WINNIPEG, MB – The City of Winnipeg has problems. Working toward solutions in the city has become an increasingly importance focus of making for needed positive change.
The North End of Winnipeg, heading north from the historic intersection of Portage and Main, there has been a growing impetus for much of the needed positive change. One of the contrasts in Winnipeg to many communities is that the City has faced up to the problems they are encountering and are bridging toward solutions with solid activity and effort.
An exciting educational and community initiative is underway in Winnipeg’s North End and people can help support the transformation: A crowdfunding campaign is now live to fund community-based educational and cultural programs, language programs and youth social enterprise employment programs.
The 100-year-old Merchants Hotel, along with six adjoining city lots, has been transformed into 30 units of fully subsidized student housing, a community learning hub, and a community café.
Three separate educational programs will share the same space: The University of Winnipeg’s Department of Urban and Inner-City Studies will run university-level courses during the day; CEDA-Pathways to Education, a North End high school support program, will use the same classroom space in the evenings for its after-school tutoring and mentoring program; and the students in the Culinary Arts program at RB Russell, a North End high school, will run the community café as a social enterprise, gaining hands-on practical experience that will improve the likelihood of their finding employment after graduation.
All of this will take place in an area of the city where one in four students graduates high school on time.
In addition, community programming will be organized during the day and some evenings and weekends, and a community consultation process is currently underway to determine what kinds of educational and cultural programming residents in the North End community want. The facility will also serve as a safe indoor meeting place for local community groups, such as Meet Me at the Bell Tower – Stop the Violence.
The objective is to create an educational/cultural complex that is consistent with the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report.
Included in the programming plans are Oji-Cree language classes for pre-school children and their parents and grandparents that will be hosted at Merchants Corner.
“Language plays an integral role in understanding one’s own culture and heritage,” says Jim Silver, Chair of the Department of Urban and Inner-City Studies at The University of Winnipeg. “This family-focused learning environment is an excellent way to bring community and culture together in a manner that inspires pride and self-confidence. This is crucial, especially in early development years.”
Many other activities will be offered — depending upon the expressed interests of the community — alongside the three more formal educational programs. “We are creating an educational complex that will be unique in Canada, and that will be transformative in a neighbourhood that has had its fair share of challenges over the years,” adds Silver.
Approximately $15 million has been raised to cover the capital costs for the project in the form of generous contributions from the provincial government and a wide variety of foundations, corporations, and individuals. Merchants Corner is expected to open its doors in early November 2017.
The redevelopment project is managed by The University of Winnipeg Community Renewal Corporation.
Learn more about Merchants Corner.