Creating reconciliation: Youth United@Winnipeg students present
Students reflect on their North End summer experience
WINNIPEG, MB – Since May, 20 University of Winnipeg students have gone to work and class every day in the North End as participants in a unique learning program aimed at building greater understanding and reconciliation. Tomorrow, Thursday, August 10, they gather to share their experiences in a day of student presentations at Thunderbird House.
The students come from a diversity of backgrounds, both suburban and inner-city, with the intent of fostering new relationships and the exchange of ideas and perspectives.
Aine Dolin grew up in the Wolseley neighbourhood and spent this summer working with youth at Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, in a program aimed at supporting healthy relationships and exposing the dangers of sexual exploitation. “The experience has reminded me how much the youth themselves are experts in their own lives, and our role is to give them resources, and build trusting relationships with them.” Dolin just graduated from UWinnipeg and is entering a Master’s degree program in Medical Anthropology in Saskatchewan next month. Her career goal is to work in reproductive health policy and research.
Melissa Paypompee also spent the summer helping to organize youth programs and a Youth Assembly at Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata. “I grew up in the inner city in a disadvantaged setting, and I did not have a Ma Mawi to turn to. Many people don’t see the potential in these kids, but these youth are so smart and aware and the holistic approach at Ma Mawi is really changing lives.” Paypompee, who has two young children, is completing her degree in Urban and Inner City Studies and Conflict Resolution this year and intends to pursue a degree in Social Work.
Both Dolin and Paypomee say the classmates formed a real bond networking through Facebook with a shared passion for reconciliation. They say the Youth United pilot program is a great opportunity that is worth repeating with feedback from this first cohort.
In partnership with the City of Winnipeg and numerous community-based organizations, YouthUnited@Winnipeg was initiated by Winnipeg Councillor Brian Mayes based on the principles in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action. The curriculum exposed students to a variety of community settings and cultural experiences as they spent one day a week in the classroom, and four days a week working at North End community-based organizations. They completed work placements in community-based organizations and earned six university credits.
Partnering organizations include: Community Economic Development Association, Ka Ni Kanichihk, Onashowewin, Spence Neighbourhood Association, Native Women’s Transition Centre, North Point Douglas Women’s Centre, Graffiti Art Gallery, The WRENCH, Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, Food Matters Manitoba, West Central Women’s Resource Centre, and Workforce Staffing Solutions, a division of Manitoba Green Retrofit.
The pilot program, funded by the City of Winnipeg, will take place again next summer.
UWinnipeg’s Urban and Inner-City Studies department on Selkirk Avenue, in the heart of the North End, is home base for the program, which was designed and facilitated by Dr. Shauna MacKinnon, Chair of Urban and Inner-City Studies and associate professor.
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Diane Poulin, Senior Communications Specialist, The University of Winnipeg
P: 204.988.7135, E: firstname.lastname@example.org