This year’s 17th Annual Blueberry Pancake Breakfast on behalf of LITE (Local Investment Toward Employment) was held at the Indian and MétisFamily Centre, from 7 to 10 Friday morning Nov 22.
As the sun started to rise, the room began filling with local inner-city crafters, aboriginal youth advocates, residents and business owners.
As a current intern at LITE, I was asked to question those attending the breakfast about the social impact this event had on them. This impact could have been felt personally, or on their business financially. This also included what it meant for crafters, local residents, city councillors, and for LITE itself.
From the discussions that ensued, it became clear that the breakfast has a personal impact on all of those involved, while creating many economic benefits for Winnipeg’s inner-city.
The main goal of LITE’s organization is to teach people about the cycle of buying from local stores and how this benefits inner-city residents who have barriers to employment.
Being involved in the breakfast preparation, I began to realize that there will always be a ripple effect from my actions as a consumer. If the option is there to not only buy locally, but to benefit those who have barriers to employment, why would I not choose to do so? It builds their confidence, capacity, and their belief that they are able to reach their highest potential.
This breakfast not only showed the strengths of every individual involved, from artistic creativity to the drive of Winnipeg youth, it highlighted the collective benefits of collaboration.
In talking with some of the crafters, it furthered my belief of continuous hope for the inner-city.
As Marlene Vieno, a local resident and crafter said, “This is amazing. This is definitely a cultural hub, and it is great that all the craft work here is made by people in the community. I feel as though this is a showcase of the abundance of creativity in the city of Winnipeg alone. An event like this boosts my pride as a Winnipegger and also gives me inspiration. It’s that uplift, and that empowerment.”
Many of the other crafters had the same opinion, speaking about the togetherness and the opportunity for growth this breakfast brings.
“This breakfast is a great way to create new contacts and for people to find us, it’s great exposure,” said Gina Hirney, a crafter from Sewfair. “It is a celebration of community art, non-profits and small businesses in the inner-city.”
Another crafter, Bowen Smyth, said, “We are connecting with all of our potential clients. Opening social enterprise opportunities and giving non-profits the exposure they need.”
Not only does the breakfast give crafters the potential to gain more clients, it gives local residents hope seeing fellow community members become well known based on their creativity. Arlea Ashcroft, operations manager at the newly opened Neechi Niche said, “All I have to say is wow, even though it is very early, seeing so many people come together in the community is great. This is a great opportunity to meet a lot of people in the neighbourhood and get to know one another.”
The LITE breakfast gives local inner-city residents the opportunity to showcase their strengths, which is what community economic development is all about. Cathy Copenace, who is a crafter as well, said,”There is togetherness with other crafters, and it is a great way to meet new people. Although beading and sewing is just a hobby, it feels like Christmas because people care about our ideas.”
The social impact was not only documented by crafters and local residents, it was also highlighted by Ross Eadie, a Winnipeg City Councillor. “Anything that is trying to create employment in the inner-city is a great thing to me,” he said.
This breakfast represented everything that Winnipeg’s inner-city has been working towards, and will continue to work towards. It is about creating a safe, sustainable, diverse and economically beneficial environment for its people to live and work in, and because of the fact that all breakfast proceeds are going towards investing in local opportunities and local people, there is nothing for Winnipeg’s inner city to do but grow.