Do an Internet search of the ‘North End of Winnipeg’ and you will see ‘poverty’ and ‘violence’ come up the quickest and the most often.
To someone who is not familiar with the North End, or doesn’t frequent this community, it can mistakenly come across as a hotbed of crime and broken families – a place you either avoid altogether or drive through to get elsewhere, with your windows up and your car doors locked.
Those of us who live and work here, however, know it as a community unlike any other – full of culture, spirit, and generosity. That’s why we’re here and that’s why we love this community.
The North End portrayed in the media is merely an illusion, one that has been created through the glamourization of negative events.
In actuality, it is a neighbourhood where you can walk down the street during the daytime and be greeted by a “hello!” from passersby. You’ll inevitably run into someone you know who’s a friend of your friend from that thing you were at that one time. When you frequent a restaurant or a shop in the North End, the owner will remember your name and if you wander into a resource centre, you’ll often be greeted with a warm cup of coffee.
This is not to say that the North End is without flaws — like any other neighbourhood, it has its challenges. A look at the statistics around the North End — also known as Point Douglas — will tell you that this neighbourhood is among the most impoverished in Canada. You’ll also see that 40% of kids who are born in Point Douglas are not academically or socially school-ready by the age of 5.
What you won’t see emphasized, however, is that along with the 40% of kids that are not school-ready, there is another 60% who are school-ready and are going on to achieve success in school and throughout their lives.
The Winnipeg Boldness Project
This is where The Winnipeg Boldness Project will focus: not only on the challenges facing the North End, but on the ongoing successes. What are the things already happening in the neighbourhood that are creating the conditions for some kids to succeed and how can we replicate them in a large way?
Through a one-year Boldness ‘Collaboratory’ process, the project intends to pinpoint just that.
The Winnipeg Boldness Project is embarking upon a research process that will mobilize the community narratives and knowledge base that already exist within this unique neighbourhood. We are certain that a community-based solution to the challenges around Early Childhood Development (ECD) can be uncovered.
The Winnipeg Boldness Project is taking the time to live the questions and truly understand what the answers are in a deep and meaningful way.
What’s crystal clear to us is that this is a community that has been consulted to the extreme and that much of the information and knowledge we’re looking for has already been collected. Our job now is fourfold:
- Take that raw data and distill it into key ideas that we believe should be at the core of this powerful paradigm.
- Create a strength-based narrative that properly conveys a message of the community, for the community.
- Explore these ideas to develop several theories around change and then rapidly test (prototype) these theories to determine their validity and efficacy.
- Develop and implement an intervention strategy, based on the findings, to ultimately achieve our Bold Goal: to dramatically transform the well-being of young children in Point Douglas.
When I use the word transformation, let me be perfectly clear that this is not meant to imply that the North End in any way needs to be “fixed.” This neighbourhood is loved in a strong and unwavering way and certainly does not need to adjust to the system, but rather the system needs to adapt to it and support its residents.
With this mindset, we anticipate the rate of school-ready kids at the age of five in Point Douglas will jump from 60% to 80% by the year 2020. Some might say this is a lofty goal that’s near impossible. We say that with the right amount of boldness anything is possible and we know that the North End has the knowledge and the heart to drive this change.