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

Fishing for a ‘much brighter future’

Julia-Simone Rutgers 5 minute read Preview

Fishing for a ‘much brighter future’

Julia-Simone Rutgers 5 minute read Friday, Nov. 25, 2022

On Cedar Lake, some 460 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, members of the Chemawawin Cree Nation spend the summer and winter casting nets, looking to pull in schools of walleye, goldeye, lake whitefish and northern pike.

“It’s peaceful out there,” said Floyd George, president of Cedar Lake Fisheries Inc.

For the Chemawawin Cree, fishing on Cedar Lake is a way of life. Generations have set out on the lake; since the 1930s they’ve fished commercially under the banner of the Cedar Lake Fishery, which employs several members of the First Nation.

“That’s our livelihood, that’s how we feed our families,” said George, who has been fishing for more than 50 years. “It’s a big thing for us.”

Friday, Nov. 25, 2022

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Floyd George, president of Cedar Lake Fisheries Inc., says fishing on Cedar Lake is a way of life, and sustainable certification will ensure it will remain for the next generations.

In time of climate crisis, Manitoba unveils new water strategy

Julia-Simone Rutgers 9 minute read Preview

In time of climate crisis, Manitoba unveils new water strategy

Julia-Simone Rutgers 9 minute read Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022

From nutrient-rich wetlands and 100,000 lakes to a dry southern region and an Arctic port, Manitoba is a province defined by water — after all, nearly a fifth of the province is covered in it.

Now, in an update nearly 20 years in the waiting, the Manitoba government has released a strategy to manage its water resources — factoring in the impacts of a warming climate for the first time.

The Manitoba water strategy, released earlier this month, is a far-reaching document covering conservation, climate resilience, water scarcity, biodiversity and infrastructure.

According to Dimple Roy, a water policy expert with the International Institute for Sustainable Development, a Winnipeg-based think tank, Manitoba’s water strategy takes a “broad brushstrokes” approach that lacks detail.

Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson announces the province’s new water strategy on Nov. 8. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Seal River Watershed Alliance paddle to preserve one of the world’s largest remaining intact watersheds

Julia-Simone Rutgers 14 minute read Preview

Seal River Watershed Alliance paddle to preserve one of the world’s largest remaining intact watersheds

Julia-Simone Rutgers 14 minute read Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022

It had been a stormy August week in Tadoule Lake, nearly 1,000 kilometres north of Winnipeg. Days of lightning and rain had darkened the skies over the 325-person community and Stephanie Thorassie was praying for sun.

In a matter of days she and a group of youth from four Manitoba First Nations were set to embark on a seven-day canoe trip to the source of the Seal River, the 260-kilometre undammed river flowing through northern Manitoba into Hudson Bay. The night before the trip was mired by storms, but new light — and clear blue skies — finally broke through in the morning.

As the group prepared to set off from a beach on Tadoule Lake, laying tobacco in the water and praying for good weather on their trip, a group of community members urged them to make a detour to a second beach before embarking on their first five-hour stint across the open lake. The team agreed and turned their boats around.

“Just as we turned the last point a bald eagle flew over us,” Thorassie recalls. “And we see how the community is standing on the beach with their vehicles and their quads, all honking their horns and showing us this incredible support.”

Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022

JORDAN MELOGRANA / SEAL RIVER WATERSHED INDIGENOUS PROTECTED AREA INITIATIVE

The Seal River Watershed Alliance’s Indigenous guardians program kicked off this summer with a canoe trip to the source of the Seal River.

Shades of green: A review of mayoral candidates’ climate-related campaign promises

Julia-Simone Rutgers 10 minute read Preview

Shades of green: A review of mayoral candidates’ climate-related campaign promises

Julia-Simone Rutgers 10 minute read Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022

Cities are on the front lines of climate adaptation. They manage the day-in, day-out impacts of warmer, wetter and more extreme weather.

That’s a big responsibility — it isn’t cheap — and municipalities aren’t exactly known for raking in revenue. While much of the conversation around climate adaptation focuses on what federal and provincial governments are doing, cities also have a role to play. Even on a tight budget, there are plenty of ways they can plan for a more resilient, less-polluting future.

As Winnipeggers, who live in a city dubbed one of the coldest on the planet, head to the polls Wednesday to choose a new mayor and council, we’re taking a look at candidates’ climate-related campaign promises.

Though climate change has not exactly been the campaign’s top talking point — one candidate even said, “I am not a climate cultist” when asked how she would help the city achieve a net-zero future — the people on the ballot have each made promises that could help Winnipeg move towards a more sustainable future.

Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022

PHIL HOSSACK / FREE PRESS FILES

81 per cent of weekday trips are made by personal vehicle, and greenhouse-gas emissions from transportation make up just over half of the overall emissions profile.

Climate change will only worsen Winnipeg's roadway issues

Julia-Simone Rutgers 16 minute read Preview

Climate change will only worsen Winnipeg's roadway issues

Julia-Simone Rutgers 16 minute read Friday, Oct. 21, 2022

It’s a familiar sight: On a service road in Winnipeg’s Linden Woods neighbourhood, city workers shovel tarry, black asphalt into a small crater in the road while a third crew member perches atop a steamroller, ready to compact the fresh filling and seal the pothole off.

In a matter of minutes the crew will move on to another pothole, then another still. In less than an hour they’ll move to a new street and start again. The handful of holes the crew will tackle in this neighbourhood are some of the nearly a quarter of a million city crews have filled this year — with thousands still remaining — after spring storms resulted in record deterioration of city streets.

In late April, Manitoba Public Insurance, the Crown corporation in charge of vehicle claims, sounded the alarm: It was already looking like a monumental year for pothole damage. Typically, the corporation sees an average of around 359 pothole damage claims per year. This year, they had nearly 500 claims by the end of March, and over 2,000 claims by June, the corporation says.

As every city motorist knows, Winnipeg has long had a pothole problem — drivers routinely veer and swerve to avoid slamming into the multitude of craters dotting city streets. Some potholes were so deep this year, they revealed the long-forgotten streetcar tracks buried beneath the concrete. And the problem is only going to get worse. Wetter, harsher, warmer weather is predicted to pummel the Prairies as climate change intensifies across Canada, and those conditions present unique, chronic challenges for the city’s network of old roads.

Friday, Oct. 21, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

A 2021 CAA study found the average Canadian driver spends an extra $126 on their car per year thanks to poor road conditions.

It’s a race against time to keep Winnipeg's older tree canopies alive

Julia-Simone Rutgers 15 minute read Preview

It’s a race against time to keep Winnipeg's older tree canopies alive

Julia-Simone Rutgers 15 minute read Thursday, Sep. 29, 2022

On the corner of Lilac Street and Mulvey Avenue, three tall, stately American elm trees bear an ominous orange dot. It’s Winnipeg’s mark of death: the familiar, telltale sign that a tree won’t live through the coming winter.

It marks the tree as one of thousands of victims of Dutch elm disease, a fungal wilt spread by elm bark beetles that’s plagued the city’s trees since 1975. For many Winnipeggers, it’s a sign of mourning.

“The elms have gone down fast on this street,” says Julie Price, who lives on Mulvey between Lilac and Wentworth streets. Five or six years ago, Price says, mature elms lined these boulevards, their leafy archways cradling the street below.

“And then I started watching giant after giant coming down. It feels like a funeral every time that happens.”

Thursday, Sep. 29, 2022

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS A tell-tale sign of Dutch elm disease is wilting branches.

Lighting a fire under geothermal

Julia-Simone Rutgers 7 minute read Preview

Lighting a fire under geothermal

Julia-Simone Rutgers 7 minute read Thursday, Sep. 1, 2022

The West Kildonan Memorial Community Centre is starting to show its age.

In recent years, the 75-year-old building with its drab grey exterior and low-slung roof, is just not as appealing when compared to newer arenas nearby. The centre’s losses are mounting as it faces the ice-cold reality of declining revenues and rising maintenance costs.

Coun. Ross Eadie (Mynarski) is looking for ways to keep the lights on.

A motion passed at City of Winnipeg council in May freed up $8 million in provincial funds for the city’s aging arenas. Eadie says it provides an opportunity to breathe new life into the buildings and turn them into green energy sources for their neighbourhoods by replacing old natural gas heating systems with geothermal energy. Doing so, he says, will cut costs, reduce pollution and potentially generate a little revenue.

Thursday, Sep. 1, 2022

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The West Kildonan Memorial arena is starting to show its age.

Country’s leading electric bus maker hopes to ride wave of zero-emission transit technology

Julia-Simone Rutgers 22 minute read Preview

Country’s leading electric bus maker hopes to ride wave of zero-emission transit technology

Julia-Simone Rutgers 22 minute read Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022

In a sprawling 350,000-square-foot factory on the eastern edge of Winnipeg, hundreds of workers are leading the public transit revolution.

Production in the long, narrow New Flyer Industries plant is moving like clockwork, as employees transform piles of steel frame parts into massive, colourful transit bus shells for cities all across Canada and the United States.

It starts in the weld shop, where it takes about 20,000 welds to transform slabs of steel into massive bus frames. A long track runs the length of the factory floor, allowing one frame at a time to be carted through a series of workstations, where employees apply corrosion protection, fit fibreglass panels, caulk joints, install electrical parts, paint, and attach finishing touches like windows and lights. At the end of the line, finished bus shells are lifted — without doors, wheels, batteries or engines — onto flatbed trailers and trucked out to a facility in Minnesota for the final assembly.

Many of the buses will later be fitted with battery-powered propulsion systems, helping fill a growing share of orders for new, zero-emission transit technology. With nearly 100 years of history in the bus-making industry — electric buses are now what New Flyer does best.

Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022

Bus shells are assembled in the massive New Flyer factory in Transcona. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

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.

“I don’t have nowhere else to live,” he says. “So, I have no choice but to try to fight for it.”

Saturday, Jul. 30, 2022

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

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.

LeBlanc then lines the bin with a new, compostable bag before wheeling the green tub back into place among this particular condominium’s other garbage and recycling bins.

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.

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)