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Visiting Social Enterprises in the Inner City

July 21, 2022

Post Contributed By: Krysta Wojtowicz, Johnston Group | Leadership Winnipeg Class of 2020-2022

On June 16, 2022 the theme of our Leadership Winnipeg session was ‘Social Enterprises & the Inner City.” Our first stop was to the Social Enterprise Centre at 765 Main Street. We were hosted by Dr. Tyler Pearce, the Executive Director of LITE (Local Investment Toward Employment) and given the opportunity to tour the building and hear from many of the amazing organizations that work within the renovated warehouse space. We learnt about the roots of social enterprises and how by working towards social progress, economic growth and environmental stewardship using the triple bottom line of “People, Plant & Profit” they bridge the gap between the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. It was a jam-packed morning full of inspiring speakers as we heard from; Aki Energy (Aki Foods), CCEDNET, BUILD Inc. (Building Urban Industries for Local Development) and The Link Youth and Family Supports. Amazing work done by all organizations, there was so much to reflect on and I couldn’t even hope to capture it all here!

We then walked over to Mother Earth Recycling where we were met by Jessica Floresco, Executive Director. Mother Earth Recycling is an Indigenous Social Enterprise that offers mattress, box springs, car seats and e-waste pickup and drop off from across Manitoba. Jessica took us through the storefront that sells all matter of electronics equipment; new, old, refurbished and repaired! While we toured around the rest of the facility she spoke about her staff and the work that they do to ensure that we as a community are recycling as much as we can and reducing waste wherever possible. By supporting employment, skill development and social objectives tangible value grows exponentially from these programs, beyond just treating people with dignity and compassion by offering a positive impact in someone’s life, the ripple effect created benefits the individual, family and community.

After our tour of Mother Earth Recycling we had a great lunch at Feast Cafe Bistro, where we ate and shared personal highlights of the morning and plans for the summer ahead (I enjoyed the ‘Pow Wow’ bannock tacos, and would recommend it to anyone!)

After our lunch break we walked over to the West Central Women’s Resource Centre where we toured the centre and were shown how they empower women and families through their wide-range of programs and services around; childcare, drop-in and food support, family support, gender-based violence support, housing and income, newcomer services, traditional Indigenous teachings, street outreach and training and skills building. A community hub and safe-space it was easy to see right away how their work positively affects the neighbourhood.

Our final stop for the day was at Urban Circle Training Centre and Makoonsag Intergenerational Children’s Centre. Haven Stumpf, Executive Director, led us through the tour and information session of the training centre while also sharing her own impactful journey to becoming an Urban Circle graduate. Urban Circle has a strong Indigenous cultural component built into the curriculum and offers certified programs to First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples. We were welcomed and joined by many staff that led us through their various training opportunities. We ended our day with a tour of the Makoonsag Intergenerational Children’s Centre and what a day it was!

Our group started back in September 2020 and a lot can happen in two years, but the dedicated team at Leadership Winnipeg has kept us learning and engaged the whole way! The time and stories shared by everyone presenting to our group was completely invaluable and very much appreciated.