Over the past two years, Pauline has become a regular visitor to the Indigenous Family Centre (IFC) in Winnipeg’s North End.
The Selkirk Avenue non-profit centre provides opportunities for people to learn about Indigenous culture, develop positive life skills and experience healing in a safe and nurturing environment.
Pauline began attending IFC two years ago with the support of Epic Everyday. She initially took part in a number of drop-in beading and moccasin-making workshops and quickly became connected to other community members and the staff at IFC. Since then, she has taken part in a number of other workshops, participates in activities like bingo and now volunteers in the centre’s community kitchen.
As much as she enjoys taking part in all of those activities, it’s the sense of belonging the centre provides that keeps Pauline coming back week after week.
“She has found purpose and meaning there,” says Amy Cranford, a Senior Manager with Epic Opportunities. “The people there love to work with her and they see what an amazing woman she is.”
Using her already considerable crafting skills, she has made everything from card holders and moccasins to mittens and blankets, most of which have ended up as gifts for her parents and other members of her family. Most importantly, Pauline has developed some pretty incredible connections at the IFC.
Pauline can often be found in the kitchen area helping Hospitality Coordinator Rhonda Starr mix ingredients for cinnamon buns or rolling out dough for bannock. She often asks Starr what she needs in the kitchen and regularly donates items such as eggs, flour, soup and onions as a way of contributing to the community and the IFC .
“It’s the people here. It’s why I enjoy coming here,” Pauline says during a recent Tuesday morning visit to the centre.
It’s a feeling that is mutual. As soon as Pauline enters the centre she is greeted by a chorus of hellos from staff and visitors and is quick to return the welcoming gesture.
“It’s been great to see her become part of our community here,” says IFC Arts Program Coordinator Janessa Giesbrecht. “People know her and really enjoy having her here.”
One of the most gratifying aspects of getting to know Pauline over the past few years, Giesbrecht says, is witnessing how much she has grown as a member. She has become far more independent and self-directed in her relationships with the staff and volunteers at the IFC.
“It’s become much more collaborative. Pauline is in charge of how to do things now,” Giesbrecht says.