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UWinnipeg comes together to support United Way

Thu. Dec. 8, 2022

Annual United Way basket raffle

The annual United Way Winnipeg basket raffle is a huge UW tradition! Departments and other university units put together baskets with care and creativity, each with a particular theme. The slogan for this year’s city-wide United Way campaign is “We are all Winnipeg,” and many of the baskets celebrated the city with uniquely Winnipeg crafts, writers, food, drinks, and gift certificates.


Volunteers are an important part of the annual United Way campaign. (From left: Meaghan Michaluk, Lynn Jones, Tessa Pearen)


In a fitting tribute to Winnipeg winters, the President's Office donated three baskets stacked in the shape of a snowman.

One striking “basket,” “Supporting Local,” donated by the President’s Office, was actually made up of three baskets stacked to form a snowman. It featured a Hiliary Druxman necklace, gift cards to local restaurants, two bottles of wine, and several local food products. “Winnipeg: Rally, Revive, and Thrive” was donated by Student Services and included The Dead of Midnight (by celebrated author Catherine Hunter), My Life (by Teemu Selänne), the game Winnipeg-Opoly, and a Winnipeg Jets shirt. The UWinnipeg Retirees’ Association donated a “Made in Manitoba” box, which included a gardening book, co-edited by the University’s own Danny Blair, a member of the University’s United Way planning committee. “Welcome to Canada,” donated by the English Language Program, was remarkable for its Manitoba Polar Bear in a Snow Storm t-shirt, map of Canada floor puzzle, and selection of local food and beverage products. The Psychology Department donated a popular basket featuring a certificate for a tattoo or piercing.

welcome to canada basket

"Welcome to Canada," donated by the English Language Program, included a Polar Bear in a Snow Storm t-shirt and map of Canada floor puzzle.

Faculty, staff, and students moving through the Atrium stopped to check out the attractively displayed baskets—21 in total. It was a fun way to spend some time during a difficult time of the year, when everyone’s getting tired and needing a break. The draw was held on Friday, December 2, 2022 and the names of the winners are posted on 2022 Basket Raffle Winners. While it seems like a cliché, everyone who entered truly wins as $4,399.41 was raised in support of United Way Winnipeg.

Interview with Dr. Tracy Whalen

Dr. Tracy WhalenTracy Whalen is Associate Dean of Arts and has been closely involved with the United Way for some years, having served as department Ambassador, member of the U of Winnipeg United Way planning committee, and (now) member of the United Way Cabinet, representing the University and Colleges Division. Midway through the University’s annual campaign, I thought it would be good time to meet with Whalen and find about more about the United Way and the University of Winnipeg’s support of it.

Can you tell us a bit about the United Way and how it supports community?

United Way Winnipeg provides long-term, reliable funding to support agencies in our city that every day support those facing critical needs in our city. These agencies offer, among other things, youth programming, shelter, and resources for those with mental health needs. In short, the United Way provides care for members of our most vulnerable communities, many of whom live in our immediate neighbourhood.

The United Way contributes more than $2M in funding to Indigenous-led agencies and even more in support to other agencies that may not be Indigenous-led, but work in partnership with Indigenous communities. Last year’s Winnipeg campaign raised over $21M to support so many during a particularly difficult year.

Does United Way provide support to our Spence Street community?

The United Way funds crucial resources right here in our Spence Street community. The University of Winnipeg’s Aurora Family Therapy Centre is an important resource, as are the Spence Street Neighbourhood Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Winnipeg, and Ma Mawi Chi Itata Centre, including Ma Mawi - Spence Community Care Site.

Can you tell why you’ve become so involved with the campaign?

I like supporting an agency where all donations go towards programming. This is the case with the United Way; the organization’s infrastructure-related costs are supported by government. They also provide long-term funding, which allows agencies to better plan their programming, staffing, and initiatives.

On a more personal level, when I was a single parent, my daughter went to Art City, a United Way-funded community art studio in West Broadway. I saw all the good that Art City did in the neighbourhood. They celebrated young people, providing them with mentorship and opportunities to contribute to the community with murals and small public art installations.

The University of Winnipeg has a long history with the United Way. Can you speak a bit to that?

The University of Winnipeg has provided leadership and support for the Winnipeg United Way for years. Neil Besner, former U of Winnipeg administrator and professor, chaired the city-wide campaign in 2016, as did Barb Gamey, Chancellor of the University of Winnipeg and Owner and Co-Founder of  of Payworks, in 2018.

Are there other ways people can get involved?

People can get involved by donating any amount of money during the campaign. No amount is too little.  Faculty and staff can serve as Ambassadors for their departments, attend the annual University of Winnipeg launch, participate in city-wide initiatives like Walk This Way, and support the basket raffle. If you are already a donor and feel like you can increase your pledge, please consider doing so. We have many United Way Leaders amongst administration, faculty, and staff.

I’d like to acknowledge all those who have supported and continue to support our University of Winnipeg campaign. Our faculty and staff are enormously generous. I’d like to give a special shout out to our retirees, who are a critical part of the campaign. They make a huge difference.

I’d also like to acknowledge the University of Winnipeg staff who volunteer their time to make the UWinnipeg campaign possible, including Meaghan Michaluk, this year’s Workplace Campaign Chair, and Tessa Pearen, organizer of this year’s basket raffle. Jenna Russell plays a central role organizing the launch and Tari Muvingi trains our Ambassadors, both doing great work.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Especially at this time of year, we think of all those in need. Needs are even greater this year due to the lasting effects of the pandemic and increased food insecurity due to inflation. There are many who feel particularly burdened and anxious. The United Way is providing tangible assistance to these people, and we can help extend that support by donating to the campaign.

So far the University of Winnipeg’s 2022 campaign has raised more than $75K. We are hoping to exceed our goal of $100K and are looking to push past this goal in this last stretch of the campaign. This year’s campaign is open until the end of December.

Lisa Michelle McLean
Office Manager and Program Officer
Faculty of Arts: Deans' Office