Whether it’s recreation, shelter or education, these organizations are committed to making a difference in the future of the children in their community.
Where Euclid Avenue and Sutherland Avenue join in North Point Douglas, seven tree-like columns rise up from the ground. As you get closer you see the pillars are standing erect on the back of the shadow of a turtle embossed on the ground, representing Turtle Island—the First Nations name for North America. Each post represents one of the seven indigenous languages spoken in Manitoba: Cree, Dakota, Dene, Inuktitut, Michif, Ojibwe and Oji-Cree.
The striking outdoor art is just the beginning of a cultural reawakening for anyone drawn to them and entering the front door of the Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Education Centre.
Inside, Aboriginal elders and community leaders have helped build a collection of 11,000 books and videos and over 300 incredible artifacts. The art (paintings, drawings, sculptures and carvings), craft-work (baskets and beadwork), medicines, tools (arrowheads, scraping tools, fish hooks, axes and mallets), regalia, drums and clothing are all on display in museum-like perfection. It is believed to be the largest collection of material on Aboriginal research, history and culture in the province—much of it available on loan to any member of the public.
When you learn it is the only library for North Point Douglas, it becomes even more significant.
The centre’s Director, Dennis Daniels, says a lot of university students study at the centre, people take Aboriginal language classes and school kids from across the city come for tours. But what he’s most proud of is the role it can play in changing the lives of children in the neighbourhood.
“Our Community Connection program goes out into the community and does native awareness sessions on any aspect of Aboriginal culture. We run programs for the children in this area and whether it has to do with language, literacy, cooking, or learning about traditional medicines, hopefully by doing this we’ll get rid of a lot of the problems that exist. Those kids are our future,” Daniels says.
For Daniels, who accessed an ACU grant to help with the expansion of the centre’s library, the new ACU branch is an extension of a happy relationship. “I know that ACU is community minded—you see the ACU name on all sorts of things in this area. They are for the people,” he says.
Five minutes away on Selkirk Avenue, Tammy Christensen is fully aware of the problems Daniels talks about but is equally excited about what the future holds for those kids.
As Executive Director of Ndinawemaaganag Endaawaad Inc. (Ojibwe for ‘our relatives’ home’) Christensen and her team provide shelter, recreation and educational opportunities from four program sites including two residential programs, a training program and a Youth Resource Centre.
The Ndinawe Youth Resource Centre, located on Selkirk Avenue, provides youth a safe alternative to the streets and engages them in a variety of programs ranging from sports to arts and culture. It also provides for their basic needs by offering a hot meal every night. On average, the centre sees 50 to 75 youth between the ages of 13 and 24 each day.
While news stories portray a community rife with danger, Christensen says the revitalization of the area led by non-profit groups like Ndinawe tells a much different story. “We care about this area because it’s our community. The potential that kids have is incredible and we are accountable for our children.”
“We see the best things in our kids, just like any community does. We see a strong vibrant community growing here.”
Having worked for more than 15 years in social services in the North End, Christensen now sees kids she knew when they were little growing into young adults, getting an education and becoming employable.
“When you’re involved with kids and with the community, when you see smiles on their faces, when you see them laughing and safe, it’s very exciting. There’s a lot of reward in that. We know we’re making a difference, one child at a time.”
As for the accessible banking services ACU will offer, Christensen says it is part of the solution. “It absolutely makes a difference any time you see organizations and businesses getting involved in good change,” she says. “People here work hard for their money and when you live paycheque to paycheque, the payday-loan places are attractive, but that cycle means you can never get ahead. What ACU is doing is about access to banking and that’s been missing. With banking coming back, it will help to change the community.”
Back to McGregor Branch