Gwekaanimad means “the wind changes direction” in Anishinaabe. In addition, it’s a partnership of organizations with two different initiatives that support families in Winnipeg’s North End community; Granny’s House and Community Helpers Initiative. Gwekaanimad’s five partners are working toward the same goal, keeping families together. The partnership includes Blue Thunderbird Family Care, Andrews Street Family Centre, Wahbung Abinoonjiiag Inc., Mount Carmel Clinic and The Winnipeg Boldness Project.
Granny’s House is led by Blue Thunderbird Family Care and provides temporary support services for parents, caregivers and families. It is aimed at keeping families together and preventing children from entering the Child and Family Services (CFS) system. To do this, it offers respite services and care when families need it.
The reasons for using the service range from needing time to attend personal appointments or issues, to emergency drop-offs due to unexpected challenges/incidents in the home.
This initiative was developed because the Point Douglas community expressed needing more 24-hour supports that are safe for children, comfortable for families, and prevent children going into care (CFS).
Granny’s House is a judgement free zone that puts children at the forefront of all situations. It is a support system where an elder/granny and aunties (support workers) show the same type of loving care to the child that their maternal relatives would provide.
COVID-19 has posed some new challenges. Granny’s House is now operating on an appointment-only basis to ensure it follows current health orders. However, it hopes to soon be back to its original format where appointments are not needed and runs with more of a drop-in system in mind. In addition to this, Granny’s House also accepts referrals from the other Gwekaanimad partners.
Although Granny’s House is a pilot program, “our hope is that it will provide evidence that more resources like Granny’s House need to exist and that community-led, preventative supports are necessary to increase family togetherness in the North End.”
Community Helpers Initiative
The second initiative under Gwekaanimad is the Community Helpers Initiative (CHI), which launched in late October 2020. It is designed to further improve upon and deliver an accessible, 24/7 on-call service for families experiencing challenges and crisis’ in the Point Douglas community.
Two local organizations will be leading the implementation of this initiative: Wahbung Abinoonjiiag Inc. and Andrews Street Family Centre. Wahbung Abinoonjiiag will manage the 24/7 on-call service, as it already has experience with this type of operation. Calls are received by trained/knowledgeable volunteers who then assess if the support requested can be resolved immediately by them (if afterhours) or if it can wait until the following day when a Community Helper is available and other resources and supports are more accessible.
Similar to Granny’s House, COVID-19 impacted this project, but has provided all involved with an opportunity to spend further time developing it to the fullest possibility for success.
Gwekaanimad aims to increase togetherness and connection for families and ensure supports and resources are easily accessible to help them thrive as a family unit. Further, each of the Gwekaanimad partners are supporting these initiatives in a multitude of ways within their own organizations.
To learn more about the organizations involved in the Gwekaanimad project visit their websites:
Blue Thunderbird Family Care