This summer, Flatlanders continued with many of the regular rhythms of community life. We ate together, cooked together, played together, and watched hockey together. In a surprise turn of events, one cold September day we found a lizard living in our dorms. (We have no idea where it came from. We also had no idea how to care for it, so we gave it to animal rescue.)
All of these things —the daily routines and the surprises—take place against the backdrop of our life and work in our neighbourhood: the corner of Main and Sutherland in Winnipeg’s North End.
The most recent census data available on the City of Winnipeg website give a bit of a picture of our specific corner of the North End, Lord Selkirk Park:
- The census showed an unemployment rate of 18.9% here, compared to 5.9% for Winnipeg as a whole.
- The median household income in Lord Selkirk Park was $17,252, compared to $57,925 for Winnipeg as a whole.
- 67.6% of households in our neighbourhood had an income of less than $20,000/year, compared to 13.7% of Winnipeggers.
- 56.6% of our neighbours did not have a high school (or any other) diploma, compared to 19.8% of Winnipeggers.
- The most common family type in our neighbourhood is single mothers, who comprise 47.2% of Lord Selkirk Park families (compared to 15.3% of Winnipeg families).
- 90.2% of Lord Selkirk Park residents were renting their home (compared to 33.9% of Winnipeggers) and 51.4% had moved within the past year (compared to 14.3% of Winnipeggers).
On the corner of Main and Sutherland, homelessness, addiction, violence, and poverty are not issues that we hear about but realities that we see when we look or step outside and as we talk to our friends. As 60% of our neighbours have indigenous ancestry, we are faced daily with the impacts of colonization, and we wonder what reconciliation looks like when so much harm has been done and continues to be done.
In this fall’s newsletter, we offer you some of our reflections on life in our neighbourhood. It is not by accident that we wound up on this corner of the city. One of our foundational community values states: “We live where we do on purpose. We love this neighbourhood and want to see its good parts flourish and its troubles transformed.” A decade in this neighbourhood has not taught us all of the answers to the struggles around us, but it has taught us to sit with the questions, and to let the Holy Spirit slowly shape our hearts to see and to love our neighbours as their Creator loves them.
Tara Glowacki has been the Flatlanders Inn Administrator and Landlord since 2015. She has worked in the inner-city in various capacities since 2011, and is regularly struck by the massive inequalities that exist in Winnipeg. She loves hanging out with the folks at Flats and learning from their experiences living on this corner of the city, where there are no easy answers but there is plenty of beauty and hope.