Charleswood community correspondent
Donna Minkus is a community correspondent for Charleswood.
Recent articles of Donna Minkus
As a community correspondent for Charleswood, I’ve been writing a column for The Metro (now Free Press Community Review West) for the past five or six years. I started doing some freelance writing after I retired and The Metro was one of the assignments I landed. During that time, I have written about a range of issues and events about and surrounding the Charleswood community. But the majority of topics have involved Charleswood’s past. For instance, I often covered the Charleswood Historical Society’s presentations, writing articles about how Charleswood came to be the community it is today, highlighting many of the leaders who have contributed to its development.
While I have enjoyed sharing with readers what I have learned about the history of Charleswood, I have started to wonder if I should be looking for more opportunities to write about Charleswood’s future. In particular, the future of the business community.
During the 33 years I have lived in Charleswood, I have seen some closures, changes of ownership and a few new businesses. But I can’t say I have seen a lot of growth. Maybe I’m not in the know or perhaps that’s normal for suburban businesses — but does it have to be? Shouldn’t those who have to courage to start a business in our community be able to find a path to sustainability?
Some support systems are available for businesses. For example, Myrna Driedger, MLA for Charleswood, sends regular emails to community leaders advising them about events, updates and opportunities that affect the business community and the community at large. There is also an established network that provides supports to businesses in the city’s western communities. The Assiniboia Chamber of Commerce acts as a guide for business owners to access information and resources and also provides networking opportunities. According to its website, 4,000 businesses in the western part of the city are taking advantage of this organization. Those who haven’t made that connection yet may want to think about doing so in the near future.
Anyone interested in learning about the history of Charleswood will want to spend a couple hours wandering around the Charleswood Historical Society Museum, where you’ll not only get a glimpse of the past through the hundreds of artifacts on display, you will also hear about the families who settled in the area, and became influential in Charleswood’s heritage.
Located at 5006 Roblin Blvd., the museum is a small space in the old municipal building, which also houses 55-plus Active Living. While the space is a little tight for the myriad of pictures, memorabilia and items from days gone by, the recently revamped museum boasts new shelving and display cases that allow artifacts to be displayed more efficiently.
Upon entering the museum, the first display you’ll see is an antiquated wicket flanked by numbered letter boxes. This was the original Charleswood post office, which was located in Kelly General store — the main store in Charleswood in the early 1900s.
Historical pieces are displayed in chronological order, starting with the buffalo, and artifacts from First Nations and Métis history. Compartmentalized “rooms” showcase items that would have been used in that era. For example, the kitchen features a coal-oil stove (used in summer when a wood-burning stove would make a room too hot), cooking utensils and wooden storage containers for items such as flour and bread.
As a resident of Charleswood who frequents the Charleswood mall — there are few stores on the strip that I’m not in weekly and if we’re talking Safeway and Shoppers it’s more like daily — I was pleasantly surprised to find most customers stayed masked during that brief period when they we were allowed to unmask.
They wore them even though they weren’t required to do so and most outlets didn’t require mask use. Some threw caution to the wind, however, so here we are back to mandatory masking indoors and pulling out our vaccine card to gain entry into many establishments.
The government or regional health or whoever makes decisions about loosening restrictions assumed the unvaccinated were responsible enough to get their shot so they could not only protect themselves but others around them. Now there is no choice in the matter. Front-line workers must get vaccinated.
Despite the flip-flopping on mask-wearing and delay in vaccine mandate, this is one of the times I agree with a government decision to mandate for the public good. I am not a proponent of government superseding individual rights. But when the rights of individuals put others at risk, those rights are forfeited.
By the time this column comes out, some of the provincial public health restrictions may have been lifted and we’ll be on our way back to something that resembles normal life.
Let’s hope so because like many, I’m beginning to feel like I’m living in another dimension. One where aloneness is the required state.
I’ve been reviewing the ups and downs, sidesteps and backtracking of the protocol measures that have been in place over the past 15 months or so and it is little wonder many of us are feeling conflicted.
Last spring, when the restrictions began, we knew what to do and we were OK with them, because we thought this would last only for a short time. It was once restrictions start changing that things got confusing.
It was reassuring to read Cindy Gilroy’s column (“Putting a focus on affordable housing needs,” The Metro, Jan. 20) issue of in which she stated that the City of Winnipeg had made a $2 million investment in affordable housing from the federal Safe Restart funds.
Gilroy went on to say that she is committed to working with City Hall to develop a housing plan that addresses a growing gap in affordable housing.
Having recently reconnected with the Right to Housing Coalition - an organization that advocates for affordable housing for low-income people in our city and province - I became aware that, while the investment was welcome news, it doesn’t begin to solve the problem of inadequate affordable housing.
According to Right to Housing, there are over 9,000 households on the wait list for public housing in Manitoba. On any given night there are 1,500 homeless people in Winnipeg. These numbers will grow if the province continues to sell public housing.
A line from the movie The Godfather: Part III comes to mind while reflecting on the recent COVID-19 numbers.
In that film, Al Pacino as Michael Corleone says “just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”I think many of us are feeling that way. We thought we were out of the COVID woods (so to speak) but here we are, pretty much back to where we were in March. Hopefully this surge in numbers is a short-term situation.
What seems like just a few days ago, I woke up to what I call the sounds of the city: the hum of traffic, cars starting, kids talking as everyone prepared for their day at work or school. I thought we were back to normal.
A little too optimistic, I’m afraid. But I’m not going to use my space to complain about the current state of affairs. In fact, as a baby boomer, I feel pretty fortunate to have reached a stage in life where the coronavirus is the first universal challenge our generation has had to contend with.