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A day of learning in the inner city

January 26, 2024

5 minute read
Post Contributed by Anas Orwani, Business Systems Analysis Senior Manager, NTT Data
Leadership Winnipeg Class of 2023-2024

Despite the extreme cold weather, we had a great day roaming around the inner city of Winnipeg. Everyone was looking forward to having our first meeting of 2024. Being Winnipeggers, each member seems to be prepared by bringing in thick coats, snow gloves and hats with a few scarfs.

Everyone boarded the bus early in the morning, and we had our first stop at the Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet) Centre which is a social enterprise that connects people and ideas for action to build local economies that strengthen communities and benefit everyone. The building was super busy despite out early morning arrival time. We had a couple of sessions to introduce the concept of the social enterprise and to showcase the working groups. Sessions were facilitated by Michael Barkman who is the Manitoba Network Manager that focuses on leveraging members and government relationships. One of the main takeaways for me was that a social enterprise is basically a disruptive scalable business model somewhere between a non-profit and a profitable business.

Here is a list of the social enterprises we have met:

  • Aki Energy/Aki Foods which is an Indigenous non-profit social enterprise focused on developing healthy food-based projects that promote employment opportunities and economic development in First Nations communities.
  • Purpose Construction which combines social housing development and rehabilitation with trades training and employment run for underrepresented people.
  • LITE (Local Investment Toward Employment) which helps to create job opportunities for people struggling against barriers to employment to ensure positive job experiences, lives, and improved communities.
  • BUILD Inc which provides a six-week in-class training programs for people who face barriers to employment in carpentry.
  • SPARK which matches organizations working on critical issues in Winnipeg with people wanting to donate their professional skills for social good.

Just before noon time, we boarded the bus again, moving to North End Women’s Centre (NEWC) where we had the opportunity to look at the initiatives this community has like the transitional housing, parenting programs, counselling, and thrift store. After getting our nice lunch, we had a presentation session by Susan Berthiaume, the special project coordinator who briefed us about the centre strategy and plans. Then, we had a quick site visit to the transitional housing and I was impressed with the level of service and quality of life provided to residents. Next, we walked along Selkirk Avenue to the Urban Circle Training Centre and Makoonsag Intergenerational Children’s Centre where we had presentations and tours for both the centres.

When looking at my watch, I could hardly believe that it was 3:45 p.m. already.  Time passed so quickly and to me it was a rich day in leadership and volunteering experience. It was so motivational to learn about how these initiatives are not only leaning on governmental and donors funding but also trying to uncover and innovate ways to recycle the resources they have to get more value to their community and partially self fund the initiatives they envision.

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