Winnipeg’s North End is not only the home to many important and effective nonprofits, but it’s also a neighbourhood with a culture where these organizations frequently collaborate. One of the most recent manifestations of this culture of collaboration is I Heart the North End.
I Heart the North End (IHtNE) is a collaborative group made up of many of the non-profit organizations in the North End in addition to being open to the general public. The group began meeting in early March and has met every two weeks since.
The first meeting was held at Ma Mawi Chi Itata Centre, a family resource centre based in Indigenous understandings of family and support. Diane Redsky, the centre’s executive director and a member of the Aboriginal Envisioning Steering Committee, says collaboration between organizations based in the North End has risen in part because many organizations are providing services to the same families.
“They need us to be co-ordinated so that we are using the best resources and maximizing all of the opportunities to improve and enhance and deliver services to people in the North End,” she says.
“People need to know that the North End is oftentimes neglected by (government) funding,” she says. “Us coming together is a really important part of our advocacy.”
The next meeting is being hosted by the Ukranian Labour Temple.
Emily Halldorson, the vice-president of the Winnipeg branch of the Association of United Ukranian Centres, says while the temple was originally a space for Ukranian immigrants to gather, it also has had a hand in the history of labour organizing in the area.
She says many organizations in the North End have been collaborating for years, but IHtNE began specifically because of recent closures of North End organizations and community spaces, such as Neechi Commons.
IHtNE is also a space to highlight positive things happening in the community and make plans for future action.
Halldorson says she’s excited to highlight the renovations happening to the Ukranian Labour Temple that will make it more accessible for people with mobility limitations and better able to function as a community space for all.
Halldorson says part of the North End’s collaborative culture stems from how many people, both paid and volunteers, work on multiple initiatives.
She says she believes that collaboration “is the North End’s model, and that’s partly why some of these agencies are so successful in hosting such amazing events for community members and in getting people out to these things.”
“I mean there’s so many people who come out to community events in the North End, and I think part of it is just that it will be a collaboration of like, 10 organizations doing something. It really presents a picture that this is for everyone, because there’s so many people involved,” she says.
Redsky agrees this is a big part of the neighbourhood’s community strength.
“Any time you bring people together to organize, good things happen,” she says. “I’m looking forward to those partnerships and us working on initiatives together, because we’re only stronger together.”
Search for I Heart the North End on Facebook for more information.