Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Artisans invite city neighbours to discover Point Douglas beauty

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From left, Julia Wake, Ricardo Lopez-Aguilar, Kate Sjoberg and Jillian Ramsay.

JOSH PETERSON Enlarge Image

From left, Julia Wake, Ricardo Lopez-Aguilar, Kate Sjoberg and Jillian Ramsay.

On Saturday afternoon, a community-building craft sale will show the rest of city that Point Douglas is indeed for lovers.

A co-presentation by the Point Douglas Residents Committee (PDRC) and the North Point Douglas Women's Centre (NPDWC), Point Douglas Is For Lovers: A North End Craft Sale will feature handmade wares by a host of talented local artists, crafters and bakers who "work, live or love in Point Douglas," including J+M Dzama Art, graffiti artist Pat Lazo, silkscreen master Roy Liang, aboriginal designer Gloria Spence, Christian Procter of the Procter Bros., and many, many more.

Proceeds from the sale go towards supporting the community development efforts of the PDRC.

"Point Douglas is full of creative people," says Kate Sjoberg, the executive director of the NPDWC. "We've had a great response from great artists. You can get savoury food and sweet food, but also furniture and Valentine's cards. It's like your corner store craft sale. It's a fundraiser, but it's also a celebration of local crafty people."

Ricardo Lopez-Aguilar, chairman of the PDRC, says events like this help emphasize the many positive aspects of one of Winnipeg's poorest -- and stigmatized -- neighbourhoods. "We want to change the perception people have of the neighbourhood," he says. "We want to bring people from all over the city to the North End. To make this city better, we need to drop the preconceived notions of the neighbourhoods we avoid. We thought this would be a good way to do that."

Sjoberg echoes that point. "I think if you grow up in a certain neighbourhood in Winnipeg, you get to know that neighbourhood really well and don't venture to other parts of the city, for whatever reason. Some places are plagued by perception as opposed to reality. People need to come here and see how much beauty is here. People should get to know this place."

Sjoberg knows that day-to-day reality for many Point Douglas residents means stress and struggle. She points to systemic factors such as the lasting effects of colonialism, an ongoing housing shortage and continued divestment of inner-city neighbourhood infrastructure in favour of suburban development that impact the quality of life for Point Douglas residents.

Still, she says, "this hasn't stopped effective community action and organizing from happening, and being successful." She says that as a city, "we need to think about how we pro-actively care for our infrastructure, how we engage everyone as active participating citizens."

That means engaging with Point Douglas instead of treating it like an island. As Lopez-Aguilar says, it's often the perceptions of a neighbourhood that hurt it and what it can be.

That so many people rallied around the craft sale -- "within the first week we sold out of half the tables," Lopez-Aguilar says -- speaks to the passion and strong community spirit that exists in Point Douglas, a quality he's eager to show off on Saturday.

"I've never lived in a community where people make such an effort to get to know each other," says Lopez-Aguilar, who lives and works in the neighbourhood. "There's a lot of solidarity between the non-aboriginal residents and the mostly aboriginal residents."

The craft sale, meanwhile, offers the rest of the city a chance to stand in solidarity with Point Douglas. After all, it's as Sjoberg says, "a craft sale is about creating beauty."

jen.zoratti@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 7, 2014 D6

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