Merchants Corner is an exceptionally exciting project now under construction on Selkirk Avenue in Winnipeg’s North End. The University of Winnipeg’s Department of Urban and Inner-City Studies and CEDA-Pathways to Education, the North End after-school high school support program, will share classroom space and work together in an arrangement that will be unique in Canada. R.B. Russell culinary arts students will run the café and kitchen as a school-based practicum, significantly improving their employment prospects. Thirty units of student housing that are part of Merchants Corner will respond to the housing needs of students and their families. And a wide range of community-driven educational and cultural activities will be housed in the complex. Merchants Corner will be a vibrant hub of positive community activity that is educational and cultural in character and that is consistent with the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report. This is a transformative project in Winnipeg’s low-income and largely Indigenous North End.
In recent decades the Merchants Hotel on Selkirk Avenue had been a magnet for serious problems — street gang activity, illegal drugs, and violence of various kinds. It was a blight on the community, and a roadblock to positive change.
In 2012, as the result of the efforts of North End community organizations, the Hotel was closed. Today, redevelopment is underway thanks to a sizeable contribution from the Provincial Government in 2014, as well as private funding from various individuals, organizations, and groups. This project would not have been possible if it were not for these generous commitments from all of our supporters!
Merchants Corner rendering
Merchants Corner will include 30 units of student housing, a community space and coffee shop, and three classrooms that will be fully shared by The University of Winnipeg’s Department of Urban and Inner-City Studies during the day, and CEDA Pathways to Education, the North End after-school high school support program, in the evening. This sharing of space by a high school program and a university in a low-income, largely Indigenous neighbourhood will be unique in Canada. Nowhere else is this being done, and it will be transformative in so many ways. However, there remains a need to fundraise to make the programming aspect of this venture feasible.
A good deal of space in Merchants Corner will be available for use by residents of the surrounding North End community. This community space will be used to make Merchants Corner an educational and cultural hub in Winnipeg’s North End. Community-driven programming that is consistent with the spirit of reconciliation and inter-generational learning will make the complex a centre of positive change and community activity. Along with providing classroom space for UWinnipeg and CEDA, the facility will host youth literacy programming, Oji-Cree language classes for preschoolers and their families, as well as various other activities that engage local community members in a positive learning environment that instills self-confidence and pride in one’s self and one’s heritage.
The new Merchants Corner will help bridge the education gap that currently exists, driving up the now very low North End high school graduation rates and leading to an increase in post-secondary enrollment within the area. However, the impact of this new space will also reach beyond the classroom with groups like “Meet Me at The Bell Tower – Stop the Violence” making this an indoor home for their Friday evening meetings. It will be a safe place for cultural gatherings and the sharing of ideas, experiences, and knowledge.
Community chalkboard outside the Merchants Corner (©UWinnipeg)
The possibilities are endless and the impact on the people and their families tremendous. Of course, for this project to truly benefit the local community, its members must be involved and consulted in every step of the process. Local input is crucial to our success. The development of the Merchants Corner initiative has been and will remain a team effort from the design of the building to the creation and implementation of the programming. There is only one way to understand the needs of the people, and that is through discussion with the people.
Merchants Corner will become a host and a catalyst for a positive shift in Winnipeg’s North End. If you share our vision of building stronger and healthier communities, please consider supporting this important initiative.
We hope to raise $20,000 by December 31, 2017, and these funds will go towards community-driven cultural and educational programming that is consistent with the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report. All gifts made are tax deductible.
Thank you for making a difference!
If you don’t want to make a gift online, you can also send a cheque to:
The University of Winnipeg Foundation
901 - 491 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 2E4 Canada
*Note: Please make sure to mark your cheque for "Merchants Corner" and your gift will be counted towards this initiative!
Call toll-free: 1-866-394-6050
Please visit the links below for more information on Merchants Corner:
- Official Merchants Corner website – www.themerch.ca
- Transforming a notorious Winnipeg neighbourhood into a hub for education – The Globe and Mail
- Merchants Corner reviving a neighbourhood – Winnipeg Free Press
- Official North End Community Renewal Corp. website – www.necrc.org