It’s February in Winnipeg. This means that, after what had so far been a mild winter, we’ve moved into the phase of winter that can be charitably described
as “inhospitably cold.”
Yesterday, I masked up and took an expedition to stock up on groceries. After a weekend that felt like a cold day at Echo Base, a wind chill in the low -30s seemed like a walk in the park. “This isn’t so bad,”
I sincerely thought to myself as my eyelashes froze together.
I’ve always prided myself on being comfortable with the cold. I have to admit, I’ve often harboured feelings of resentment toward friends who have moved from Winnipeg to warmer locales purely because of the climate.
A tweet or Facebook post along the lines of “Boy, I’m sure glad I’m not in Winnipeg today, lol!” from a recent Vancouverite would leave me stewing. Don’t these people understand that moving away from Winnipeg because of the cold isn’t something to brag about?! That just means they lost and Winnipeg won!
My whole life, I’ve been determined not to let Winnipeg win. I’ve always been able to handle the cold. If I find it a little chilly, even better. My natural state is “drinking coffee while wrapped in a wooly, cable-knit cardigan.” But these last few years, I have to admit, I’ve been starting to feel the cold in my bones. Even on a day when I don’t leave the house (which, recently, is most days), the inescapable chill seeps in.
Given this cold spell, it’s important to remember that many Winnipeggers don’t have the option to just stay inside or move to the warmer coasts. For the unsheltered, Winnipeg winters can quite literally be deadly. Here’s a friendly reminder that organizations like Main Street Project, Siloam Mission and United Way’s Koats for Kids all need donations of money, clothing and food in this bitter cold.
It is also an unfriendly reminder to any city councillors urging police to clear people experiencing homelessness from the warmth of bus shelters: go take a flying leap at a rolling doughnut.
Published in Volume 75, Number 18 of The Uniter (February 11, 2021)