This Profile of Effective Practice is one of fifteen stories examining how innovative, community-based initiatives are using comprehensive approaches to improve social and economic conditions on a local level.
Winnipeg, a city of approximately 700,000 on the Canadian Prairies, has seen a rapid growth in urban migration from rural and northern Aboriginal communities in the last few decades. By 1996, there were more than 52,000 Aboriginal people in Winnipeg, with 35% being under the age of 14.
The impact of centuries of colonization and disempowerment, including the living legacy of the residential school system and child welfare interventions that saw non-Aboriginal people deliver services to the Aboriginal community in a way that broke apart families, communities, and cultures, clearly has contributed to the challenges for the Aboriginal community as they strive for individual, family, and community health and well-being. Although many in the Aboriginal community achieve considerable success in becoming great leaders and creating a healthy life in Winnipeg, Aboriginal people in the city continue to be over-represented in the areas of poverty (approximately 50% of Aboriginal children and youth live in poverty) and behaviours associated with poverty including incarceration, youth death rates and suicides.