Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/5/2010 (2613 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
One of my friends left her husband a few months ago. It was a bad relationship and she couldn't take it anymore. She packed up a few bags and left the rez with her five kids.
Leaving the community wasn't physically easy either, since she had no vehicle, and few options in the way of transportation.
Luckily, a friend with a van offered to drive her and the kids to the city. She got here on a rainy night, tired, a little scared, but hopeful. Winnipeg: the city of promise for so many of us.
But leaving a bad situation didn't mean the struggle stopped. Everyone pitched in to help her and the kids, and she stayed with a succession of friends and families in overcrowded homes all over the inner city.
You see, she couldn't find a place to live.
She'd tried finding a place to rent in her price range, but there weren't many options. Staying with friends put pressure on them since they could get kicked out if their landlords found out.
When she found affordable places, the landlords would balk when they realized there would be five kids moving in. As well, she didn't have a rental history so she was seen as a risk. Eventually, she found a place, but it wouldn't be ready for weeks.
She stayed at a homeless shelter for a week, then, as move-in day came closer, my friend hit another stumbling block. She had no money for beds or furniture. As much as we all scrambled to get things together for her, we didn't have enough.
Then Oyate Tipi Cumini Yape came to the rescue. Some friends and I took her down to its Selkirk Avenue office for her appointment. We'd heard about Oyate Tipi (name means where the community lives, sharing and recycling in Dakota).
Oyate Tipi offers gently used household items and furniture to women and children trying to escape abusive relationships and poverty.
We walked in and met Mildred Anderson -- or Millie, as she likes to be called. Millie runs the program, and she was visibly moved by my friend's situation. Millie promised she'd have beds for her kids delivered to her new home that afternoon.
We couldn't believe our good luck.
The furniture was organized in a big room, and my friend's eyes lit up like I hadn't seen in a long time. There were rows of furniture, kitchen stuff and assorted household goods all older but in good condition, like you'd find in a second-hand store.
I wondered if the people who donated that stuff realize what a wonderful gift they are giving the women and kids who go there.
A volunteer worker guided my friend around and helped her pick out things and tag them for her new home. There were beds, dressers, towels, pots and dishes. She looked like she was going to cry, but they were tears of relief and happiness this time. Finally, a happy ending.
Today, May 29, Oyate Tipi is setting up at The Golf Dome (1205 Wilkes Avenue) for its sixth annual Fresh Start furniture drive. The goal is to fill two semi-trailers with gently used furniture and home goods. Most-needed items include: sofas, chairs, tables, arm chairs, coffee tables, lamps, small kitchen appliances, televisions, radios, linens, towels and curtains. Volunteers are running the drive from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Burgers, hotdogs and drinks are available, too. Maybe you've got some items to drop off for a new family to use?
If you miss the drive this weekend, you can always call the Oyate Tipi at 589-2265 for a pick-up.
Colleen Simard is a Winnipeg writer.