The things you learn when out for a walk…


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 02/02/2021 (849 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

One day last month I looked out the window and it was finally snowing — all two inches of the white stuff. It was so unusual for us in Manitoba to be experiencing snow-less surroundings two weeks into December.

Some days the temperature went up to 7 C. If ever there was cause to think about global warming, this was it. Instead, I chose to savour the weather and went for a walk down the street.

How do you describe the smell of air? Heady stuff — I was feeling fortunate to be here at all, in view of the number of seniors disproportionately becoming victims of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was a lilt in my step as I moved northward. Up ahead, screaming for my attention, was a rainbow flag on the electronic billboard right smack in front of the local church.

Could that flag be the Pride symbol? I’m more conversant with that topic today than I was back in the 1980s, when I purchased a summer handbag in Hawaii in those very colours that would go with any outfit I’d choose to wear. Little did I know then that this was also the colour combination that the LGBTQ community would claim as their own way of expressing inclusion.

As if that wasn’t enough to take my thoughts back into the real world, I read the message on the billboard: “All God’s children need a washroom.”

Well, who would argue with that? But why was a church advertising something we all take for granted?

The next line was in language I’m not comfortable printing —  
In the quiet of my private suite I gave in to curiosity and logged in to the address.

Another jarring surprise — it advertised a concert elsewhere which I’d previously been invited to watch, and included the line: “And since we’ve no place to go…”  

Could the two ideas be related? A friend who knows of the venue, Oak Table (at 109 Pulford Ave.), says it is a drop-in centre for their ‘guests’ — anyone needing a meal or a place to rest or a smile. Their mission is to help “the most vulnerable and least-loved in the city.”

To her, the caption means exactly what it says — Oak Table offers a place to go if you are bereft of benefits the rest of us take for granted.

Someone else added this succinct statement: “It’s not just about the need for washrooms — it’s about treating people with dignity.”

Having brought these topics out into the open, I dropped my investigation. On another balmy day I found myself smiling at the new admonishment at the same church billboard: “Thou shalt not COVID thy neighbour’s life. Wear a mask.”

Witty and equally relevant.

Anne Yanchyshyn is a community correspondent for St. Vital. Email her at

Anne Yanchyshyn

Anne Yanchyshyn
St. Vital community correspondent

Anne Yanchyshyn is a community correspondent for St. Vital.

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