How can we do things differently to create a warmer, safer, healthier, and more welcoming province for all?

October 31, 2018

How can we do things differently to create a warmer, safer, healthier, and more welcoming province for all? What are your ideas to save more people from freezing to death and losing limbs to the cold in Winnipeg? Together, we can prevent tragic deaths, loss of limbs, and loss of hope for so many struggling in the streets during our cold winters.

October 21 at the Corydon Community Centre, I hosted a forum in a sharing circle format with panelists on the frontline of saving lives during the winter.

The panelists were:

Michael Champagne, Community Leader, Let Our Relatives In campaign

Marion Willis, Executive Director, St. Boniface Street Links

James Favel, Executive Director, Bear Clan Patrol

Dr. Evelyn Forget, Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

Rick Lees, Executive Director, Main Street Project

Michael Champagne emphasized changing the way people who sleep outside in the cold are viewed - from homeless people to "our relatives on the street.

Marion Willis spoke of the work of Morberg House, housing up to ten men, most with a meth addiction, mental health issues and often a previous history of being in CFS care. She emphasized the need for coordinating current fragmented services so that people can move from living on the street in a continuously supported way.

James Favel, on the front lines of the meth epidemic, with the Bear Clan Patrol picking up thousands of needles each year, spoke to the need for overnight warming centres in Winnipeg, as well as the need for people who are struggling to have better access to services.

Evelyn Forget said a big difference for our friends and relatives on the street would be by implementing a minimum basic income in Manitoba. It would improve health and decrease hospitalizations and provide people with greater stability and potential in their lives.

Rick Lees said "No one need be homeless. This can be fixed tomorrow." He emphasized the need for us to look at ourselves, our values and the evidence - and to have a coordinated approach to make the changes needed for those who are our friends and relatives on the street.

I invite you to join this conversation, to share your ideas and to make a difference by emailing me at or by calling 204-489-1560.

Collecting warm clothing is another way to make a difference. Our goal is to have, by December 8, 100 each of scarves, warm mitts, toques and socks that we can provide to these leaders and their organizations.

Can we do this, River Heights? Perhaps your school, faith group or sports team would like to help us meet the challenge? Please contact me to have a volunteer or myself pick up your donation before December 8. Or donate them in person at my holiday party on December 8 at the Corydon Community Centre, 1370 Grosvenor Ave from 3:30 to 5:30 pm.

I invite you to join us at our next Forum on preventive health approaches to diabetes, mental health, HIV-AIDS and lung disease, Sunday, November 18, 2 to 4 pm at the Crescentwood Community Centre, 1170 Corydon.


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