The Blog

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

The Mask Project with The Royal Winnipeg Ballet

November 30, 2020


Back in June, we highlighted the Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) through a blog post about a new initiative that was sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, The Mask Project.


To date, the RWB has donated approx. 2,900 masks to organizations and partners in Winnipeg’s North End community. For many, this project has provided a sense of relief and comfort knowing that their community members and staff will be protected against this virus.


“It has greatly impacted the community in a positive way, as many of the low-income community members wouldn’t have had a mask to wear. We give each person two masks so they can wash one and wear the other” – North Point Douglas Women’s Centre


When wearing masks became mandatory in all indoor public places, a deep concern was felt in the community, knowing that many members would likely not have access to disposable or reusable masks.


“The masks that have been donated have impacted the community by providing protection for people who are vulnerable and unable to afford masks” – North End Women’s Centre


“The masks went very quickly as we are giving two out to each person. People are appreciative of the masks and we can never have enough as the need continues to grow, especially with the city going into code red” – North Point Douglas Women’s Centre


With each mask delivery, executive directors of the organizations in the community offered the RWB and Boldness team a brief tour and overview of their facilities. For an organization that holds the value of relationships at its core, this project shed light on an unfamiliar sector despite being located near the city centre.


“The Mask Project demonstrated the need to move our organization to improving our presence in the community and for us to build relationships beyond our traditional circles. This has been one of the most surprising and meaningful projects I have worked on and revealed to me the astonishing number of service organizations and social enterprises operating within Point Douglas and the North End” – Royal Winnipeg Ballet


The Mask Project has expanded beyond its initial purpose and the RWB has been able to connect with a number of community organizations, met through this initiative, and work with them to find other meaningful ways to support the community.


“One example is our exploration with BUILD Inc. about a paid work placement for some of their students at the RWB. We build scenic elements for our shows at our scenic facility which a few blocks away from BUILD Inc’s campus. We are also looking at ways to increase participation within our programs and attendance at our shows to families and individuals who may not have access. Working with community service organizations and social enterprises to identify these barriers and find community driven solutions will be crucial” – Royal Winnipeg Ballet


Click here for more information about the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.




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.