Julia-Simone Rutgers

Julia-Simone Rutgers

Reporter

Julia-Simone Rutgers is a climate reporter with a focus on Manitoba’s environmental issues. Her position is part of a three-year partnership between the Winnipeg Free Press and The Narwhal, funded by the Winnipeg Foundation.

Before taking on this new collaboration, Rutgers served as the first-ever writer in residence at the Walrus magazine. She has written daily news for the Free Press and the Star Metro Halifax, and has a smattering of bylines in the Globe and Mail, the Coast, and the Discourse.

Though she has lived on both coasts, she grew up in Calgary and feels at most at home lounging on riverbanks under the wide open prairie skies.

In her spare time, she dabbles in music-making, visual art curation, writing poetry and exploring the forests, fields, lakes and rivers Manitoba has to offer.

 

Recent articles of Julia-Simone Rutgers

Libraries in the U.S. and Canada are changing how they refer to Indigenous Peoples

Julia Bullard, Assistant Professor in Information Studies, University of British Columbia, The Conversation 6 minute read Preview

Libraries in the U.S. and Canada are changing how they refer to Indigenous Peoples

Julia Bullard, Assistant Professor in Information Studies, University of British Columbia, The Conversation 6 minute read Friday, Aug. 5, 2022

This article was originally published on The Conversation, an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts. Disclosure information is available on the original site.

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Author: Julia Bullard, Assistant Professor in Information Studies, University of British Columbia

The two largest agencies responsible for the language we use to discover books in libraries in North America — the Library of Congress in the United States, and Library and Archives Canada — are changing how they refer to Indigenous Peoples.

Friday, Aug. 5, 2022

This article was originally published on The Conversation, an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts. Disclosure information is available on the original site.

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Author: Julia Bullard, Assistant Professor in Information Studies, University of British Columbia

The two largest agencies responsible for the language we use to discover books in libraries in North America — the Library of Congress in the United States, and Library and Archives Canada — are changing how they refer to Indigenous Peoples.

Peguis leaders, residents say flood-fatigued First Nation in desperate need of support

Julia-Simone Rutgers 20 minute read Preview

Peguis leaders, residents say flood-fatigued First Nation in desperate need of support

Julia-Simone Rutgers 20 minute read Saturday, Jul. 30, 2022

On a warm summer evening, a flash of heavy rain breaks open over Derek Sutherland’s home in Peguis First Nation.

His doors beat open and shut in the wind; mist sprays into his kitchen and living room. He descends into the basement, where a few inches of water already sit on the concrete floor. Sutherland grabs a long-handled squeegee and begins sweeping the water towards a hole in the floor where two submersible pumps sit ready to move the water away from the home.

Sutherland has lived in this home since he was five years old — he’s in his 50s now. It was his mother’s house, and her old family photos still hang on the kitchen walls. The home’s persistent mould made her sick, and she’s since moved to Winnipeg. Over the last 20 years the home has weathered numerous floods but none as bad as this spring’s. Sutherland says his basement has filled with water nearly 20 times since April. Each time the waters rise, he heads downstairs, turns on the pumps and sweeps the water away.

Saturday, Jul. 30, 2022

Flooding on Peguis First Nation on May 4. (David Lipnowski / The Canadian Press)

Joey Chestnut is chomp champ again in July 4 hot dog contest

Jennifer Peltz And Julia Nikhinson, The Associated Press 3 minute read Preview

Joey Chestnut is chomp champ again in July 4 hot dog contest

Jennifer Peltz And Julia Nikhinson, The Associated Press 3 minute read Monday, Jul. 4, 2022

NEW YORK (AP) — Frankfurter-munching phenom Joey “Jaws” Chestnut put a protester in a chokehold while gobbling his way to a 15th win Monday at the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest, powering down 63 hot dogs and buns at the annual exhibition of excess.

In a decisive chowdown comeback, women's record-holder Miki Sudo downed 40 wieners and buns to win the women's title after skipping last year's frank fest because she was pregnant.

A spectator wearing a Darth Vader mask rushed the stage, momentarily disrupting the competition. Chestnut put the protester in a brief chokehold before contest officials hurried over and escorted the intruder away.

Another protester in a white stormtrooper mask had also snuck behind the competitors and hoisted a sign saying, “Expose Smithfield's Deathstar.” Smithfield manufactures Nathan's famous hotdogs.

Monday, Jul. 4, 2022

Miki Sudo competes in the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest in Coney Island on Monday, July 4, 2022, in New York. Sudo ate 40 hot dogs to win the women's division of the contest. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Free parking helps keep councillors driving to city hall

Julia-Simone Rutgers 6 minute read Preview

Free parking helps keep councillors driving to city hall

Julia-Simone Rutgers 6 minute read Monday, Jul. 4, 2022

Most city councillors, like the majority of Winnipeggers, drive to work, and those commutes help make driving the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the city.

Despite the city’s plan to slice emissions in the coming decades, one city hall perk makes it hard for councillors to abandon their cars — a free parking pass.

Coun. Matt Allard (St. Boniface) says the option of free parking makes it easy to decide to drive to work.

“One of the biggest inconveniences of commuting to work downtown is finding that parking spot,” he said. “So not only is it tempting from a financial perspective, because you already have a spot paid for, but also you have the convenience of knowing that there’s going to be a spot for you as soon as you pull in.”

Monday, Jul. 4, 2022

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
Coun. Matt Allard (St. Boniface) says the option of free parking makes it easy to decide to drive to work. Allard hasn't used a free parking pass since 2018, opting for other modes of transportation instead.

Winnipeg’s shiny plan for net-zero emissions

Julia-Simone Rutgers 12 minute read Preview

Winnipeg’s shiny plan for net-zero emissions

Julia-Simone Rutgers 12 minute read Saturday, Jul. 2, 2022

The City of Winnipeg is taking steps toward a net-zero emissions future; a committee of council has unanimously approved an ambitious, multibillion-dollar ‘road map’, with hopes of getting there by 2050.

The Community Energy Investment Roadmap was commissioned by council in 2020. Meant to accompany the city’s broader guiding documents (OurWinnipeg2045 and the 2018 Climate Action Plan), the road map outlines a series of targets for reducing emissions in five sectors, as well as recommendations to help make the goals of the plan a reality. The committee also approved a plan to request annual progress reports from each department affected, and a motion to discuss hiring two additional employees to tackle work outlined in the report at the next budgetary consultations.

Climate and environment advocates lauded the report at a water, waste, riverbank management and environment committee meeting, celebrating its detailed financial modelling and holistic approach to emissions reduction.

“Universally, there is a lot of joy amongst (the climate advocacy) community as a consequence of receiving this report,” Climate Change Connection executive director Curtis Hull said during the June 28 meeting. The road map “is phenomenal; it’s exactly what we need right now.”

Saturday, Jul. 2, 2022

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
The City of Winnipeg is taking steps toward a net-zero emissions future.

Compost Winnipeg fills a gap in city services

Julia-Simone Rutgers 15 minute read Preview

Compost Winnipeg fills a gap in city services

Julia-Simone Rutgers 15 minute read Friday, Jun. 10, 2022

It’s a wet and windy morning in Winnipeg and Garrett LeBlanc’s main concern is dodging the foul-smelling juice spraying out from the dozens of green bins he’ll tip during the day.

He zips his raincoat up high and secures a 290-litre bin to the hydraulic arm on the side of his ride for the day — a compact garbage-collection truck — then pushes a button to start the lift. He keeps his eyes trained on the slow rise of the bin, then on the green bags of discarded watermelon rinds, meat scraps and kitchen leftovers that tumble into the bed of the truck.

The breeze hooks a thin trail of “rot splatter” and sends it whizzing toward LeBlanc. He dodges. He gives the bin a shake at the peak of the lift, a quick up-down motion with the buttons, before lowering it back to the pavement.

Friday, Jun. 10, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Garrett LeBlanc, compost courier with Compost Winnipeg, dumps a bin into the truck in Winnipeg.

Next city council needs to up its green game, advocates say

Julia-Simone Rutgers 4 minute read Preview

Next city council needs to up its green game, advocates say

Julia-Simone Rutgers 4 minute read Thursday, Jun. 9, 2022

In advance of the civic election this fall, advocacy groups are trying to make the environment and sustainability ballot-box issues.

“​​We’re trying to make sure that mayoral candidates are challenged to put forward a strong climate platform in their campaigns,” said Niall Harney, a researcher at the Manitoba chapter of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, at an event at the courtyard at city hall Thursday.

Representatives from seven groups presented policy options from the centre’s alternative municipal budget that would curb greenhouse gas emissions and improve green infrastructure.

“The next four years are critical for climate; the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says we have to reach peak emissions by 2025, and that we have to reduce emissions by 43 per cent by 2030. We want to make sure that mayoral candidates know that and are being pushed to go further,” Harney said.

Thursday, Jun. 9, 2022

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
A boost to Winnipeg Transit operating funds, along with capital investments in driver safety measures, electric buses and rapid transit infrastructure could help improve ridership and reduce emissions, said Niall Harney, a researcher at the Manitoba chapter of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

America's love affair with the lawn is getting messy

Julia Rubin, The Associated Press 5 minute read Preview

America's love affair with the lawn is getting messy

Julia Rubin, The Associated Press 5 minute read Friday, May. 6, 2022

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — LeighAnn Ferrara is transforming her small suburban yard from grass bordered by a few shrubs into an anti-lawn — a patchwork of flower beds, vegetables and fruit trees.

It didn't happen all at once, says the mother of two young kids. “We started smothering small sections of the lawn each year with cardboard and mulch and planting them, and by now the front yard is probably three-quarters planting beds,” she says. “Every year we do more.”

Her perennials and native plants require less upkeep and water than turf grass does. And she doesn’t need herbicides or pesticides — she’s not aiming for emerald perfection.

For generations, the lawn — that neat, green, weed-less carpet of grass — has dominated American yards. It still does. But a surge of gardeners, landscapers and homeowners worried about the environment now see it as an anachronism, even a threat.

Friday, May. 6, 2022

This 2021 image provided by LeighAnn Ferrara shows Ferrara's young son as he watches a rabbit on a grassy patch of his White Plains, N.Y., yard, which is surrounded by planting beds of flowers, vegetables and trees. Many people are converting parts of their grass lawns into more diverse plantings. (LeighAnn Ferrara via AP

Review: 'Funny Farm' a warm memoir of rescue in many forms

Julia Rubin, The Associated Press 3 minute read Preview

Review: 'Funny Farm' a warm memoir of rescue in many forms

Julia Rubin, The Associated Press 3 minute read Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022

“Funny Farm: My Unexpected Life with 600 Rescue Animals” by Laurie Zaleski (St. Martin’s Press)

As its title promises, Laurie Zaleski’s memoir about how she came to found and run a large animal rescue farm in southern New Jersey is funny.

It's also moving, a big-hearted twin narrative of animal and human resilience.

Zaleski alternates the stories of some of the Funny Farm's most colorful animal characters with her own family's turbulent history and escape from domestic violence. She recounts the cruelty and abandonment that lie behind both narratives, but answers it by describing and practicing compassion, loyalty and love.

Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022

This cover image released by St. Martin's Press shows "Funny Farm: My Unexpected Life with 600 Rescue Animals" by Laurie Zaleski. (St. Martin's Press via AP)

Manitoba lags in mental-health care

Julia Riddell 4 minute read Preview

Manitoba lags in mental-health care

Julia Riddell 4 minute read Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022

ACTIVITIES continue throughout the week surrounding Bell Let’s Talk Day on Wednesday, dedicated to raising awareness about mental health issues in an effort to fight social stigma. It is considered to be the largest corporate commitment to mental health in Canada. But, are stigma and lack of awareness the biggest problems impacting those with mental illness in Canada?

Up to 70 per cent of problems brought to family physicians in Manitoba have a mental-health component, suggesting people are already comfortable reaching out to discuss their mental health needs. It’s what comes next, the actual help that is required, that so many Canadians, especially Manitobans, are lacking.

A 2018 study found that 28 per cent of adult Manitobans have a diagnosed mental disorder, and this has only increased since the COVID-19 pandemic started. A national survey by Dr. David Dozois in 2021 found that the number of respondents who rated their anxiety as high to extremely high quadrupled (from five per cent to 20 per cent) and the number of respondents with high self-reported depression more than doubled (from four per cent to 10 per cent) since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And while family doctors are most commonly the first point of contact for those struggling with mental health concerns, these physicians do not typically have the time or training to treat such issues. Thus, individuals are left to navigate how to access mental-health practitioners such as psychologists, only to be met with significant barriers.

Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022

ACTIVITIES continue throughout the week surrounding Bell Let’s Talk Day on Wednesday, dedicated to raising awareness about mental health issues in an effort to fight social stigma. It is considered to be the largest corporate commitment to mental health in Canada. But, are stigma and lack of awareness the biggest problems impacting those with mental illness in Canada?

Up to 70 per cent of problems brought to family physicians in Manitoba have a mental-health component, suggesting people are already comfortable reaching out to discuss their mental health needs. It’s what comes next, the actual help that is required, that so many Canadians, especially Manitobans, are lacking.

A 2018 study found that 28 per cent of adult Manitobans have a diagnosed mental disorder, and this has only increased since the COVID-19 pandemic started. A national survey by Dr. David Dozois in 2021 found that the number of respondents who rated their anxiety as high to extremely high quadrupled (from five per cent to 20 per cent) and the number of respondents with high self-reported depression more than doubled (from four per cent to 10 per cent) since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And while family doctors are most commonly the first point of contact for those struggling with mental health concerns, these physicians do not typically have the time or training to treat such issues. Thus, individuals are left to navigate how to access mental-health practitioners such as psychologists, only to be met with significant barriers.

Murals bring colour, play, inspiration

Julia-Simone Rutgers 6 minute read Preview

Murals bring colour, play, inspiration

Julia-Simone Rutgers 6 minute read Monday, Nov. 22, 2021

Robin Love likes to think of her painting style as “playful.”

“I like to tune into a child-like fantasy world that’s kind of pop-surreal fantasy. I describe it as ethereal because of the colours. It plays with this duality: it’s very bright and vibrant, but sometimes there’s an eerie darkness to it,” the 39-year-old mother of two says on a phone call. “I love colour play.”

Such an attention to brightness, colour and play caught the attention of a group of dedicated employees serving the south Winnipeg community from a collection of offices in a church basement this past summer.

At the time, the walls of the South Winnipeg Family Information Centre’s rented space in the basement of Fort Garry United Church were “a dull, muddy brown-ish colour,” says executive director Tricia Robinson, and the team was looking out for a way to brighten its halls.

Monday, Nov. 22, 2021

Robin Love painted the Rainbow Portal mural inside the South Winnipeg Family Information Centre rented space in the basement of Fort Garry United Church. (Supplied)

Winnipeg Railway Museum to shutter at end of year

Julia-Simone Rutgers 3 minute read Preview

Winnipeg Railway Museum to shutter at end of year

Julia-Simone Rutgers 3 minute read Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021

The final boarding call has sounded for the Winnipeg Railway Museum — home of the iconic Countess of Dufferin steam locomotive.

Representatives for the museum, located at Via Rail's Union Station, announced Wednesday its doors will clank shut for good Dec. 31.

“We’ve been shut down essentially by new regulations," public relations director Gord Leathers said Wednesday. "One of the problems that we have is we are in a 100-year-old building that was really never designed with people in mind: it was designed with machinery in mind."

Leathers said the museum, on platforms 1 and 2 at historic Union Station, features spacious smoke channels in the ceiling and old stairwells built in the 1920s. Some of those charming historic features are no longer in compliance with City of Winnipeg regulations, Leathers said, though he has not seen the official list of necessary changes.

Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021

A Countess of Dufferin steam engine in the Winnipeg Railway Museum. It was the first steam locomotive on the prairies. (Alex Lupul / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Another dry year raises concern for future

Julia-Simone Rutgers 4 minute read Preview

Another dry year raises concern for future

Julia-Simone Rutgers 4 minute read Monday, Nov. 8, 2021

It’s been a long, dry year in Manitoba. Those used to frosty mornings and first licks of snow by this point in November, have instead been met with clear, sunny skies and unusually balmy days.

Despite the thrills of a warm mid-fall, agriculture and climate experts warn the dry year is part of a pattern that could have serious consequences in the future.

“We had a significant rainfall in mid-harvest which helped quite a bit, and another one about a month ago, which helped put some confidence in people to do some fall fertilization and some fall tillage to stimulate some pasture growth,” said Keystone Agricultural Producers president Bill Campbell.

“But that did not really get into the sub soil at all, so there’s huge concerns moving forward about what the sub-soil moisture levels will be in 2022.”

Monday, Nov. 8, 2021

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Low water levels on the Red River at St. Vital park in Winnipeg on Monday.

Harvest Manitoba mandates vaccines for staff, volunteers in preparation for holidays

Julia-Simone Rutgers 4 minute read Preview

Harvest Manitoba mandates vaccines for staff, volunteers in preparation for holidays

Julia-Simone Rutgers 4 minute read Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021

Manitoba’s largest food bank has implemented a new rule in preparation for the busy holiday season mandating that staff, volunteers and visitors are fully vaccinated.

Harvest Manitoba put the policy into effect Oct. 25 for its warehouse on Winnipeg Avenue; it mirrors the provincial requirement that requires all Manitobans age 12 and older to provide proof of vaccination and government-issued identification in order to enter restaurants, gyms and many other indoor public spaces.

The rule does not apply to clients or the food bank's agencies, Harvest Manitoba's president and CEO Vince Barletta said.

“What we’re trying to accomplish here is to have a facility at Harvest Manitoba that is in full compliance with our vaccination policy,” he said, adding the organization sends food hampers to more than 300 agencies across the province, and each has its own rules with respect to vaccination for those accessing services.

Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
Manitoba’s largest food bank has implemented a new rule in preparation for the busy holiday season mandating that staff, volunteers and visitors are fully vaccinated.

Warm temps keep golfers off their duffs

Julia-Simone Rutgers 3 minute read Preview

Warm temps keep golfers off their duffs

Julia-Simone Rutgers 3 minute read Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021

IT’S almost as good as a hole-in-one.

Two Winnipeg courses have decided to let golfers hit the links again — before the snow flies — thanks to unseasonably warm November weather.

“For the first time, just due to popular demand, we decided we’re going to do temporary greens and reopen the entire golf course,” said Jaclyn Steep, general manager of Southside Golf Course in Grande Pointe, on Wednesday.

“The fact that we can maybe get a couple of extra weeks here would be great for some of those people who aren’t quite ready to put the clubs away yet.”

Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021

Mike Sudoma / Winnipeg Free Press
Southside Golf Course Superintendent, Craig Campbell, cuts a temporary golf green Wednesday afternoon to get ready for a weekend full of golfers who will be taking advantage of the warmer temperatures this upcoming weekend.

Teacher hurt at unsafe door to receive $81K: judge

Julia-Simone Rutgers 4 minute read Preview

Teacher hurt at unsafe door to receive $81K: judge

Julia-Simone Rutgers 4 minute read Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021

A Virden-area school division will have to pay out more than $80,000, after a substitute teacher was injured in an incident involving a student.

In a decision delivered last week, a Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench judge ruled the Fort La Bosse School Division bears full responsibility for an Oct. 16, 2015, event in which a senior substitute teacher suffered a broken hip after a student flung open a door in a rush before class.

In the early morning, the then-16-year-old and a teammate were late for an out-of-town volleyball tournament. The Grade 11 student at Virden Collegiate Institute was “speed-walking” through the halls with his gym bag and a bag of volleyballs to meet his coach in the parking lot. The coach had told the teen to “hurry,” court documents show.

Arriving at a back door, unable to see through the high window and having his hands full with volleyball equipment, the teen pushed the door open with his hip, court records state. At the same time, 66-year-old Emma Lou Evanson was bending over to unlock the door with her staff key.

Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021

A Virden-area school division will have to pay out more than $80,000, after a substitute teacher was injured in an incident involving a student.

In a decision delivered last week, a Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench judge ruled the Fort La Bosse School Division bears full responsibility for an Oct. 16, 2015, event in which a senior substitute teacher suffered a broken hip after a student flung open a door in a rush before class.

In the early morning, the then-16-year-old and a teammate were late for an out-of-town volleyball tournament. The Grade 11 student at Virden Collegiate Institute was “speed-walking” through the halls with his gym bag and a bag of volleyballs to meet his coach in the parking lot. The coach had told the teen to “hurry,” court documents show.

Arriving at a back door, unable to see through the high window and having his hands full with volleyball equipment, the teen pushed the door open with his hip, court records state. At the same time, 66-year-old Emma Lou Evanson was bending over to unlock the door with her staff key.

MMF to invest in child care, seniors housing in The Pas

Julia-Simone Rutgers 4 minute read Preview

MMF to invest in child care, seniors housing in The Pas

Julia-Simone Rutgers 4 minute read Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021

The Manitoba Metis Federation is committing $10.3 million to develop affordable seniors housing and child care in The Pas.

At a news conference Tuesday in The Pas, the MMF announced the first major investment in the town in decades to build affordable housing complexes for Métis seniors, as well as a culturally-focused child care centre, a public park and a community garden, all a short walk from the Saskatchewan River.

“We know there’s a massive shortfall of daycare needed and of child care needed for families, we also know there’s a shortage of multi-family senior homes," MMF president David Chartrand said over the phone Tuesday.

Chartrand likens the new builds — which he expects to be up and running within approximately two years — to “a new subdivision.” A handful of duplexes and triplexes earmarked for seniors and multi-family living will be built adjacent to the new daycare centre and park in a cul-de-sac style.

Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
The Manitoba Metis Federation president David Chartrand. The MMF is committing $10.3 million to develop affordable seniors housing and child care in The Pas.

Rising demand for federal inquiry into Sixties Scoop

Julia-Simone Rutgers 4 minute read Preview

Rising demand for federal inquiry into Sixties Scoop

Julia-Simone Rutgers 4 minute read Monday, Nov. 1, 2021

Sixties Scoop survivor Teri Starr is on a long journey of healing, grappling with the pain of being removed from family and community just months after she was born.

"It's important for us to know that we as children were taken, and it wasn't because our parents didn't love us — I was told that was one of the reasons why I was taken, was because parents didn't love me, or community didn't love me," Starr said at a news conference Monday. "But it was due to a policy."

Starr, an Indigenous woman from Manitoba, was adopted at three months old by a non-Indigenous family. She counts her upbringing a "blessing," as she was raised in a "really good home," adding "many of the Sixties Scoop survivors cannot actually say that."

Joined by northern chiefs of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, Southern Chiefs’ Organization, and the director of the 60s Scoop Legacy of Canada, Starr spoke at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to call for a survivor-led and federally-funded inquiry into the multi-generational impacts of the program.

Monday, Nov. 1, 2021

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Sixties scoop survivor Teri Starr calls on the federal government to commission a national inquiry into the sixties scoop in Winnipeg on Monday.

Diwali celebrations dispel darkness of pandemic

Julia-Simone Rutgers 5 minute read Preview

Diwali celebrations dispel darkness of pandemic

Julia-Simone Rutgers 5 minute read Monday, Nov. 1, 2021

After nearly two years marked by the darkness of isolation, grief and loss, this year’s Diwali festival is set to herald new light, as Winnipeg’s Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities get together to feast, exchange gifts, and make memories once again.

Diwali, India Association of Manitoba’s board secretary Priyanka Singh explains, is one of India’s largest holidays. Celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and other religious groups from India and the surrounding area, there are several religious mythologies associated with the festival, she says. Across each tradition the foundational tenet remains: Diwali celebrates the victory of light over darkness, of good over evil, and — with worship of the Goddess Lakshmi — of prosperity.

“We light lanterns and do a prayer at home, we go out shopping and get new clothes, in India traditionally there are a lot of fireworks and families get together,” says Singh.

Though the festival traditionally lasts five days, the main holiday is celebrated in the middle of the week, this year it takes place on Nov. 4. In years past, Winnipeg held a Diwali Mela (meaning festival or fair) organized by the Hindu Society of Manitoba at the RBC Convention Centre.

Monday, Nov. 1, 2021

Harneet Aujla practises bhangra, a Punjabi folk dance, she will be performing with a group from Maples Collegiate for the Seven Oaks School Division Diwali festival. (Jessica Lee / Winnipeg Free Press)

Support for democracy in Sudan urged

Julia-Simone Rutgers 3 minute read Preview

Support for democracy in Sudan urged

Julia-Simone Rutgers 3 minute read Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021

“Something is going wrong in a country called Sudan,” Mekki Mohamed cried into a microphone on the front steps of Manitoba’s legislature Saturday. “We want democracy back.”

As Mohamed spoke, the nearly 60 people gathered below him cheered, affirming their support for citizens of a country torn apart by a violent military coup this week. Sudanese and Canadian flags waved high together above the crowd, as Sudanese-Canadian families and their supporters chanted “Action, action for Sudan.”

On Monday, Sudanese military leader Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan dissolved the country’s tenuous transitional government — where military and civilian leaders had shared power since ousting Omar al-Bashir in 2019 — by arresting civilians, including Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and his wife, and opening fire on civilian protesters.

Monday morning, Sudanese Canadians woke to the disturbing images of violence, “widespread arrest and torture” of civil protesters in their home country, Sudanese immigrant Hassan Babiker told the crowd gathered in Winnipeg Saturday.

Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021

“Something is going wrong in a country called Sudan,” Mekki Mohamed cried into a microphone on the front steps of Manitoba’s legislature Saturday. “We want democracy back.”

As Mohamed spoke, the nearly 60 people gathered below him cheered, affirming their support for citizens of a country torn apart by a violent military coup this week. Sudanese and Canadian flags waved high together above the crowd, as Sudanese-Canadian families and their supporters chanted “Action, action for Sudan.”

On Monday, Sudanese military leader Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan dissolved the country’s tenuous transitional government — where military and civilian leaders had shared power since ousting Omar al-Bashir in 2019 — by arresting civilians, including Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and his wife, and opening fire on civilian protesters.

Monday morning, Sudanese Canadians woke to the disturbing images of violence, “widespread arrest and torture” of civil protesters in their home country, Sudanese immigrant Hassan Babiker told the crowd gathered in Winnipeg Saturday.

Colourful costumes big part of Comiccon return

Julia-Simone Rutgers 4 minute read Preview

Colourful costumes big part of Comiccon return

Julia-Simone Rutgers 4 minute read Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021

Downtown Winnipeg flooded with valiant knights, battle-weary soldiers, Disney royalty and all manner of strange creatures Saturday — and it wasn’t just the early Halloween crowds.

After two years of waiting, Winnipeg’s Comiccon festival returned this weekend, bringing a colourful celebration of comic book, science fiction, TV, movie, anime and video game characters to the RBC Convention Centre. The festival was cancelled in 2020 owing to pandemic-related concerns.

Long rows of tightly-packed booths boasted art from some of Canada’s premier illustrators along with collectibles, apparel, and more. The family-friendly event played host to special guests like Lord of the Rings’ Billy Boyd, Star Trek’s John de Lancie and The Walking Dead’s Laurie Holden, who spoke at panels, signed autographs and posed for pictures with the excited crowd.

But the real highlight of any comic con celebration is the fans, who came decked out in cosplay — costumes depicting favourite characters from a variety of beloved pop-culture references — and relished in the chance to meet their idols, and mingle with their fellow comic fans.

Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021

Comic Con attendee Corbin Mader dresses up as the Goku from Dragon Ball Z Saturday morning at the RBC Convention Centre. (Mike Sudoma / Winnipeg Free Press)

Winnipeg high-rise residents decry compensation offer for weeks without water

Julia-Simone Rutgers 4 minute read Preview

Winnipeg high-rise residents decry compensation offer for weeks without water

Julia-Simone Rutgers 4 minute read Friday, Oct. 29, 2021

For two weeks, Walter Beaulieu’s routine was punctuated by a practice of hauling water.

Several times a day — sometimes late at night — he would load a shopping cart with buckets and bottles, make his way to the laundry room of a nearby building to fill up, and trek back to his wheelchair-bound neighbour’s apartment to help fill the toilet tank for a flush. Then, he would do it all over again for himself.

“It was just too much for me, I was having anxiety attacks, I was panicking all the time,” the 54-year-old tenant of 400 Webb Pl. says on a phone call this week.

“There were nights I would cry because I couldn’t do it all. And to see other people suffering like that? It was just like hell for us.”

Friday, Oct. 29, 2021

GABRIELLE PICHE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
Four port-a-potties line a central hallway in 400 Webb Place for residents to use. Between Sept. 17 and Oct. 1, many residents of the 21-storey downtown Winnipeg apartment building were responsible for hauling water to and from their suites after a pipe in the building burst.

Union seeks minimum wage hikes for security guards

Julia-Simone Rutgers 4 minute read Preview

Union seeks minimum wage hikes for security guards

Julia-Simone Rutgers 4 minute read Monday, Oct. 25, 2021

The minimum wage for security guards has been frozen for years despite the previous government’s instituting special remuneration more than two dollars above Manitoba’s general minimum wage.

As a government under a new Progressive Conservative leader looms, the union representing private security guards is asking the two Tory leadership candidates to commit to those minimum wage increases.

“When you hear about the anti-vaxxers, you hear about the anti-maskers, the people who believe that COVID is made up — they’re taking it out on the first person who tries to enforce the public health orders, which is quite often the security guard,” United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 834 president Jeff Traeger said.

“They’re getting the brunt of that anger, and in some cases, they’re being attacked violently.”

Monday, Oct. 25, 2021

The minimum wage for security guards has been frozen for years despite the previous government’s instituting special remuneration more than two dollars above Manitoba’s general minimum wage.

As a government under a new Progressive Conservative leader looms, the union representing private security guards is asking the two Tory leadership candidates to commit to those minimum wage increases.

“When you hear about the anti-vaxxers, you hear about the anti-maskers, the people who believe that COVID is made up — they’re taking it out on the first person who tries to enforce the public health orders, which is quite often the security guard,” United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 834 president Jeff Traeger said.

“They’re getting the brunt of that anger, and in some cases, they’re being attacked violently.”

Rising Stars helps youth with tutoring, training and mentorship programs

Julia-Simone Rutgers 6 minute read Preview

Rising Stars helps youth with tutoring, training and mentorship programs

Julia-Simone Rutgers 6 minute read Monday, Oct. 25, 2021

‘Have you ever asked yourself what is possible, or thought about the ability, your capabilities to change the world,” opens a poem by Eniola Soetan, a recipient of a bursary from the Rising Stars Foundation.

“That no matter who you are or what you do, the power to do something will always be running through you.”

Youth involved in the foundation showcased their athletic and academic skills in a virtual gala Thursday night.

Two participants — including Soetan, who spearheaded a recurring movie — were awarded bursaries for their contribution to their communities.

Monday, Oct. 25, 2021

MIKE SUDOMA / Winnipeg Free Press
Wilfred Sam-King, founder of the Rising Stars Foundation (left), with Rising Stars bursary winner Eniola Soetan, one of two program participants recognized for their contribution to their community, and Olympic medallist Jerome Blake.