Grace Gyolai is the new Intake and Screening Coordinator at the West End location. She joined the 1JustCity team during the summer of 2020 after interning and volunteering at the West End Drop-in. She fell in love with mission and spirit of 1JustCity on her first day, and quickly learned how important community focused organizations are—especially in current times. Grace is a student at the University of Manitoba studying statistics and hopes to combine her love of science and social justice to answer the hard questions our society faces. As the new Screening Coordinator Grace will work hard to ensure community members feel safe but also welcome at the weekend drop-in. Grace feels very grateful to be involved at 1JustCity; it is perfect for her as an empathetic listener. Her favorite part of every day is engaging with community members and listening to any stories they want to tell.
Jaden is a part of the lovely team at the West End Drop-in. Jaden first began his time working temporarily as a part of the summer program at the Drop-in, where he loved it so much; he stayed. Currently Jaden is a student at the University of Manitoba where his path is still undecided, in the meantime Jaden likes to spend his time learning and exploring the many opportunities available to him. You can most often find Jaden greeting guests at the door of the Drop-in, where he spends most of his time addressing the needs of those who come in. Jaden has a natural love for listening and enjoys spending as much time as possible connecting with community members and sharing his love for music and guitar.
Josh Ward is the Community Facilitator at 1JustCity's West End Drop-in. He started with us as a practicum student, and we loved him so much we asked him to stay on with the team! Now Josh has a wide range of responsibilities in overseeing everything at the site. He spends his days working with volunteers and community members coming through the site, applying for grants, and dreaming up new program ideas. Josh’s favourite part of his job is building relationships and creating a family at the Drop-in that can go through the good and bad times together. He is motivated most by the ‘magic’ that happens at the space when people come together and work together to make a real difference in the lives of those who walk through the doors. Josh’s kindness beams through the work he does at the Drop-in, which is driven by his desire to make a difference and respond to poverty in our city.
Lara Rae comes to 1Just City after years in the arts. She is an award winning writer and comic who co-founded the Winnipeg Comedy Festival in 2000. After retiring from the comedy fest she founded a food group Pantry to provide hot meals to shelter insecure folks in West Broadway which brought her to the attention of 1JustCity. After working at Just A Warm Sleep during the lockdown she joined the team at WBCM where she manages the lunch program. She brings her love of people, her sense of humor and her love of cooking to her role. Lara is also a Community Nutrition Educator with WRHA volunteer services and this feeds her passion to create a holistic approach to physical and mental health within the vulnerable sector of our community. Lara is a proud trans woman who advocates on behalf of her community with TransManitoba and was the first trans person to ever guest host CBC Radio's flagship news magazine The Current.
Laura Everett is the Community Capacity Builder at the West End Drop-in. She was encouraged by her friend to apply for the position and we are lucky that she did because she is amazing and so fun to work with! Before joining us she ran a free clothing program at a larger shelter in the city, so she brings a lot of experience and creativity to her role with us. Laura is motivated by social justice which she has been studying for a long time, and which makes her such a visionary for the work we do at 1JustCity. She does a variety of jobs during the day which include administrative work, event planning, and pastoral care. She is an exceptional problem solver which she proves in her work with community members who are accessing the site. Her favourite part of her job is seeing the special moments when people start believing in themselves.
Laura is one of our Housing Coordinators at Just a Warm Sleep. She cannot stay away from the team and returns to 1JustCity after working with the Housing First Program through West Central Women's Resource Centre and returning to university. Laura has worn multiple hats with 1JustCity, working with Just a Warm Sleep and revitalizing the weekly Older Adult gathering at West Broadway Community Ministry. Laura's love of Winnipeg and it's inner city began while a part of the live-in leadership of a communal transitional housing organization in the North End. She is continually taught through the teachings and lives of our neighbours and is grateful to be a part of Just a Warm Sleep this season. Laura looks forward to reuniting with old faces, getting to know new guests and providing a safe barrier free space away from the cold.
Meet our Indigenous Cultural Safety Leader Lori Abraham. Lori is the newest staff member to join the 1JustCity team. Lori brings Indigenous Cultural Programming to the West End Drop-in. She has spent years learning from ceremony and elders from her home community of Sagkeeng. She is knowledgeable in teachings surrounding the Ojibway Language, medicines and Indigenous community values. Some of the ways in which she has brought those teachings to the site is by teaching how to smudge with medicines, conducting sharing circles, teaching beading and sewing and an interactive language bingo. Lori is devoted to providing access to language and cultural teachings through a harm reduction approach; this to her means that access to language and ceremony should have no barriers or restrictions. Lori is accepting and compassionate when helping those who seek to reconnect to their indigenous cultural identity, her teachings offer healing, re-connection and education for all who want to learn.
Lynda has the distinction of being the OLDEST member of the 1JustCity team. A diaconal minister in the United Church of Canada, Lynda has been fighting for social justice through her work in the church for over 30 years and she’s not tired yet. She has been at the West Broadway site for the past 9 years and during that time received the West Broadway Pillar of the Community Award and the UNPAC Activist Award - Not Afraid to Get My Hands Dirty!
“I would have to say that working at West Broadway has been at the same time the most crazy-making and the most meaningful work I’ve ever done. It is here where I have learned to love in ways that I hadn’t even imagined before. And loving some people is not easy. But it is very worthwhile.”
Lynda spends her days connecting with guests, volunteers, supporters and staff. She loves to give tours of the space to groups who want to learn about poverty and justice issues.
She also meets with people in the wider community to encourage them to think about what they can do to bring about systemic change.
Tessa Blaikie Whitecloud is a fearless advocate for social justice and community wellness in Manitoba. Her approach in her professional and volunteer work is: "What's the best I can bring to make my community better and reach the goals of whom I’m working with?" That’s why it’s so awesome that she’s our Executive Director! She makes our city better by building bridges with all communities and bringing people together to solve large and local challenges. From making it possible for people to have a warm place to sleep to creating understanding about colonization through custom workshops for businesses and NGOs with her husband Hanwakan, or in her former work teaching at the University of Winnipeg, she displays her compassion for others and the possibilities for healthy places and people in our province and city. Tessa loves sharing stories that opens people's hearts to the idea that each person needs some happiness in their days, be it fresh socks, a hug or a warm place to sleep.
Sarah Chan is one of our Housing Coordinators at Just a Warm Sleep. She began with us during the lockdown in May to provide some extra support and has joined us for another season. Sarah is a graduate from the International Development Program at the University of Winnipeg, where she discovered her passion for community development. She returned to school in 2020 to study social work and expand her ability to give back and help empower individuals and communities. Sarah has also worked and volunteered for a variety of organizations in the community, bringing a wealth of experience to the organization. As one of the first faces guests see when walking into Just a Warm Sleep, Sarah makes sure everyone is welcomed by a warm greeting and a friendly smile. Her favourite part of the job is chatting with guests and learning their stories.