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North End Centre Continues Supporting its Community Despite Need for New Facility

There’s been a bit of a road bump for one of Winnipeg’s North-End Community organizations as they look for a new facility. Luckily, there are opportunities to rent while they search, a testament to the unity found within the community.

Founded in 1999 by a group of women who came together for low-income communities between Main Street and the river, North Point Douglas Women’s Centre (NPDWC) has long since needed a new facility to better support the North End. In 2021, NPDWC participated in the Great Canadian Giving Challenge generating $30,000 towards a new facility, with plans to start a capital campaign to continue raising funds later in the year. However, unforeseen circumstances mean they’ll have to wait a little while longer, with the capital campaign sitting on the back burner while the centre figures things out.

“The building we were hoping to get caught on fire,” says Executive Director Tara Zajac, “So that put a bit of a kink in our plans. We’re trying to figure it out, but we will continue to figure it out because we have to get a new building. With programs starting up, we’re renting a space for the evening and some afternoon programming because our centre is really small.”

The current facility was purchased in 2002 with the help of community members and institutions, with limited services such as clothing and food donations. Today, the drop-in operates from 9 AM to 5 PM, focused on basic needs products such as food and hygiene and offering a laundry facility, a public access phone, and a public bathroom. Evening programming includes a Men’s Sharing circle, a Healing from Domestic and Family Violence circle, a Family Tree Parenting program, a Women’s
Warriors circle, and the Mama Bear Clan patrol. With their limited space, Zajac says it simply isn’t possible to continue operations as they are.

“Not only are we operating space to do our programming or any events, but we also have a storage facility we rent. The bills are adding up, and we do need a new permanent home… We are really lucky there is a space in our community we can rent. We have participants saying it doesn’t have the same feeling as the centre, and it is problematic having to haul things over. We’re doing what we can.”

With infection numbers and COVID restrictions, limiting space in an already small facility is another challenge. But the centre is determined to ensure the facility is available to all who need and want to come, with no rules around proof of vaccination. Additionally, it offers vaccination clinics and opportunities to talk with the centre staff and the traditional healer and knowledge keeper to answer questions and show support. Despite all challenges, Zajac is encouraged with how much they can still do for the community and says everyone who comes to the centre is like an extended family.

“We have programming that happens every night of the week except for Saturdays. We are a very small staff. At our height, we maybe have 12 to 15 staff members. So everything we’re able to do is amazing. We’ve been really lucky to rent space at the Filipino Senior Centre, which is just down the road for us. That has been great because of their capacity. During normal times they can house 160, and this way, we can offer programming without limitations.”

– Ryan Funk, U Multicultural

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of U Multicultural.

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