On Thursday December 9, 2010 a newsworthy event occurred in Winnipeg’s North End. The 7th Annual “Lighting Up The Avenue” occurred on this night and brought nearly 300 North Enders into the street for eating, singing, gifts and of course, lots of lights. Several local media outlets were in attendance to cover the event. The event was organized by Aboriginal Visioning for the North End and the North End Community Helper’s Network, and supported by Ndinawemaaganag Endaawaad, The University of Manitoba, The Indian Family Centre and North End Community Renewal Corporation.
The event has been taking place for the past 7 years and brings out more community members each year. Occurring between the Indian Family Centre (470 Selkirk Ave) and Ndinawe Youth Resource Centre (472 Selkirk Ave), community came together and celebrated the season. Morning Star and Little Butterflies Drum Groups further brightened the festivities by sharing their drum and voices with the community. At approximately 6:00pm, 2 large Christmas trees were lit up by the community, led by Michael Champagne and Shaneen Robinson. After wards, all were able to sit together to share a feast served by the Santa hats (or volunteers).
Driven by Youth
This event was highly volunteer driven, bringing out volunteers of every shape and size, many of the usual suspects and some new helpers as well. Community youth assisted more than in any other year, sporting Santa hats and running errands inside and outside both buildings on the chilly December evening. They truly supported each of the activities acting as Elder helpers, food servers, environment crew and media relations. As in years past, there was plenty of food to eat and many free door prizes to be given away. The children at the event got a surprise when Santa came by to deliver goodie bags full of surprises (and candies and some mittens). A new addition this year, students from the University of Manitoba were on hand to provide folks with traditional aboriginal games. Thank you to Shaneen Robinson for emceeing the event for a second year in a row.
Many of the youth commented via various social media sites after the event. They included such statements as "so proud of North End Youth" and "The North End is our Family." Any time young people and community can come together, celebrate and walk away with a sense of pride and especially a sense of community pride should be applauded. Congratulations to the young people that worked tirelessly in the days leading up to the event providing many organizations and businesses up and down Selkirk Avenue with lights to put in their storefront windows. These young people were even involved in the set up and tear down of the event. Congratulations to the staff, organizations and community members for such a successful celebration of what the North End is truly about and why us young people represent!
Although most media outlets chose to cover the story in a positive light, some news sources chose to correlate the event to the violence that occurred earlier this year in Winnipeg’s North End. "Lighting Up The Avenue" is truly an event that achieves the purpose of bringing community together to share, laugh and celebrate and has nothing to do with violence.