The Blog

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

Guest Contributor – Katherine Rempel (RRC Student Practicum)

December 17, 2019

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.

– Katherine Rempel

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.