Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION
Centre aims to unite community
The Daniel McIntyre/St. Matthews Community Association celebrated the official opening of its new offices last week, a move members hope fosters even stronger relations with the neighbourhood.
DMSMCA representatives opened the doors to the organization’s newly renovated offices and community resource centre at the former West End library on Ellice Avenue on June 27.
"It’s good," said executive director Kemlin Nembhard with a smile, as dozens of community members mingled at last week’s grand opening.
The centre is loaded with community resources, from public computers to resources on housing, safety, newcomer services and environmental efforts taking place in the neighbourhood.
The centre also has two meeting rooms which are available free of charge to area residents in DMSMCA’s catchment area, which is bordered by Portage Avenue to the south, Notre Dame to the north, Victor Street to the east and Ingersoll Street to the west.
"(The centre) is really vital," Nembhard said. "It’s not just about the centre in terms of building community, it’s making people feel like they’re a part of the community.
"There are incredible resources in our neighbourhood. It helps people realize what gems we have here."
The DMSMCA took possession of the library in September 2010, after outgrowing its space in the basement of the Orioles Community Centre.
It moved into the library in May 2011. The bulk of the building’s interior reconstruction began last fall.
"We’re using every inch of space," Nembhard said, noting the organization is still studying the possibility of adding a community café.
The centre is also home to three other community organizations – the Manitoba Urban Inuit Association, Art From the Heart, and Communities 4 Families.
Nichola Batzel, chair of the fledgling Manitoba Urban Inuit Association, said the organization is still establishing itself since incorporating in 2008.
The agency recently received federal funding to hire a full-time executive director. That will help the agency grow and begin to identify which services and programming it can offer the estimated 300 to 400 Inuit living in Winnipeg.
"For the Inuit who live here full-time, there’s not a strong sense of community," she said.
Being located in the DMSMCA offices in the West End is a critical step in building that community and the organization’s membership, she noted.
A lot of aboriginal organizations in the city don’t meet Inuit needs, she said, and most members don’t feel comfortable travelling to downtown agencies.
"They stick to the West End," she said.
"The understand the landmarks in the West End and are familiar with the area."
Working side-by-side with the DMSMCA will be a way for the agency to soak in historical knowledge and learn from its experiences.
"We want to work at building our organization," Batzel said.
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(1 of 16 articles for this week)05/15/2013 1:00 AM 0
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