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“If Every Person in Manitoba Picked Up A Piece of Litter, That’s a Million Pieces of Litter Every Day”

After each long winter, Manitobans eagerly await the warm embrace of the summer. However, there’s a long stretch of muddy streets, dirty buildings, and trash-filled roads before summer’s embrace arrives. 

Litter and graffiti not only bring down an area’s visual appeal but also affect our psychology. Exposure to littered environments can evoke feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression. Polluted areas increase the risk of respiratory diseases and infections, as well as the risk of injury from broken metal, glass, and discarded needles. A local non-profit is working to change that, inspiring individuals on how they see their communities and how they engage with them. 

Take Pride Winnipeg engages the Winnipeg community in many ways, including spring cleaning events, providing supplies for clean-up projects, speaking engagements with schools and students, and beautification efforts like Winnipeg in Bloom and murals on older buildings. Although it hasn’t been around for a few years, Take Pride Winnipeg’s Executive Director, Tom Ethans, says they anticipate it may come back soon. 

Established in 1991 by the City of Winnipeg and BFI Canada, the organization found its feet when Ethans took over as executive director in 1997. “I saw the value in making our city and province a better palace to live,” says Ethans. “I love this province, I love this city, and I felt like I could help make a difference. I could show some new ways to increase the overall pride in the province to make people feel better about themselves and that everyone has to work together in order to make a difference.”

Winnipeg in Bloom and murals are just the beginning of the program initiatives through the organization, with education being the bedrock, with various education programs run through the school system. The first is conversations with grades K through 12, discussing the importance of taking pride and taking action in one’s community. Take Pride in Reading covers environmental stories for kindergarten to grade four while engaging them in games and activities. Most importantly, these are completely free. “It’s always positive, it’s always good, and we’ve been in 45 schools since January.”

Ethans says it’s important to engage our youngest generations and instill a sense of purpose and unity in them to accomplish tasks that feel bigger than our own. Not only does it affect the physical appearance, but cleaning up a community can significantly improve mental health. A cleaner road feels better than a filthy one. It can also improve a sense of belonging, enhance a sense of safety, and lead to improved economic development of a community. 

Take Pride Winnipeg understands that systemic challenges can lead to the degradation of a community. When less money is invested in cleaning streets, local businesses, parks, or maintaining buildings, people may feel less motivated to take an active role in the community and cleaning up litter. That’s not even taking into account poverty, addiction, and homelessness and how, as people find themselves lost, the community falls with them. Although Take Ride Winnipeg doesn’t have the answers to the challenges of addiction or homelessness, Ethans believes that through cooperation and a desire to make a difference in the world by cleaning up litter, beautification efforts, and community engagement, it can have a compounding impact, on the city. More vibrant areas attract more interest from investors and businesses and more money into housing, jobs, and social services. 

“We want to do whatever we can to make people feel better about where they live,” says Ethans. For Ethans, a small step is taking time to clean up after oneself and make changes in one’s life that lead to less waste, but also to think about improving communities in a united effort. “As I say when I go to schools, if every person in Manitoba took three seconds to walk outside and pick up one piece of litter, that’s a million pieces of litter off the ground every day.”

Roughly 15 to 20 thousand volunteers hit Winnipeg’s streets to clean each spring. Families, businesses, communities, faith groups, and schools take on an entire winter’s worth of trash, and more help is always needed to educate, clean up, and inspire. 

Across Canada, approximately 3 million tonnes of plastic waste are thrown out yearly, and that’s just plastics. It can feel daunting, but Ethans, members of the Take Pride Winnipeg team, and dedicated individuals hope that together, we can make a difference.

– Ryan Funk, U Multicultural

Community Focus: Manitoba Filipino Seniors Group Promoting well-being among both the young and elderly members of the community while preserving Filipino culture is a key aspect of the Filipino Seniors Group of Winnipeg (FSGW). FSGW hosted the first Seniors Sports Fest last March, featuring popular games, including pool, darts, chess and Filipino Sungka. The efforts promoted socialization,Continue Reading

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