The Blog

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

Gwekaanimad – “The Wind Changes Direction”

November 10, 2020


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

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:

Mount Carmel Clinic

Andrews Street Family Centre

Wahbung Abinoonjiiag

Blue Thunderbird Family Care

The Winnipeg Boldness Project


For additional information related to Granny’s House check out:

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.