NorWest turns 50


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NorWest Co-op Community Health is celebrating its 50th birthday with a video series, 50 Success Stories, highlighting its members, clients and decades of achievement.

Each video is one to one-and-a-half minutes long and features personal accounts, many from the perspective of NorWest Co-op Community Health clients, about how the organization has made a positive impact on their lives.

One video shows a man telling his story of how NorWest helped him battle an addiction. In another video, a man grieving the loss of multiple family members spoke of the meaningful and timely counsel he received through NorWest. One elderly woman gushed about her admiration for NorWest Alexander and its people — going as far as to say the centre is a major reason why she’s remained in the neighbourhood.

Photo by Katlyn Streilein

The team at NorWest Co-op Community Health celebrated the organization’s 50th anniversary on Nov. 23.

The success story participants were recruited primarily through word of mouth, but also through calls on social media and newspaper advertisements. Some footage used in the series was shot during NorWest’s well-attended 50th-anniversary celebration.

Other videos are told from the perspective of NorWest staff members and volunteers, outlining their hopes for the organization in the years to come.

“To hear people talk about the impact of their involvement with NorWest was just so heartwarming … To see the impact we’ve made on our community in 50 years,” said Nancy Heinrichs, executive director of NorWest Co-op Community Health.

Most of the 50 Success Stories are live on the organization’s YouTube channel, which can be accessed through the homepage of the centre’s website ( The final videos will go live in the coming days and weeks. The series has already made its debut on TVs inside the common areas at NorWest sites.

The series was created by videographer Aryan Sehgal of Dream Stone Media. Sehgal is familiar with the community NorWest serves, having grown up in the Inkster neighbourhood.

There are currently nine branches of NorWest Co-op Community Health: A Woman’s Place, which provides legal services for women leaving an abusive relationship; Access NorWest; Blake Gardens Resource Centre; Bluebird Clinic; Child Care Centres; Community Food Centre; Gilbert Park Resource Centre; Huddle NorWest Youth Hub; and NorWest on Alexander Resource Centre (NOA).

Another bricks-and-mortar centre is set to open on Notre Dame Avenue in the new year.

“Our goal has been to identify the gaps in the areas that we serve and to be able to fill them,” Heinrichs said. “We’ve been very fortunate to have started a number of programs to meet those needs.”

Heinrichs has been with the co-op for 21 years. When she started, the organization had about 30 staff. It now employs roughly 180 individuals.

Photo by Katlyn Streilein

NorWest Co-op Community Health board member Laryssa Sawchuk was awarded The Winnipeg Foundation Emerging Leaders Fellowship. The 50 Success Stories project was funded through The Winnipeg Foundation’s Centennial Institute.

The 50 Success Stories series was created with the support of a grant from The Winnipeg Foundation’s Centennial Institute. The funding was delivered through the Winnipeg Foundation’s Emerging Leaders Fellowship, which was awarded to Laryssa Sawchuk.

The 31-year-old has served on NorWest’s board for eight years. Sawchuk got involved after touring NorWest’s community food centre. She was interested in what she saw and wanted to get involved in a leadership capacity.

Years later, Sawchuk seized the opportunity to do something special to mark NorWest’s 50th.

“To have the programs recognized in this special way — that’s really exciting,” she said. “Beyond this, there’s going to be a lot of opportunity for the organization to use these videos to promote itself. As well, to recognize the great effects it’s had on people’s lives.”

Sawchuk looks forward to seeing what new programs or services NorWest will devise to meet the community’s needs.

NorWest is currently working on a documentary about its history. This film was also made possible by the Winnipeg Foundation.

Katlyn Streilein

Katlyn Streilein
Community Journalist

Katlyn Streilein was a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review.

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