Social change through ink

October 16, 2016

One of the things that I have been indirectly trying to point out by  writing this blog is the fact that community newspaper and the small press can be just as interesting and well-written as the big media outlets of the world.

This is why West Central Streets succeeded for many years in inner-city Winnipeg. Many different people wrote stories about their lives and wrote them well. When there was a threat that Erika Wiebe was going to be removed from coordinating Streets , Gary Doer, who was premier at the time, stepped in and said, “No”.

Here is one story about the inner-city newspaper “that could:

Winnipeg Free Press

Wednesday, January 24, 1996?

Social Change through ink

by Martin Zeilig

For Walter Gunn, West Centreal Streets — Winnipeg’s newest community-based, non-profit newspaper — is a potential ally in his persistent efforts to help make Furby Street a safer place to live.

Among other stories, the volunteer-staffed tabloid featured a profile unn, plus a short article by him, in its initial issue last October.

“It’s nice to have something like that to let others in the neighbourhood know what is going on,” says Gunn, a retired carpenter, who, along with his wife, Lena, and some of their grandchildren, has lived on Furby Street for over eight years.

The newspaper’s article, headed Good Neighbours, describes how Gunn was on the phone to just about every city official there is, to get something done about that garbage that keeps being piled on the boulevard.

Moreover, the story notes Gunn started a neighborhood telephone campaign to encourage a local landlord to close a booze can on the street.

Gunn also got 683 people to sign a petition, which was presented to City of Winnipeg officials and the police chief, calling for the community police office to be open and well staffed at night.

The idea for West Central Streets, which reports on an area bounded by Notre Dame Avenue to the north, west to Arlington Street, south to Portage Avenue and east to Balmoral Street, cane from inner city community activists Tanya Lester, Tammy Sutherland and ErikasWiebe.

According to the editorial in that first issue: The purpose of the paper is to discuss issues that community people are interested in, to tell stories of people who live and work here and to share information about what’s going on in the neighborhood.

Lester, who wrote three articles for the October paper, notes that at least some area residents are impressed with the product.

“One woman called who was improving her literacy skills, and said she really le motherenjoyed it,” says Lester, 40, a single mother and writer, who lives in the area.

“It’s small enough that people can read it in one sitting. Since the last issue, people have come forward and said “I want to write for it.”

Funding for the first issue of West Central Streets, which is printed by the Brandon Sun, was made possible by at $1000 grant from PLURA, an Inter-Church Association to promote social justice in Canada. Lester and company recently received a $2,000 grant from the local community committee of Child and Family Services (CFS). That’s enough money to cover the cost of putting out the next two issues of their newspaper.

“We’re open to building advertising as well. But it’s a slow process,” adds Lester, who would like social service agencies to advertise in the paper.

“Our goal at this point is to get enough funding to put out enough papers for the rest of the year, so we concentrate on writing articles.”

Wiebe, a community worker with CFS, views the paper as a possible binding tool for the area.

“It just seems like one of the few positive things touching people in this neighborhood,” she says.

“Eventually, I would like to see the people in the area take over the paper”, adds Sutherland, a worker for the Volunteer Project at St. Matthews Maryland Church.


Tanya’s books are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, Friends I Never Knew, Dreams and Tricksters and Women Rights/Writes.

Tanya is also a psychic reader, reiki master and a fulltime housesitter. To find out more about her services go her web site at or her pages on Facebook. LinkedIn, Google and Twitter. You can email directly at or call her cell at 250-538-0086



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