting these men and helping them to tell their stories. A big thank you to everyone who helped to make this video possible, including the Government of Canada, Andrews Street Family Centre, Mount Carmel Clinic, North Point Douglas Women’s Centre, Mitch Bourbonniere’s team, the facilitators, coordinator, evaluators, and of course, the men themselves! 

If you haven’t seen the video yet and you want to watch it, you can find it on YouTube here or watch below. Don’t forget to share it, like it, and subscribe to our channel in order to receive updates on any future videos as well.


Guest Contributor: Lee Spence – Supports for Dads Update

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.