Two young men are making a lasting difference in the North End, proving — as the Selkirk Avenue banners say — they have heart.
Michael Champagne and Iain Brynjolson may come from very different backgrounds, but their passion and determination to "be the change" is an obvious common ground. The two are friends and often collaborate on the events they spearhead.
Champagne is celebrating a major milestone this month: the one-year anniversary of Meet Me at the Bell Tower. With his leadership, this movement was started by North End youth as a reaction to the violence which has taken too many lives and too much potential.
Meet Me at the Bell Tower is held every Friday at 6 p.m. on Selkirk near Powers Street, during which concerned citizens gather and support the voices of the youth for the violence to stop. It is a family event, is free to attend, and all Winnipeggers are welcome.
The Nov. 15 anniversary was marked with a special Bell Tower cake, awards for those in the community who made special contributions over the past year, and the reappearance of the ‘North End Megaphone.’ Everyone who had ever attended was encouraged to come.
Michael invites anyone with stories to share, anything to contribute, even an open mind and curiosity, to come listen to what people have to say. He assures it is a safe environment with an average of 50 people lending support to the movement every week.
Brynjolson believes food security is important for building healthy, prosperous, and sustainable communities. A number of years ago, he started Food For Folks, selling fresh produce at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. This past summer, he was instrumental in reviving the Main Street Farmer’s Market. Iain is also involved in door-to-door vegetables sales in North Point Douglas, and Eat Street, a food security comic/magazine, while engaging neighbourhood youth in the process. His primary aim is to raise money to create an urban garden in the North End.
On Nov. 30, he will host an eclectic fundraiser entitled Food For Folks Block Rocking Beets. The night will include live music and dancing, a North End crokinole league tournament, a farmers’ market with root vegetables for sale, silent auction prizes, 50-50 draw, and interactive art programming. Some of the musical performers will include the West Broadway Hip Hop Orchestra, Franklin Fernando of Ras-Tamils, and Carlen Jupiter.
The event will take place from 7 p.m. until 1 a.m. at the Winnipeg Polish Canadian Legion No. 246, 1335 Main St. Tickets are available at Pollock’s Hardware Co-op, 1407 Main Street for $20 ($10 youth and low income).
Sonya Braun is a community correspondent for the North End. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.