A group of youth in Winnipeg’s North End are doing what they can to make the community a cleaner and safer space.
Their new foot patrol group called Anishiative is giving back to the community in a variety of ways.
Shovelling walkways of Elders is just one of the ways these members of the youth group Anishiative are cleaning up Winnipeg’s North End.
Riley Nepinak, one of the creators of Anishiative, says he started the group in June of 2020 as a way of showing youth community pride.
“I think when they join us it gives them a sense of purpose, it makes them feel like they belong to you know something you know bigger than themselves. It gives them a chance to you know develop empathy and understanding for others,” Nepinak said.
On top of shovelling – the group also hands out backpacks on Sundays with essential items for anyone they come across that might need it.
The backpacks are done in collaboration with Winnipeg Aboriginal Sport Achievement Centre (WASAC) and are filled with sleeping bags, thermal pants and personal hygiene items.
One volunteer says his own son played a role in why he wanted to join Anishiative.
“I have a small son of my own actually and he was a big factor in why I do this. I like to think about why some of these elders and some of these single mothers have a hard time getting in and out, like I have a hard time getting in and out of my house so I thought why not come out here and shovel and help out as much as I can,” River Nepinak Fontaine told APTN News.
Nepinak Fontaine added that joining the group builds confidence for the youth.
“I find that when the youth get involved it shows them that when they grow up that they can help more people and not only just stay on the streets and do other things that they can. And it helps them get engaged in their community.”
When it’s not snowing, the group picks up garbage and sharps on the streets of Winnipeg, while also hauling around wagons filled with juice and snacks.
Riley says he hopes to expand the model into northern communities
“I want to help communities up north implement the same type of program. Give the youth up north the tools to help their community, to clean it up, to help the people without houses and you know give them the tools to help them become the great leaders that we all know they are.”
The group is currently seeking funds through gofundme for warming tents to be set up at Winnipeg’s Thunderbird House for unsheltered population. The money will go directly to maintaining the tents for things like fire wood, hot beverages, warm food and snacks.