The PROFile

Dr. Jim Silver

Photo by Simeon Rusnak

Professor and chair, Department of Urban and Inner-City Sutdies


For Dr. Jim Silver, a professor and chair of the urban and inner-city studies program at the University of Winnipeg, the nature of poverty in Winnipeg’s North End is often misunderstood – but positive developments in the area are happening.

“The poverty there is deep and complex, multi-faceted, and probably worse than most people realize. But almost by way of contradiction, there are some terrific things going on – Winnipeg’s inner city is probably a leader in Canada in anti-poverty initiatives of a wide variety of kinds.”

“Young indigenous people are really becoming active and doing some terrific, creative things,” Silver says. 

He cites projects like Red Rising Magazine and Meet Me at the Bell Tower as indigenous-led projects that are dynamic, creative and enacting real change. 

“That’s something that I think we’re seeing the front edges of. That’s really important for Winnipeg’s future.”

“There’s an alternative education hub that’s emerged there on Selkirk Avenue with the U of M’s inner city social work, and the Urban Circle Training Centre and our department. The next step is Merchants Corner, which will be a marvelous contribution to the revitalization of Selkirk Avenue. I hope that Merchants Corner might become a little bit of a hub in itself for the indigenous revival that I think is going on.”

And when the community gets together to figure out what works for them, for Silver, positive changes follow. 

“The community getting together to figure out what kinds of things ought to be done and government investing in those things – when you put those two things happening we can do good things.”

Dr. Silver will launch his latest book, Solving Poverty: Innovative Strategies from Winnipeg’s Inner City, on Thurs., April 7 at 7 p.m. at McNally Robinson Booksellers.


AREA OF RESEARCH: Urban poverty, anti-poverty strategies. 


LOWEST GRADE IN UNIVERSITY: Intro to statistics. At tops it was a C.


WORST TEACHING MOMENT: My very first moment in front of a class. I was in Nigeria. It was 1971, and I knew that I should engage the students and ask them questions. A student stood up, he responded, and his accent was thick and I couldn’t understand him. I asked him to repeat and I still couldn’t understand. It was a panicky moment. 


BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Fiction: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. Non-fiction: Edward Baptiste, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism.

Published in Volume 70, Number 25 of The Uniter (March 24, 2016)

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