West End Voices Claim Their History

WINNIPEG, MB –It is time for West End residents to tell their own stories from their own perspective. Currently many of the stories heard are told by those who don’t live in the neighbourhood, which has a different voice. An innovative community-university collaborative project is helping West Enders share their stories about their own neighbourhood in which they live and work. Communal storytelling helps residents claim their own history rather than having it told and written by others by holding events through the year.

The first big event is a Show and Tell Exhibit on Saturday, March 31, 2012, from 1:00 to 3:00pm at the famous Orioles Community Centre — the city’s second-oldest (444 Burnell Street).

“We want people to help us identify some of the people in the photographs we will exhibit,” explains Leanne Shumka, a resident of the neighbourhood. “We also want people to bring their own photographs and memorabilia, such as sports jerseys, that tell a story about them or our community.”

Newcomers to the neighbourhood are especially encouraged to attend, to find out about their new neighbourhood and to tell others some of the stories they bring to the West End. “It’d be great to hear stories from some of the recent immigrants and Aboriginal residents,” says Allison Penner, a research assistant at the University of Winnipeg, and a West Ender herself. “Their stories are very important but often not heard or misrepresented.”

Community members and UWinnipeg researchers together have developed a number of activities that bring together long-time residents and newcomers to the neighbourhood, the young and the old, to tell the stories that make up the fabric of the neighbourhood and truly represent the experiences of the West Enders.

The project members also know finding one’s voice can be difficult and have created Talking circles to help facilitate people sharing their stories. These talking circles are open to everyone. The upcoming talking circles are on Saturday, April 14, from 1:00 to 2:30 pm and Tuesday, May 8, from 7:00 to 8:30 pm. They take place at the DMSMCA Office on 823 Ellice Avenue. Refreshments provided at all events.

Finally, there is also a storytelling contest. Send in a story you want to share with your community and you may win an audio recorder to do your own interviews! Deadline is Tuesday, May 1, 2012.

The project was initiated by the Daniel McIntyre / St. Matthews Community Association in cooperation with the University of Winnipeg’s Oral History Centre. This project is federally funded through a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant.

To learn more about these events, contact winnipegwestendvoices@gmail.com and visit the Daniel McIntyre St Matthew’s Facebook

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Naniece Ibrahim, Communications Officer, The University of Winnipeg
P: 204.988.7130, E: n.ibrahim@uwinnipeg.ca

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