We just completed the Winnipeg Urban Plunge last week. We stayed at Winnipeg Centre Vineyard, which is a church located in an old elevator factory in Winnipeg’s North End. The building has a lot of character and, if you walk around it, you will notice vast and colourful murals covering the outer walls. The murals are representative of the community; vibrant, yet broken.
Our first day of the Urban Plunge was a walking tour of the West and North Ends of the city. We had the opportunity to visit different organizations to learn about what they do to help out their community, along with learning about poverty, gangs, and Indigenous issues. We were divided into small groups so that we could easily interact with our hosts and ask as many questions as we needed to fuel our curiosity. Those of us who are from Winnipeg were a little nervous to venture into these parts of the city, but once we got there and learned more about the communities, we realized that there’s also a lot of beauty and goodness in these areas.
When we had completed the day’s activities, we were each given $2 to buy dinner. We could either pool the money we had in our groups of four and get food to share, or we could fend for ourselves. It was an eye-opening experience because it reminded us that some people only have that much to spend on supper, and it’s pretty difficult to find a well-balanced meal for that amount. My group ended up eating instant ramen, 99 cent pizza slices, and Timbits. It made us realize how fortunate we are to be in the position that we’re in right now, never needing to worry about when our next meal is coming or if it will be enough to keep us full.
The next two days of the Urban Plunge were spent volunteering at various churches, food banks, shelters, and other organizations. We got to interact with both the people running the places and the people who are using the services. We met pastors, artists, and people who were just looking to sit down with a cup of coffee and have a good conversation. Some of us were intimidated at first because of the area we were in and the stories we had heard, but our hosts were all very hospitable and patient in explaining how everything worked, which helped put us more at ease.
This week was a good reminder that there is more to people and communities than what is on the surface. You may see the North End for its drug problems and gang violence, but we were shown that there is so much more to it than that. It’s a community; it has its issues, but it is also so full of life. As for the people, one of our hosts gently reminded us that each person we met is a human like anyone else. It is so easy to judge what we see in front of us, but it is also so easy to change that judgement if you actually take a minute to get to know a person or place.
We’re now in Saskatchewan, we’ll tell you about what we’re doing in SK next week!
Thanks for reading,