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Youth United@Winnipeg – education, community, reconciliation

by ahnationtalk on April 26, 201866 Views

Innovative program aimed at building bridges – read the Winnipeg Free Press story here.

WINNIPEG, MB – Beginning next week, twenty University of Winnipeg students will come together in Winnipeg’s North End to spend the summer learning and working in community organizations, in an innovative program called YouthUnited@Winnipeg. In partnership with the City of Winnipeg, initiated by Winnipeg Councillor Brian Mayes and designed at UWinnipeg, the experiential learning program is based on the principles in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) Calls to Action.

The students come from a diversity of backgrounds, both suburban and inner-city, with the intent of fostering new relationships and the exchange of ideas and perspectives. Students spend one day a week in the classroom, and four days a week working in community-based organizations. The curriculum exposes them to a variety of community settings and cultural experiences.

For student Riley Black (Political Science), YouthUnited is a practical way to engage in community-building and reconciliation. “I’m hoping to gain a greater understanding of life in the inner-city and North End. I think these neighbourhoods are often misrepresented and misunderstood, and I want to be able to challenge these misrepresentations and misunderstandings. I also want to create relationships with a variety of people, so I can better understand and appreciate them and their experiences.”

“This is a wonderful partnership between the City and the University of Winnipeg. We are bringing together students from the different parts of the city to work at service to the community and to learn about reconciliation from one another,” said Mayes. “I am proud to be part of this initiative.”

An innovative aspect of the program is the “roving-classroom” model. In addition to studying at our new home at Merchants Corner, students will learn in community spaces throughout the inner city taught by experienced community practitioners. Participating organizations this year include Ka Ni Kanichihk, Welcome Place, John Howard Society, Peaceful Village, Graffiti Gallery to name a few. Indigenous Elder’s and other Indigenous cultural leaders will provide guidance as students explore what it means to participate in the process of reconciliation through community work.

The program, now in its second year, was designed and is facilitated by Dr. Shauna MacKinnon, Associate Professor and Chair, Urban and Inner-City Studies, UWinnipeg.

“We are honoured and privileged to have support from The City of Winnipeg to allow us to offer this amazing opportunity to students and the community again this year,” said Dr. MacKinnon. “We learned some valuable lessons in our first year and we’ve been busy working to make the program even stronger in its second year. We have a great group of students eager to learn and we are keen to get started.”

YouthUnited@Winnipeg runs for 15 weeks beginning on May 3rd. Students earn six university credits.

Student participant Rebecca Atet Deng (Human Rights and Conflict Resolution).

“I arrived in Canada 12 years ago under refugee status and then become a Canadian citizen. I would like to share some of the challenges immigrants face when they arrive. Social distress is one of the main factors within immigrant communities, especially in the families, many of whom were living in refugee camps. Some children arrive in Canada and never attended school in their homeland or in the refugee camps due to the war. Also, my journey and life experience as a former war survivor will make it easier for me to relate to the issues affected by youth and women of various background, especially First Nations and minorities.”

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*NOTE: Dr. Shauna MacKinnon (204-988-7197); and Councillor Brian Mayes (204-986-5088) are available for media interviews.


Diane Poulin, Senior Communications Specialist, The University of Winnipeg

P: 204.988.7135, E:


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