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Hidden Gems of the Inner City of Winnipeg

February 1, 2024

4 minute read
Post Contributed by Javed Tank, Global Quality Systems Manager, MARS Food 
Leadership Winnipeg Class of 2023-2024


This is winter 2024, and it was a great experience to visit a variety of hidden gems in the inner city of Winnipeg. We started our class with a coffee at the Social Enterprise Centre located at 765 Main Street. We were hosted by multiple leaders of the companies situated at SEC. Sessions started with Shaun Loney, a senior partner at Encompass Co-op. He shared a fascinating story about how SEC started, how it was a disrupting non-profit business model, their visions and goals for the future and how SEC is making a difference in the lives of more than 400 people of Winnipeg with criminal records. Over the years it has helped Winnipeg Police operations and community as a whole. He also works with Aki Energy to install water pumps which offers many socio-economical benefits in First Nations.

We also had the opportunity to learn and understand challenges as well as opportunities in the construction industry. We then had a meeting with Kalen Taylor at Purpose Construction, a social business non-profit contractor that offers job to barriers-averse individuals. Purpose Construction aims to create a Winnipeg where low-income housing costs are manageable, and occupants have steady jobs that provide for their families.

We also leaned about LITE (Local Investment Toward Employment), from Ian Rountree. It’s an entrepreneurial and philanthropic foundation that supports local job creation and fund raising. LITE provides funding to community groups in the most impoverished areas of Winnipeg so they can design work experiences that can be customized in terms of duration and timing. These grants also assist community organizations in involving the local population.

At SEC, we met Michael Barkman who took us through various concepts like CED Network, Social Procurement, Neechi CED Principles etc.

After 3 hours of great sessions at SEC, we moved to Mother Earth Recycling, a social enterprise that is entirely owned and controlled by the Indigenous community. It offers distinctive and dependable recycling services and also generates employment and training possibilities for the community. We were shown throughout the facility, which has a front-facing store open for business where cheap used computers and electronics can be purchased, as well as a place where mattresses and electronics can be dropped off for recycling.

In the afternoon we arrived at NEWC, where all of us shared a warm lunch with a fascinating story about how and why NEWC exists. Established in 1984, NEWC is the longest running women’s resource centre in Winnipeg’s inner city. The North End Women’s Resource Centre opened in April 1985. NEWC offers a variety of services for women who need support in Winnipeg, be it safe accommodation, food or clothing needs. They also provide guidance and support to new immigrant women from countries like Sudan or Afghanistan. We ended our visit at their famous purple door UpShoppe, a thrift store at 382 Selkirk Ave.

Our day concluded at the Urban Circle Training Centre, which offers Winnipeg’s First Nations, Metis, and Inuit women and men culturally relevant education and training. The center offers accredited programming that addresses the needs of the labor market as well as our cultural teachings.

Great talks from all the various individuals and organizations that wish to improve our city filled the entire day. Knowing that members of the community who encounter various obstacles can get in touch with these groups, which have the power to significantly improve people’s lives both immediately and over time, was incredibly encouraging.

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