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This article was published 2/1/2017 (964 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Communities in southwest Winnipeg proved that despite the hardships, challenges, and upset that 2016 presented, hope can be found by rallying together.
The South Osborne Syrian Refugee Initiative began humbly in the hall of Churchill Park United Church and has gone on to change the lives of over a dozen people affected by war.
Improving relationships with Indigenous communities was at the forefront of many discussions in southwest Winnipeg, and when the gates to Kapyong Barracks were opened by Canadian Forces to host an Indigenous ceremony, organizers described the gesture as reconciliation in action.
When faced with a proposal that some people believed would drastically change the character of their neighborhood, neighbours joined to establish the Corydon-Osborne Community Voice to guide development in Earl Grey.
Though the past year was characterized by adversity, the resolve of the community to find a better way forward together is what rightly defined 2016.
January: Communities rally for others
The South Osborne Syrian Refugee Initiative (SOSRI) officially began its fundraising initiatives in January 2016, with the goal of collecting $60,000 to bring two families to Winnipeg.
The grassroots organization that today involves approximately 200 people from the Fort Rouge area and Churchill Park United Church banded together to support Winnipeggers Joseph Chaeban and Zainab Ali.
The couple’s family members were scattered across Turkey and Lebanon after fleeing war in Syria. In less than a week, the community raised $30,000. The group succeeded in raising $73,000 following a benefit concert at The Park Theatre on Jan. 19, and announced a third family would be sponsored.
Fort Garry’s Doug Jacobs was memorialized by the community with a plaque installed at the Victoria site of the Fort Garry Community Centre.
Jacobs died on July 28, 2015 at 27-years-old from a brain aneurysm. Jacobs was a plumber and volunteer with the centre who spent dozens of hours on the ice at the outdoor rink with his team, the General Jim’s.
The plaque was unveiled on Dec. 30, 2015.
February: One door closes, another opens
Members of the Parker Wetlands Conservation Committee and residents from Fort Garry protested a proposed development in the Parker lands, located east of Waverley, south of the CN mainline and north of Parker Avenue.
On Feb. 10, developer Gem Equities laid out its preliminary plans for transit-oriented development in the wetland at the Holiday Inn South during a public open house. About a dozen people picketed the three-hour information session.
On Jan. 27, longtime Fort Rouge NDP MLA Jennifer Howard announced she would not seek re-election in April. First elected in Fort Rouge in 2007, Howard said she decided to step away from politics to spend more time with her young family and had accepted a job in Ottawa.
Wab Kinew, an author, advocate, and the University of Winnipeg’s former associate vice-president of Indigenous affairs, announced his candidacy with the New Democratic Party in Fort Rouge on Feb. 2.
Luxalune Gastropub (734 Osborne St.) owners Chris and Lawrence Warwaruk announced the would shutter the neighbourhood bar and restaurant on Feb. 13.
The two brothers, who are also owners of Farmery Estate Brewery, said closing Luxalune would allow them to focus on developing the Farmery business out in Neepawa, Man.
March: New starts for local talent
One of River Heights’ finest athletes inked a contract to compete with the University of Arizona in March.
Grant Park High School grad Jennie Baragar-Petrash committed to NCAA school University of Arizona to run on the Division 1 cross-country team. The Optimist Athletics Club member twice competed for junior Team Canada during her high school career.
Waverley Heights based hip-hop group The Lytics released their EP, Hold On, on March 25, marking a change in their approach to music.
In 2016, the group embraced the old school boom-bap sound found on Hold On and took their talents to SXSW and to Europe for the festival season, where they have built a dedicated following.
St. Paul’s High School Crusaders claimed victory over the Vincent Massey Collegiate Trojans in the AAAA provincial high school hockey championships on March 14.
The team secured the championship title with an empty net goal in the final minutes and a score of 3-1.
The Crusaders had met the Trojans at least six times previously, and the two teams traded wins and losses, with VMC knocking St. Paul’s out of the city finals earlier in the year.
April: Province changes hands
A number of southwest Winnipeg constituencies went from NDP orange to PC blue on April 19.
The province elected Fort Whyte MLA Brian Pallister and his Progressive Conservatives to a majority government in the Legislature, ousting the reigning NDP.
In St. Norbert, PC Jon Reyes won 50.39 per cent of the vote against NDP incumbent Dave Gaudreau.
"I want to be the best representative that I can be for (the voters) and also develop relationships with the people who didn’t support me because I’ll have to earn their trust through action," Reyes said at the time.
In Fort Richmond, NDP incumbent Kerri Irvin-Ross was defeated by the PC’s Sarah Guillemard.
Guillemard, a local community advocate and mother of four, commanded an impressive 2,874 votes (43.82 per cent) over Irvin-Ross, who served as Manitoba’s Minister of Family Services.
"I’m leaving standing tall," Irvin-Ross said following defeat. "I really believe in the policies and programs that we put forward for Manitobans, and I believe very strongly that Manitoba is stronger today because of that."
In River Heights, Liberal MLA Jon Gerrard held onto his seat despite Liberal leader Rana Bokhari losing in Fort Rouge to the NDP’s Wab Kinew.
Gerrard was elected for the fifth time and earned 5,224 votes, beating runner-up PC candidate Tracey Maconachie who received 3,471 votes.
"I’m really pleased and delighted that people in River Heights have supported me substantially in the way that they did," Gerrard said.
Bokhari, however, avoided facing defeat following her loss to Kinew, opting not to give a concession speech to her supporters and scrumming with reporters instead.
"We had a tough game, we were running with zero dollars and a fraction of the resources, with a lot of negativity but we had fantastic candidates, fantastic volunteers and we did what we could with what we had," she said.
Kinew was in a tight race with the PC’s Audrey Gordon and Bokhari, but managed to pull away with 3,353 votes (37.15 per cent). Gordon earned 2,563 votes and Bokhari claimed 1,779 votes.
Tuxedo MLA Heather Stefanson held onto her seat for the Progressive Conservatives and was later named Minister of Justice and Attorney General by Pallister.
Fort Garry-Riverview MLA James Allum also returned to the Legislature, beating PC candidate Jeannette Montufar by 298 votes.
May: Turning the tables
A mainstay of Fort Rouge’s dining scene, The Round Table announced it will close its doors after 42 years in business.
Owner Kristjan Kristjansson said the closure would make way for a new and ambitious food and drink establishment. The new restaurant, Brazen Hall, is expected to have a craft brewery and distillery component and will open in the New Year.
The St. Norbert based Shakespeare in the Ruins (SIR) put on a performance of Richard III that broke barriers and made national news.
Directed by Christopher Brauer and starring Debbie Patterson as Richard, SIR’s reimagining of the classic tragedy challenged notions of disability in the contemporary and historical context, and was the first professional production in Canada to cast a disabled actor in the lead role.
Patterson was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 18 years ago and said perceptions of disability are skewed because of the lack of representation in the arts and media, and it’s her mission to keep acting.
"It’s something that I really wanted to do because I’m living with a disability, and there aren’t a lot of actors with disabilities, almost none, working in the country now," she explained. "So I felt it was really important for this play to be done with an actor with a disability in the title role."
June: Reconciliation, recognition, and rezonings
For a week in June, the Kapyong Barracks played host to a series of Indigenous ceremonies and demonstrators.
On May 31, members of the Department of National Defence and 17 Wing unlocked the former military base to allow Kylo Prince and a number of other Indigenous activists, supporters, and healers to set up a ceremonial space in the yard off Morpeth Boulevard.
"This is a high-profile place. Our ceremonies deserve that. They’ve been kept hidden for so long that some of our own people don’t know," Prince said.
Winnipeg’s "founding father of modern soccer" Ralph Cantafio was honoured when the Winnipeg Soccer Complex was renamed after him.
Cantafio was instrumental in bringing the Winnipeg Fury to town and played a major role in the creation of the 2,000-seat outdoor complex at 900 Waverley St.
"I never thought I would be recognized by the community. I can’t thank these people enough," he said. "I’ve never expected something in return for anything that I’ve done. I’ve done it for the kids, for soccer in general because that’s my passion, and for the city and the province."
Residents in the Earl Grey and McMillan neighbourhoods decided to take a stand against the city after planners proposed to rezone 950 properties.
The Corydon Osborne Area Plan called for a mass rezoning of homes in the two neighbourhoods from R1 to R2. Local residents formed a group, called Corydon-Osborne Community Voice, in response to the proposal and through meetings and a Facebook forum, the group identified a number of concerns with the rezoning, including ongoing development that they say negatively affected adjacent properties.
The group successfully lobbied and protested, resulting in the abandonment of the mass R1 to R2 rezoning by the city.
July: Multi-faith coalition welcomes Yazidis to Winnipeg
Operation Ezra welcomed the first Yazidi family to Winnipeg in July.
On July 11, the Nasos arrived in Winnipeg after being delayed in Istanbul, Turkey following a suicide bomber attack on the airport.
The family had been living in a refugee camp for years after fleeing persecution in Iraq by ISIL.
"I feel so happy and so excited for my family and it’s so nice to see so many wonderful people around," Khudher Naso said. "It’s a great place and I’m looking forward to the future."
Operation Ezra is a coalition of Winnipeg and Manitoba-based religious and community organizations that have worked together to raise over $250,000 to sponsor, house and support seven Yazidi families (a total of 42 people). Groups involved in the relief project include the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, Shaarey Zedek Synagogue, Adas Yeshurun Herzlia Congregation, Gray Academy of Jewish Education, Jewish Child and Family Service, Rady Jewish Community Centre, Pembina Mennonite Fellowship Church, Mennonite Central Committee and many more.
According to Operation Ezra, Yazidis are a monotheistic people without a homeland and the population has been decimated from 23 million to 700,000.
August: Striking a new deal, remembering Jo
Youth crisis workers at Macdonald Youth Services (MYS) walked off the job in August after two years without a contract.
Twenty-eight youth crisis stabilization workers from the River-Osborne based centre took strike action on Aug. 2. The workers were asking for a wage increase of about $96,000 over four years, or 50 cents more an hour, a spokesperson said.
The Manitoba Government and General Employees Union struck a return to work agreement with Macdonald Youth Services on Aug. 19 that saw youth crisis stabilization workers leave the picket line. The agreement was negotiated after the provincial government provided formal notice that funding to MYS would be frozen, and that the province is prohibiting MYS from using its budget surplus to fund a settlement with front-line workers, the MGEU said.
South Osborne became home to a new producers’ market with the arrival of the Farm Fresh Food Hub in the South Osborne Xchange.
The South Osborne Farmers’ Market, a pilot project by the Farm Fresh Food Hub co-operative, featured small scale regional farmers from around Manitoba producing spray-free and sustainable food. The weekly market was also the first step towards an innovative food storage, distribution and aggregation facility.
The running community came together to remember one of their own this year.
On Aug. 30, about 100 people gathered at Assiniboine Park to run for Joanne Schiewe who died on Aug. 29.
A River Heights resident, Schiewe was well-known in the city for her efforts to raise money for brain cancer research (over $80,000) and her participation in Ironman races, triathlons and local running events. She was diagnosed with glioblastoma in February 2015.
September: Preparing for the future
The Churchill High School Bulldogs football team was surprised with new jerseys, helmets and cleats this year.
The $10,000 gift was from the Nissan Kickoff Project and head coach Kirkland Harper said the new equipment will revitalize the program in coming years.
"It’s amazing that we were given such a big donation of helmets, uniforms and cleats. It’s huge for our program. It can get a lot more kids playing football in our school," Harper told The Sou’wester.
October: Pavilion gets a facelift, Olfert leading Jets fans
The Pavilion at Assiniboine Park got a new lease on life following a $2.3 million renovation.
The gallery space was completely refreshed and officials announced a new partnership with the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG), to provide curatorial service.
The grand reopening also featured the unveiling of a sculpture by renowned artist Ivan Eyre titled Plains Call.
Linden Woods’ Trevor Olfert was selected as the new organist for the Jets and True North Sports and Entertainment.
Olfert, a longtime musician and director of the Open Sky Orchestra, is responsible for the entertaining the crowd during Jets home games on the organ (six MIDI keyboards) with a repertoire of 200 songs and crowd prompts to choose from.
November: Championships and strike action
The St. Paul’s Crusaders earned another W in 2016 when the football team won the ANAVETS Bowl on Nov. 10.
The AAA team beat the Vincent Massey Trojans 17-8 in the Winnipeg High School Football Leagues’s final game at Investors Group Field. The tilt was a repeat matchup of last year’s final, and this time the Crusaders found redemption against the defending titleholders.
Professors at the University of Manitoba ended a three week strike on Nov. 21 after the University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) ratified a one-year collective agreement with the University of Manitoba administration.
The strike affected thousands of students at the university, pushing some exams into January. The new agreement will expire at the end of March 2017.
December: Breaking ground
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in Manitoba celebrated the ground breaking of the first temple in the province on Dec. 1.
The new 17,000-square-foot temple will be built in Bridgwater Centre and is expected to take two years to construct. According to officials, the design for the temple draws inspiration from the churches of early Winnipeg and features a stone exterior, large sloped roof, and copper steeple over the main entrance.
St. Mary’s Academy celebrated winning back-to-back high school volleyball championships on Dec. 5 after defeating Brandon’s Vincent Massey Vikings in the AAAA varsity final.
The Flames defeated the Vikings in three sets (25-15, 25-20, and 25-14) at Investors Group Athletic Centre. Led by coach Christine Rewniak, the team finished the season with just two losses
Danielle Da Silva
Community journalist — The Sou'wester
Danielle Da Silva is the community journalist for The Sou'wester. Email her at email@example.com