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Community Engagement Initiatives: Report Launch

Faculty of Arts


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Group photo at reception

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From left: Catherine Taylor, Lloyd Axworthy and Linda DeRiviere

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From left: Christopher Campbell, Catherine Taylor and Jarita Greyeyes

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From left: Christopher Campbell, Chantal Fiola and Sharanpal Ruprai

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From left: Lloyd Axworthy, Linda DeRiviere and Annette Trimbee


Photo credit: Naniece Ibrahim

Faculty, staff and students involved in the project, From Access to Engagement: Initiatives at the University of Winnipeg in Support of Educationally Marginalized Children and Youth, 1988-2017, gathered today at 12:30 in 2M70 for the launch of the project report.

President Annette Trimbee opened the formal part of the program by acknowledging that we are on Treaty One Territory and in the Homeland of the Métis Nation. In her remarks, she noted the longstanding roots of engagement that exist at the University of Winnipeg. Jarita Greyeyes, Community Learning and Engagement Director, applauded those in attendance, especially the researchers, for their willingness to stand up and get involved and for going above and beyond in their work.

Today, December 6, was acknowledged as Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women and there was a pause to remember the women murdered at École Polytechnique in Montreal 28 years ago, many of whom, it was noted, would now have been in their forties and mothers of daughters that would have been the age of our students.

Catherine Taylor, Associate Dean of Arts and lead researcher on the project, was introduced and she spoke about the program as follows.

As we reflected on the task of studying the University’s efforts to engage marginalized children and youth when the SSHRC grant was awarded in 2014, and with the prospect of UW’s 50th anniversary coming up in the final project year, we decided to expand our scope to consider the long view: not only the dramatic intensification of efforts to engage marginalized youth during the Axworthy years, but other initiatives going back 30 years, and still others occurring now under Dr. Trimbee’s leadership.

UW has long had the twin mandate of excellence and access, and over the years our understanding of what that requires of us as an institution has grown and changed. I think of the shifts in the last thirty years as constituting three phases:  Individual Access, Community Engagement, and Community Engagement “2.0.”

In the early individual access phase, we worked at providing access to the university as it was by building in additional supports to help educationally marginalized students thrive in the university as it was. The Writing Program started in 1988 and WEC ten years later. Both have evolved over time and are thriving today.

The Community engagement phase in the Axworthy era was far more transformative: Let the campus be changed by the communities it reaches out to. That decade saw an influx of exuberant children in our hallways, youth playing pick-up basketball in the front lawn, elders officiating at University events and advising the President.

And now we’re in Community Engagement 2.0. Under President Trimbee, there has been a consolidation of the transformative work of the Axworthy era. The Indigenous Course Requirement now involves dozens of courses (49 at last count), and community engagement has expanded to include outreach to the 2SLGBTQ community by activities such as Pride participation, where President Trimbee happily carries the U of W banner every year.

Through these projects, we set out to develop an in-depth understanding of how the initiatives have been experienced by the people involved in them, as a contribution to the university’s ongoing efforts to live up to our twin mandate of providing both access and excellence, and seeing them as integral to each other.

Our study is a contribution to discourse on where we’ve been and where we want to go. We focused on a representative selection of community-engagement initiatives, and there are a great many other important initiatives at the University of Winnipeg that have not been included here, such as the Aboriginal Students’ Centre and the Urban and Inner City Studies program which is about to move to Merchant Corner on Selkirk Avenue.

Finally, Dr. Taylor introduced participants and their studies which are as follows and she encouraged everyone to take in the poster displays and speak with the researchers about their work.  

  • Jen Clary-Lemon, from Rhetoric, who examined the Writing Program

  • Paul de Pasquale, from English, who studied the Winnipeg Education Centre

  • Lee Anne Block, from Education, who studied the Faculty of Education’s Service Learning program

  • Linda DeRiviere, Political Science, who evaluated many of the programs for children and youth implemented during Dr Axworthy’s presidency.

  • Nathan Hall and David Telles-Langdon, Kinesiology, who examined the Axworthy Health & RecPlex; Nathan also conducted a campus wide survey on perceptions of our Community Engagement Initiatives

  • Christopher Campbell (Education), Heather Milne (English), and Larissa Wodtke (CRYTC), who examined the Campus Climate for 2SLGBTQ* People.

  • Helen Lepp Friesen (Rhetoric), who studied the Indigenous Course Requirement

Posters and the full final report will be uploaded to https://www.uwinnipeg.ca/community-engagement/ in January.