This is not the sequel either of us expected.
I went looking for Artie, father of the young man killed by a hit and run driver on Main Street (CNC story: “Look both ways”) to see how he was doing since our last conversation.
I wanted to see if the memorial to Cody is still there. It is, covered in snow but it’s still there. I wanted to hear the word on the street in this time between the incident and the driver’s November court appearance.
I got an earful but it was not what I expected to hear. Just walking down a short stretch of Main Street I encountered people who wanted someone to listen.
Actually whenever my friend Gerrie and I walk down Main Street we get asked, “Are you social workers?” It’s not just women who talk to us but men and sometimes a few teens who should be in school but aren’t.
On the Friday night we were at the Bell Tower, featured speakers had come from Wahbung Abinoonjiiag Inc., Domestic Violence Prevention Centre for Children and their Families.
The more I ventured out of my comfort zone the more I learned about the amount of violence stabbing us in the heart of the continent. World Kindness Day has come and gone and I can’t help but think that a little open-your-heart surgery might be just what we need. That and a bit of kindness every day to keep the violence away.
The Manitoba government proclaimed November as Domestic Violence Prevention Month and is urging Manitobans to speak out against abuse, and violence.
Bad News/Good News
The Firefighters Union and the Police Service Union say Winnipeg is worse than Vancouver’s Eastside for drugs and crime. Winnipeg has the highest rate of kids in foster care in the country.
Manitoba has the second-highest rate of intimate partner violence in Canada, with a police-reported rate of 896 victims per 100,000 citizens, nearly double the Canadian rate of 482 per 100,000, according to Statistics Canada.
Maclean’s Magazine contends we’re are the most racist city in the land and we’ve been dubbed the murder capital of Canada quite a few times.
The Knight Foundation chose Winnipeg for its only Canadian city for Community News Commons; because we are seen as a caring community. Dolly Parton chose Winnipeg as the Canadian city for her Imagination Library; because we are seen as a caring community.
For the fourth year in a row, we’ve been named Culture Capital of Canada in part due to our extraordinary participation in Culture Days. We’re one of the best places to visit according to National Geographic Magazine and Vogue. IKEA knew what they were doing and Amazon knows we’re here.
Other cities are emulating our Bear Clan in violence prevention. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is providing leadership is addressing crucial social issues and Winnipeg has signed the Indigenous Accord.
The list of positive things about Winnipeg is so long that it might be tempting to gloss over the high child poverty rate, the increasing use of food banks, and the crime rate and we can’t expect the “Bannock Lady” to fix the root causes of hunger in this city.
The Bell Tower had given us hope for the past six years but it’s time to ring those chimes for more support from all levels of government for violence prevention.
Small gestures, big impact
Think you can’t make a difference? One seemingly little thing can have a huge impact.
Did someone at Apple headquarters read my e-mail suggestion to remove the violent image of a shotgun emoji from their roster? I may never know if CEO Tim Cook read it because he did not utilize his reply button.
But I do one thing for sure. It is the overwhelming feeling of empowerment that maybe, just maybe, he did and that others sent in the same suggestion because the gun is gone!
While I was at it, I suggested they nix the cigarette also. A is for activist. Now it looks like I have to suggest the Winnipeg Police Service host a turn-in-your-weapons-day. Because we can’t leave it to the Bear Clan to do everything.
Not only is there work to be done preventing violence in the home and on the streets but also in the workplace. The province is particularly concerned about violence that medical personnel face on the job.
My one little act of Apple consumer defiance got me to thinking not only about all the violent images we are bombarded with daily in ads and movies but also the subliminal violent auditory messages out there. How often have I said, “I gave it my best shot?” Those war words are ingrained in our society. Now I just say “I gave it my best.”
Because so many acts of violence start with violent words, we need “speech therapy” whereby we stop the emotional abuse emanating from critical, hurtful damaging words.
City core areas do not have to be combat zones. Just as poverty is not moral bankruptcy, we are all richer for kindness and understanding. We can do it, one conversation at a time.
Social surgery starts with understanding each other. And there are many avenues open for us to explore. MTC’s Steven Schipper captures this when he says, “We can transcend race, gender, and class to find love.”
Love is the spirit of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Winnipeg and they are showing their appreciation of the work done by the Spence Street Association’s efforts to build community capacity in five west end locations by sharing their collection plate each week for the month of November. To learn more about the many services offered such as safe places for youth and violence prevention programs see: www.spenceneighbourhood.org/
In doing some research, I discovered something called the “Doctrine of the Violent Man” which postulates that that’s just the way men are. The men we met along Main Street were homeless, tired, hungry, frustrated, and cold. Maybe not all were chemical free. They were humans living in inhumane situations. They weren’t born violent.
It takes a community to raise a community.
Heroes in our midst
How is it that 30,000 refugee claimant requests sit on the desks of an 83 year old who recently suffered a stroke and still works 9 am – 7 pm six days a week along side a 70 year old colleague battling breast cancer. I’m talking about the two amazing people who run Hospitality House without any government support. If they can do it, we can all do something.
If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes I might not have believed what one of my English as an Alternate Language students told me. That drug dealers are at the airport scouting out immigrants who are alone and looking vulnerable. It is a one way ticket to desperation and violence. We need Winnipeggers to step up and make violence prevention a priority.
The Refuge can’t do it all but every bit helps. Refuge is an organization that helps refugees from war torn countries to settle in Winnipeg.
They are the beneficiaries of a concert by Margaret’s Choir 2:30 p.m. Dec. 10 at Jubilee Place. One concert might sound like a drop in the bucket but that one concert is going to increase the awareness of 700 hundred people. Not bad odds in making a difference.
The concert theme is “dreams” and represents not only refugees’ dreams of a better future but also one without violence.
It starts with empowerment. It starts will healing.
In celebration of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on Fri. Nov. 24 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., the MB Association of Women’s Shelters presents Margo Goodhand, author of “ Runaway Wives and Rogue Feminists” at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (Classrooms B & C). Free admission.
On Sat. Nov. 25 the Institute for International Women’s Rights MB will host a workshop, “Getting Back Up: resilient Women in the Face of Violence” at the South Sudanese Cultural Centre, 129 Dagmar St. Wpg, For further info: http://iiwrmc.ca/events
On Wed. Dec. 6 the MB Status of Women and the Women’s Advisory Council will hold its annual Sunrise Memorial from 8 – 9 a.m. in the Rotunda of the Manitoba Legislative Bldg. RSVP 204-945-6281 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are some sources of help not only for November but all year to receive help or to volunteer.
To learn how to stop violence visit: at www.gov.mb.ca/stoptheviolence/index.html.
For resources and supports available in Manitoba, visit the Family Violence Prevention Program website at www.gov.mb.ca/fs/fvpp/index.html.
Family violence affects both women and men. While research shows women are more likely to be victims of family violence, men can be victims also. Help is available for men and their children who live with family violence from the Men’s Resource Centre, 204-415-6797.
Some resources regarding mental health and addictions, include:
- Victim Services, Winnipeg Police Service 204-986-6350
If you or someone you know is being abused, call the confidential provincial toll-free crisis line at: 1-877-977-0007
Box 1056 Winnipeg, MB R3C 2X4
Phone 204 987-2780
Box 1786 Winnipeg, MB R3C 2Z9 Phone 204 615-0313
Wahbung Abinoonjiiag Inc. 225 Dufferin Avenue. Winnipeg, Phone:( 204) 925-4610. Email: email@example.com. http://www.wahbung.org/. Hours of Operation: 9 – 5 Monday – Friday. Free.
Thank you Artie. Go now in peace.