Community Voices project shares residents’ life stories

The Good Will was filled with residents eager to watch stories about their neighbors' lives.

The Good Will was filled with residents eager to watch stories about their neighbors’ lives.

Two years ago, former Winnipeg Tribune reporter, Mike Maunder had an idea (apparently he’s always coming up with great ideas as a friend of his mentioned) to make a film about West Broadway residents life stories. The idea, Community Voices project, came to fruition as five films were screened at The Good Will to a full house on Monday night.

Mike Maunder came up with the idea for Community Voices a couple years ago

Mike Maunder came up with the idea for Community Voices a couple years ago.

The filming started last fall in conjunction with Laura Johnson of Just TV at the Broadway Neighborhood Centre. Just TV is a place where local youth are given the opportunity to make and create videos.

17 year old Josh Shuttleworth and Mike Maunder set out with cameras and interviewed mostly seniors at Lions Place, capturing the residents’ stories on video.

Maunder also put together an 8-minute video of his own. Starry Starry Night was a reflection on his life and friends. Although he has not seen some of them for years, he still considers them good friends.

Next up were the stories of the elders. Many of them have gathered for something called Memory Mondays for some time, sharing stories and good times from their past.

Thanks to Maunder, their amazing stories were given a larger audience last night. The room was packed with many people eager to see the films.

Some of the residents, Margaret and Tina, provided home baked muffins, snacks and tea. They also baked for the Memory Mondays event which Maunder says should be renamed Munchie Mondays.

Margaret and Tina did some baking for the event

Margaret and Tina did some baking for the event

The stories were very entertaining and amusing as the storytellers spoke about of their lives and loved ones.

The delightful Delza Longman was at the screening

Delightful Delza Longman at the screening.

Delza Longman, 97 , talked of how she had moved to Winnipeg from southern Ontario in her thirties to teach at United College (now University of Winnipeg). Armed with only a photograph of the college, she boarded Winnipeg Transit and asked the driver where it was. He told her it was by the Bay.

She kept her eyes open for a bay or a large body of water before she realized that the driver was talking about the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Longman also related how some of her students kept in contact with her, like the woman she taught in grade 7 who sent her a photo of herself, her daughter and grand daughter.

I spoke with Delza Longman and two of her friends whom she brought along with her to the screening. They were very happy and inspired by their very active friend, Delza.

Her advice to others is to “always be interested in all sorts of things.” One of her main hobbies is ‘hooking’ or embroidery work. She also wrote a book about her life.

Another wonderful storyteller, Julia Bohmback, shared stories of how she started dedicating her life to educating people about Alzheimer’s.

Her husband had Alzheimer’s in the ’70’s. She cared for her husband for 9 years before he went into a care facility.

Ms. Bohmback has had many hobbies in her life including square dancing.

When the interviewer asked her to summarize her life in a couple of lines, she chuckled, “You want me to put 100 years of lifetime in a couple of lines.”

Bohmback, who will be 100 this May, did offer some great advice though: “There comes a time when you must retire from your lifetime work, your career, but that does not mean you have to retire from life, from living, from being useful. Volunteering your time and knowledge to help solve a problem or need is such a privilege and the accomplishments are so fulfilling.”

Julia celebrates her 100th birthday this May

Julia Bohmback celebrates her 100th birthday this May.

Others shared stories of growing up in Winnipeg and how they would amuse themselves with simple games and outdoor fun like skipping rope and baseball.

The large audience was captivated by the stories

The large audience was captivated by the stories.

The last film featured 27 year old Stephanie Strugar, who is the owner and Artistic Director of Difinity Dance Studio and Productions. This vibrant and dynamic young woman shared how she was placed into foster care as a youngster growing up in Beausejour. Despite being exposed to bad influences, she stayed on the straight and narrow and one of her main goals in life is to help and guide children and youth.

Stephanie Strugar displays collages she made for the video

Stephanie Strugar displays collages she made for the video.

I spoke with Stephanie Strugar after the screening and it was clearly evident her main pleasure in life was seeing the joy in the young people who she works with. In the video, she explained how she was very introverted growing up, certainly not the same person she is today.

Stephanie brought her mother, Laurie, to the screening. Laurie gave her daughter a big hug at the end of the film.

At the conclusion of the screening, Danielle Anderson, 20, who edited the videos at Just TV, was presented with a bouquet of flowers. Considering that Ms. Anderson had very little experience with editing, she did a wonderful job. In fact the folks at Just TV were so impressed with her, she now has a job with Just TV.

Danielle Anderson was the editor of the videos

Danielle Anderson, editor of the videos, is given a bouquet of flowers for her great work.

It’s funny that as I wrote this story, a song from my childhood popped into my head. Sesame Street’s People in Your Neighborhood

“Oh, who are the people in your neighborhood?
In your neighborhood?
In your neighborhood?
Say, who are the people in your neighborhood?
The people that you meet each day”

There are many interesting and wonderful people in our communities and neighbourhoods who have stories and wisdom to share as evidenced by this wonderful evening of videos and stories.

All photos by Doug Kretchmer

Click here to hear audio of the event (first couple minutes not recorded):

Doug Kretchmer

About

Doug's artistic endeavours include photography, video art, drawing, poetry and acting. He also has a background in alternative radio in Vancouver where he produced and programmed a radio show from 1997 to 2001. He is involved in Winnipeg's art scene as an active member of Ace Art, Art From the Heart, Platform Gallery and as a producer member of Videopool, where he served as a board member from 2003 to 2009. He is enjoying writing for the CNC, sharing stories and giving a voice to people who might not otherwise be heard.