Get to know our Spirit Award finalists: Non-Profit and Social Enterprise

February 16, 2017
​Ahead of the 8th Annual Spirit of Winnipeg Awards on March 10, we’re giving you a closer look at how the finalists in each category are impacting our city. Today’s category: Non-Profit and Social Enterprise.

The Non-Profit and Social Enterprise category recognizes the efforts of social innovators driven to solve complex socio-economic challenges.

Tell us about your organization.
Mother Earth Recycling is an Indigenous Social Enterprise that operates multiple recycling programs as a tool to provide training and employment opportunities to the aboriginal community. The goal of MER is to provide meaningful training and to help open job opportunities for the people of the community through environmentally sustainable initiatives.
The National Screen Institute – Canada (NSI) is a charitable, not-for-profit organization headquartered in Winnipeg. We are the only national training school based in Western Canada for writers, directors and producers working in film, television and digital media. ​We’ve been training storytellers for 30 years and we’re the oldest training school of its kind in the country.
The University of Winnipeg is located in Treaty One Territory and the Heart of the Métis Nation in the core of Winnipeg, Manitoba. A dynamic campus and downtown hub, The University of Winnipeg connects people from diverse cultures, nurtures global citizens, and takes its commitment to being a good neighbor and community partner seriously.
Who do you help with what you do?
Directly, MER helps the employees they train and staff. On a broader scope, MER helps the entire community of Winnipeg by helping people get off of social assistance and find employment. Through the recycling process, MER helps the entire community of Winnipeg by diverting tonnes of recyclable materials from overfilling landfills.
​NSI helps emerging and mid-level content creators (writers, directors and producers) by offering market-driven training programs which have led to employment and successful careers by giving grads a competitive edge. We offer a dedicated stream of programming for Indigenous content creators that takes place in Winnipeg.
​The Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre is centrally located in the inner city of Winnipeg that serves a very high population of Indigenous community members that face many social and economic issues. The neighbourhood surrounding The University of Winnipeg is comprised primarily of First Nations, Metis and new Canadian families, the fastest growing populations in Manitoba.  Within 10 years, it is estimated that 25 per cent of all of the children in Manitoba will be First Nations or Metis.
Describe a moment where you realized you made a difference.
When one of our trainees felt bad for leaving because he loved being at MER, but he had found full time employment that paid significantly more, and has a future to grow in. He genuinely wanted to stay, and we wanted him to stay, but we were all so happy to hear that he got this job that we didn’t even flinch at the loss we would feel without him every day.
Meeting up with grads at festivals and industry events and hearing how our training has helped them get where they are is always a great reminder that what we do is effective. We also have a significant and growing number of graduates who return as NSI program faculty, creating a productive circle of talent and teaching that benefits grads and students at multiple stages in their careers.
We are just starting to see the first wave of students who have moved through our Community Learning Programs graduate and move on to post-secondary education. Last year we had a graduate from our Model School Program graduate high school with over $3500 of tuition accumulated through our Tuition Credit Program of the Opportunity Fund. We have no doubt these incredible young people are just starting to make their mark on Winnipeg, Manitoba and the world.
For more information on our Spirit Award finalists and to buy tickets, click here.