Peg Gratitude: Day 19 – Winnipeg Public Library

December 31st, 2019 by Emma Durand-Wood

I’ve always been a library fan. I was a massive bookworm as a kid — one of my fondest childhood summer memories is getting stacks of books from the Lac du Bonnet library while visiting my grandparents at their cottage. As a teen in a just-before-the-internet world, the Lethbridge Public Library was my gateway to all the worldly books and authors I could possibly want.

When, after completely messing up stints at both the local university and college, I stumbled into the Library and Information Technology program at SAIT, I felt like I’d finally found “my people”.

All this to say, I love the library — and Winnipeg has a good one! My local branch, Henderson, is one of the busiest in the city and I love that it’s easy to get to and has decent hours. Whether it’s browsing, putting books on hold for pickup at my convenience, using the online databases for research, downloading eBooks or attending programs, I appreciate all the awesome services and programs happening at the library.

At the budget delegation meetings last month, many people came out to protest cuts and closures to library services. One person’s remarks stuck with me. He said something like, “The Westwood branch is not dead wood. It’s a branch of a living tree, and a tree that connects our community to a greater forest.”

It’s a tough time right now, as we await the fate of the Westwood and Fort Garry and West Kildonan branches of the WPL, and to see whether the discriminatory security measures at Millennium will be replaced by inclusive supports.

The proposed cuts remind to be grateful for the access that I am privileged to have. While we’ve still got a library, I want to say thanks to WPL for all it offers to me and my family.

Peg Gratitude: Day 18 – Schools

December 31st, 2019 by Emma Durand-Wood

I am so grateful to live in a city where parents don’t have camp out overnight to get a spot in French immersion, or take part in a lottery to get a spot in their catchment school. Coming from BC where this seemed to be the norm, I never take it for granted that our kids are able to go to a Francophone school with terrific teachers and staff, with no hoops to jump through!

I know several people who work in the education system, and from what I understand, it is not an easy place to work, with ever-present budget constraints, large classes and inadequate resources to meet student needs. In this stressful and challenging environment, the hard work and dedication of the personnel never ceases to amaze me. Teachers and elementary school staff are the unsung heroes of society and I’m extremely grateful to the staff at École Taché!

Because it is not our neighbourhood school and a little far for everyday biking (in great part due to a lack of infrastructure, not necessarily distance), we have (free!) school bus service and have always had terrific bus drivers who do unexpected, thoughtful things like give the students Christmas gifts or make donations in their name. I’m very grateful for this, as well.

And although my kids don’t go to the neighbourhood school, Glenelm School, I am also grateful to have this institution in our neighbourhood. It’s a special little community-minded school that is beloved by its students’ families. From welcoming a fledgling pickleball league, to participating in our GeNA tree planting ceremony, to hosting an epic community BBQ every June, this school is a huge asset to our corner of the world. I am lucky to consider myself part of the extended Glenelm School family!

Peg Gratitude: Day 17 – My Midwives & Doulas

December 31st, 2019 by Emma Durand-Wood

I’ve said it a million times: getting a midwife was like winning the lottery. I had the pleasure of having care from with two doulas from Birth Roots and two teams of midwives at the Winnipeg Birth Centre; all these birth professionals were such a special part of my life during pregnancy/postpartum. It’s hard to put into words how privileged I felt to work with them; it’s a special kind of intimate relationship we don’t experience often in our lives.

Although the province needs many more midwives to meet demand, we are incredibly fortunate to have the skilled, compassionate and midwives that we do have. I will always be grateful that I got to experience their care first-hand.

Peg Gratitude: Day 16 – The River

December 31st, 2019 by Emma Durand-Wood

Welp, thanks for tolerating my inadvertent hiatus from my “things I’m grateful for in Winnipeg” series. Turns out that planning to write a post every day in the busiest month of the year was a bit ambitious, but it’s my blog so I’m going to bend the rules for myself – I’ll complete my 31 gratitude posts as I’m able.

It’s New Year’s Eve and I have a cold and am happily spending a quiet evening with my computer and then hopefully finishing s3 of The Crown and then heading to bed. I’ve never been a NYE party kind of person and having small kids makes me even less enthused. Still, it’s the end of a decade and folks are being all thoughtful and nostalgic on Twitter and it’s put me in the mood for reflecting.

Shortly after I moved to Winnipeg I got a copy of In Search of April Raintree. I read it that first summer, on the bus, biting back tears. Apart from a few especially graphic scenes, I can’t remember that many of the story’s specifics, but I do recall that bridges and the Red River feature prominently. Every time I cross the Redwood on foot or bike, I look down and think about the book’s heart-wrenching tale and how it’s close to so many Indigenous people’s lives, and about Tina Fontaine and about the Drag the Red crews and the red ribbons.

I forget the river is there until I am crossing it. And when I’m there above it, suspended at a distance, it feels overwhelming, all-consuming. Standing looking out at the vast, endless brown waters I feel small and vulnerable; at the mercy of its might. In other parts of the city people may think of the river and think of an awesome skating trail. In my part of the city I think of the river as a stark and important reminder.

I struggle to know how to say this in a way that is respectful and sensitive. It sounds awful to say that I’m grateful for the river because it reminds me of a horrific aspect of Canadian society: missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. But in a way I am grateful because it reminds me that we must do better, we must work towards reconciliation. We must keep trying, try harder, do more to make amends for our actions. I’m grateful for the river as a constant, solemn reminder.

Peg Gratitude: Day 15 – Winnipeg Transit

December 17th, 2019 by Emma Durand-Wood

I use transit a few times a week and it’s a breeze because I live close to a very well-serviced route – I’m grateful for that.

Being a transit operator can’t be an easy job (that’s probably an understatement), but in my experience, operators are unfailingly polite, often cheerful, and always professional – and I’m grateful for that!

I often look forward to taking the bus because it gives me some “me time” to listen to a podcast, catch up on texts or email, or read the news or Twitter and not feel guilty because I really should be doing something else. I’m grateful for those small moments of solitude. And I’m also grateful for the chance to spend time around people from all different walks of life – I think taking public transit has helped me be a more empathetic and aware citizen.

It’s been a rough year for Transit, but also a tentatively exciting one, with the announcement of a proposed new Transit Master Plan. I know that there are lots of folks working VERY hard behind the scenes to make transit as good as it possibly can be – and I’m grateful for that too.

Three cheers for Transit!

Peg Gratitude: Day 14 – The Exchange District

December 17th, 2019 by Emma Durand-Wood

Who doesn’t love the Exchange? I sure do. It’s gorgeous, easy to get to and to navigate, has tons of cool places to shop and eats, is always putting on neat events, and did I mention it’s gorgeous? A while back I tweeted this photo of Albert and said I thought it was the prettiest street in the city – and promptly got nearly a hundred likes. What a beaut!

A few “only in the Exchange” things I’m grateful for:

Seeing movies at Towne 8 – this theatre feels nothing like a living room and that’s exactly what I love about it. It reminds me of what it felt like going to the movies as a kid. Never crowded, cheap tickets, good popcorn – heck yes.

Having coffee anywhere – a good portion of my young adult life was spent in coffeehouses, and when I’m sitting at Parlour or Forth or Miss Browns with a cup of delicious coffee, preferably looking out a window, it sounds cheesy but I just feel extremely like myself, in a good and comforting way.

Shoe shopping at Canadian Footwear – ok, so there are other locations around the city, but I really like this one because a) clearance centre! and b) easy-peasy for me to get to and c) top-notch service & really good quality footwear for my whole fam jam. I don’t think there are many free-standing shoe stores anymore, and that’s exactly what is special about this one.

I suppose I love the Exchange because it feels nostalgic and old school yet fresh and exciting – all at once. I’m so grateful to live close to such a great neighbourhood!

Peg Gratitude: Day 13 – Local Journalism

December 17th, 2019 by Emma Durand-Wood

This one will be short and sweet. I’m so grateful for the outstanding local journalism we have here in Winnipeg, thanks to CBC, the Free Press, and other local sources!

One of the best purchases I made this year was a digital subscription to the Winnipeg Free Press. I’ve wrestled over the years with paper subscriptions – I love getting a physical paper, but I just can’t keep up with the volume, and I feel gross about how a lot of the sections are just going to go straight into the recycling bin (sports, autos, etc.). The digital subscription is perfect because I can get all the news I want, including the Canstar community papers, and none of the waste.

Speaking of Canstar, I love our local paper, The Herald. There’s always something interesting in it, and personally, I really appreciate how the paper has always been interested in what our neighbourhood association is doing – a lot of folks say they hear about our events through the Herald, so we know it has excellent reach!

I’m also very grateful for CBC online news and radio programs (nothing against TV news; I just rarely watch it!) as well as La Liberté for shining a spotlight on the Franco-manitoban community, and the Uniter, which can always be counted on for good hyper-local content too. And a shout-out to the independent local journalists doing important work, too.

Peg Gratitude: Day 12 – Elmwood Cemetery

December 17th, 2019 by Emma Durand-Wood

Oh boy!! Do I have some catching up to do! For Day 12 of my gratitude project, I’m thinking about beautiful Elmwood Cemetery right here in Glenelm.

I guess it might sound kind of odd to praise a cemetery, but Elmwood Cemetery is such a special place and is huge asset to my neighbourhood. It’s gorgeous and tranquil, well-maintained and full of huge old trees and many new little ones.

With lovely smooth, wide paths that are shady in the summer and well-cleared in the winter, it’s the perfect place to go for a brisk or leisurely walk, especially in a group or with strollers or kids on bikes. It’s a picturesque, zero-stress partial connection to the Disraeli AT bridge, meaning it gives folks on bikes a way to avoid a big chunk of Henderson. And for Louis Riel Day, the Cemetery has a wonderful event: free sleigh rides, cookies and hot chocolate!

My favourite Elmwood Cemetery things are bumping into neighbours out walking or commuting (which seems to happen often!), exchanging a smile with other people on bikes, stopping to admire the river and the great view across to Point Douglas, and of course all the beautiful and fascinating headstones. There’s always lots of wildlife, too – one particularly magical moment was when we saw a small red fox dashing across the cemetery!

I’m so grateful to have a peaceful place that is also very useful and functional so close by. Three cheers for historic Elmwood Cemetery!

Peg Gratitude: Day 11 – Children’s Hospital

December 11th, 2019 by Emma Durand-Wood

There are really no words to accurately describe the quality of care that we received when one of our children had surgery as a newborn at Children’s Hospital. There is nothing that can prepare you for seeing your tiny, helpless infant hooked up to an astonishing number of machines, wires and tubes.

Even though everything went exactly as planned, and the outcome was excellent, being in the hospital with a six-week-old is very scary. But because of the outstanding support and ability of the staff at Children’s, we came away from it with an unbelievably grateful, positive view of the whole experience.

The doctors, specialists, Child Life staff, and especially the nurses seemed to us to be superhuman. Remembering their tender expressions of empathy for us as parents and their complete devotion to our tiny child still brings tears to my eyes.

When it came time to thank them, I felt that nothing I could say or do would really ever convey our gratitude and appreciation. It still feels that way.

Winnipeggers are incredibly fortunate to have such an outstanding health facility in our city!

Peg Gratitude: Day 10 – Plain Bicycle Project

December 10th, 2019 by Emma Durand-Wood

I’ve said it here before, but getting my bike through the Plain Bicycle Project changed my life. Sure, it maybe could have been another bike, but when I heard about the project, I just fell in love with the beautiful upright bikes, and could really see myself riding one. I loved the idea of a bike that I’d never feel the need to wear a technical fabric on, because technical fabrics are totally not my jam.

My bike is super comfy, gets me where I want to go, is fun to ride with my family, starts conversations, leads me to encourage others to bike, and inspires me to see cycling as an everyday, normal part of life…and part of the solution to the challenges our city and planet face.

I’m grateful for the Plain Bicycle Project!