How Winnipeg’s social enterprises weave a people-serving network

January 24, 2018
Every month, we ask different participants of our Leadership Winnipeg class to blog about their experience…
Most of you have probably heard the expression “they drank the kool-aid” to describe a group of people who share a philosophy or are on board with a certain set of values. Well, whatever kool-aid they are drinking over at the Social Enterprise Centre, it’s one the rest of Winnipeg needs to taste.
The Social Enterprise Centre (SEC) is an old CPR post office building at 765 Main Street, tucked between Sutherland Avenue and the tracks. It is home to variety of organizations in the non-profit and social enterprise fields. Our Leadership Winnipeg team was lucky enough to spend last Friday morning there hearing from six of these groups.
Although they all serve different purposes or have different mandates, it is apparent right away how connected they are and how important their individual work is to the bigger picture.

Picture

On the surface, organizations like LITEhelp low income folks find jobs, while BUILD provides training in trades and life skills for those facing multiple barriers to employment. Manitoba Green Retrofit provides supportive employment opportunities for people with a lot of those same barriers, and MITT Youthbuild helps train youth for those same opportunities from a younger age. CCPA Manitoba works on policy and advocacy that helps these groups be able to do what they do, and CCEDNET Manitoba provides them with opportunities to network, collaborate and celebrate.

But at the core, what all these organizations really do is help people. And the passion and drive with which they do it is extremely powerful and palpable – it’s what’s turned this big cold warehouse building into a surprisingly warm and inviting place to be.

PictureThe rest of our day also highlighted the importance of space – and just how meaningful it can be for people to have a place to go, to meet, and to learn in their community.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch of bannock tacos at Neechi Commons, a worker-owned cooperative with a grocery store, bakery, restaurant, art gallery and more.  They opened their doors at 865 Main Street in 2013, and they are one of the best examples of intentional space-making in the city. If you don’t know their story, you should.

Our group then headed down Selkirk Avenue to meet at Urban Circle Training Centre, an education and training hub for indigenous students that incorporates cultural teachings in a supportive environment. Both the location and the building design were critical to developing a place that met the needs of the community, and staff members Haven Stumpf and Patti Wandowich shared their own personal stories that highlighted the importance of the centre in their own journeys.

As Leadership Winnipeg participants, one of our projects this year involves interviewing program alumni, and I’d like to quote one of my interviewees who said that their experience in the program taught them that Winnipeg is “full of quiet leaders doing good work”. I couldn’t agree more – and the leaders we heard from on this day were certainly proof of that. ​

Leadership Winnipeg is grateful for the support of our Vision Partners

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture