"Wii Chiiwaakanak" means "partners" in Anishinabemowin.
With that in mind, the Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre is a community partnership designed to reflect neighbourhood needs for an inclusive, accessible, educational gathering place.
The centre, located at 511 Ellice Ave., is an outreach initiative providing educational, learning, and capacity building opportunities in Winnipeg’s inner city.
The Centre, through the University of Winnipeg (U of W), relies on the support of external grants and funding.
Manager Sharon Redsky is originally from Shoal Lake #40 First Nation but is now an active member of Winnipeg’s urban Aboriginal community. Redsky sits on the board of Manito Abhee and Ndinawemaaganag Endaawaad, is a committee member of Winnipeg Housing and Homelessness, and a member of the YM/YWCA Women of Distinction nominating committee.
"The Centre provides service to over 500 children, youth, families, and seniors each week," said Redsky. "The program provides educational, cultural, and recreational opportunities for children, youth, and families, as well as free computer access (with 18 on-site computers available weekdays and Saturdays)."
Wii Chiiwaakanak’s diverse educational, cultural, and recreational programs are free of charge, including the Pow Wow Club, Change Our Tune, Let’s Talk Science, Let’s Speak Ojibwe to Our Kids, Young Money, and Reading Circles.
"We work in close collaboration with partners, such as The U of W, Hugh John McDonald Jr High School, Gordon Bell High School, Sister MacNamara School, CEDA Pathways to Education, Manitoba Indian Education Association (MIEA), and Ndinawe – all of which provide meaningful programs for children, youth, and families," said Redsky.
"Part of Wii Chiiwaakanak’s key roles in the community includes listening to what the community needs and wants, and to seek resources to work with community members to address those needs.
"In 2013, we’ll continue providing programming that supports the needs of children, youth, and families.
"Wii Chiiwaakanak seeks to elevate the importance of education and learning, and to create a culture of continuous learning available to all of Winnipeg’s inner city community members.
"Embracing learning as a foundational principle in our community will better prepare us to meet the challenges of our complex and competitive world."
For more information about the Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre, stop by 511 Ellice Ave, call (204) 789-1454, or visit www.uwinnipeg.ca/index/wcclc-index.
Rebeca Kuropatwa is a community correspondent for the West End. You can contact her at beca72ca.yahoo.ca.