Tuesday, October 11, 2011

An Interview With A Social Worker

I was asked for an interview by a social work student regarding my thoughts on the North End.
This is what I said:

I make conscious decisions on what I will and will not say in my blog, .... I generally do not comment on illegal activities taking place on my street or in my area.
My blog tells only part of the story of my street. In some ways it paints a more negative picture, because I do not talk about positive things that happen as much as I talk about the negative. And in other ways it paints a quieter and safer picture because I don’t talk about illegal or suspicious activities taking place.
I also, from time to time, make statements that are not politically correct, because I feel things need to be talked about. Nothing will ever get better if we cannot talk about it.

Are you involved with any organizations within your neighborhood?
I was involved with several organizations. I was on the Stakeholders committee for the new garbage master plan at City Hall. I was vice-chair of St Johns Residents Association. I was involved with the Neighbour to Neighbour Safety Strategy, and with the new North End United group. I have been to a Seven Oaks Sentinals meeting at Gord Mackintosh’s office, and also participated in the combined COPP walks done with Gord Mackintosh. I have also worked with Ross Eadie in my efforts to better the North End of Winnipeg.
Since September of this year, I am no longer involved with any organization as I have found the City of Winnipeg is in no way interested in making the North End a better place. The organizations seem to be in place to placate the masses, spend tax payers money, and turn community volunteers into unpaid social workers. And we seem to just keep feeding people. Events seem to always include giving food to whoever shows up. We have become another level of soup kitchens in the city.

What do you feel the biggest issue is for the North End community? 
You will consider this to be a racist comment, which is actually the biggest issue we have.
The biggest issue in the North End, in my opinion, is the promotion of victimization. As long as those who do not take care of their houses (rental or owned), those becoming intoxicated in the streets or spilling their parties into the community, those committing crimes, and those buying and selling drugs continue to buy in to the belief that they are victims, they will remain victims. And as long as those who run the social programs promote the label of victim and provide advantages to those who are calling themselves victims, the victims will remain. As soon as we start demanding that people take responsibility for themselves, and their actions, we will begin to remove the victim label, and things will start to turn around.
Right now, many people are crying victim, staying on social assistance, pulling themselves down, carrying on the alcoholic lifestyle of their parents, and contributing to criminal behaviour that is pulling the North End down, and nobody is calling them on it. They can ride the victim train the rest of their lives because anyone who questions it would be called racist. And the social services agencies give power to the victimization label, protecting the rights of those who are labeled, or label themselves as victims.
People need to be held accountable for their actions, and they need to learn to make correct decisions. They need to learn to live within Societies norms and they need to respect the laws of the land. People will never be accountable for their actions if they are given the option of being a victim.
We had an extremely intoxicated woman take a baby out of a house where she was partying. She took the baby to the front sidewalk and began smashing the babies head on the sidewalk. She would have killed the baby if not stopped by a passer by. When in court, her defense was that she was a victim. She had a bad childhood. She was recognized as a victim and given a lesser sentence. How is that really helping her, the child she attacked, or society in general?

I've read a bit about the houses falling in on themselves, and garbage that does not get collected.. what about issues of violence, or gangs?
I would have to say my street in the North End has more violent acts on it than my street in Fort Rouge when I lived there. I have seen blood trails in my lane and on my front street. I have heard people screaming in, what I can only imagine as pain. I have heard domestic disturbances all too frequently and seen intoxicated individuals driving away in vehicles. Neighbours have been assaulted. ........ items removed ...
........ items removed ...
. Last fall a youth was caught by police on my street. He had a duffle bag full of guns and ammunition. At the end of my street a 15 yr old boy was stabbed to death just a few weeks ago. He was known to the police and likely a gang member. He died the next street over. A few blocks from me a man was shot in the head and died. He apparently was killed in relation to the 15 yr old boys death. Another kid was shot in the spring. It happened at a gang house the next street over. A couple of weeks ago we had two crime scenes on the street. Two separate houses had police cars and ambulances, each taking care of a person with stab wounds. The issues were likely related. ..... items removed ....... 
So yes, I would have to say there is violence and gang activity on my street.

Do you feel that police/local government do enough to help out?
I absolutely do not feel the Police and / or the local government are doing enough. I don’t envy the Police their jobs. It can’t be easy to do the work they do. But they are not doing enough.
It is hard to say if the Police are blocked by policies and procedures from removing criminals from the streets, or if they have become too jaded to act on issues they come across. I am not privy to the inner workings of the Police department, so I cannot say how they work. But I do know I was not able to get an intoxicated individual arrested for driving while intoxicated, smashing into a fence with his vehicle while driving intoxicated, attempted break in and damaging property a few months back. I have been told of several instances where police do not charge shoplifters who are caught with over $500 in inventory, and are turned loose. I see police continually returning to the same houses over and over again, not arresting anyone. I see crimes being committed over and over with no results. ........ items removed ...
Regarding police issues, civic, provincial and federal policies and laws need to be adjusted to allow police to take care of issues and remove criminals from the streets.
Regarding the civic government, there needs to be some form of attention paid to the North End  to enforce by-laws on the books. There should be pro-active by-law enforcement to bring the area up to basic standards instead of relying on complaints only. Even when citizens report by-law infractions, issues are not looked at in a timely manor. And when illegal dumping of garbage is reported, it is ignored. The by-laws department does not investigate reports and does not prosecute illegal dumpers.
Regarding the condition of housing stock in the North End, I have been told it would cause undue hardship on home owners to expect them to bring their houses up to reasonable standards and would affect low income citizens negatively to enforce by-laws regarding the condition of their houses.


How do you feel about the "helping profession" in your neighborhood? (Social Workers, etc)
Stop empowering bad behaviour.

Do you feel safe in your neighborhood?
In all honesty, it is very unlikely that I would be harmed in my neighbourhood. I am not involved in criminal activity, I do not sell drugs or buy drugs, and I am not out on the street in the middle of the night. But is the North End as safe as Fort Rouge, no. The North End is a more dangerous area to be in.

What do you feel are strengths of your community? (in terms of parks, or organizations)
This is a difficult question to answer. We have no banks, and only few gas stations, which are all located on Salter St. Local grocery stores are too expensive to use on a regular basis. The North End is an older neighbourhood, which should mean that people are able to walk everywhere they need to in order to make their purchases. In the North End, I generally drive wherever I am going. People in my area tend to do their shopping at the drug store and dollar store, and do their banking at the money mart.
When I lived in Fort Rouge, I walked everywhere, and was able to do so without problem.
I do not feel comfortable going to the park closest to me, being St Johns Park. I find the park often has intoxicated individuals under the influence of many different addictions. It is a beautiful park, but I do not feel safe being there alone at any time of day.

I do apologize for the negative attitude I have developed. However, I feel it is important to look at the North End in comparison to other areas of the city, instead of trying to find positive things to say about the North End on it’s own. We seem to have a need to downplay the negatives and overemphasize the positives in the North End, to try and convince ourselves that it is not so bad. But in reality, there are serious issues in the North End that are not being dealt with. We simply mask them with words that say it is not so bad.

16 comments:

  1. The police get tired of arrest and arrest and repick up because the Justice system cannot carry its weight . The arrested individuals need to go to jail for some time to dry out and get a grade12 which should take 30 yrs for the majority to acheive . At least they will have quieted down when they get out . Under stand what you think, but you blame the police to much when the justice system is what is letting you down .

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  2. You hit the nail right on the head about the poverty industry and social work industry. Where would they be if they could not label people as "victims". This does not mean that I am unsympathic to the things that people have been through, but why keep perpetuating the pain generation after generation?

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  3. I really like your blog but is there any way to change the font/background? I find white font on a black background very hard to read.

    No worries if it is not an easy change.

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  4. Well said. The victim card is like carte blanche to be a dick. Many people had shitty upbringings (myself included) & became productive members of society. Time to take off the kid gloves & start doling out some tough love. Take responsibility for your actions & pay the price if you fuck it up.

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  5. I had lowlifes on my street, in Alberta. Ransoming stolen property, dope dealing, general late night mayhem. Finally I crafted a letter to my MLA. In ten days they were gone. I would have put in the newspaper if the situation continued much longer.

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  6. Interesting commentary, however you have made an error in your statement regarding the sentencing of the woman who was charged with assaulting the child - she did not use her background as a defence as she came from a supportive and loving family, in the case summary detailed in the Wpg free press her parents were both loving and supportive, they did not drink nor were they abusive towards her - she began drinking at the age of 14 - and became an violent alcoholic - therefore you cannot use this case as an example.

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  7. @ Anonymous 12:04:

    Her lawyer did try to pass her off as a victim. A victim of abuse and alcoholism. Her background was used. Read this link. http://www.winnipegsun.com/2011/09/06/all-out-of-chances.

    I agree with everything written in this post. I do not think the problem is the police, but rather the out-of-touch judges who keep letting dangerous out of jail early, or imposing ridiculously lenient sentences.

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  8. Good interview.

    I have to say though that I can see where the by-law dept is coming from in ignoring your complaints. I mean, really, complaining about how your neighbour's house looks or the fact that other people are dumping garbage in bins in the North End? I can see those as piddly issues and not worth looking into (unless someone was actually in danger). And they are right that it could cause undue financial hardship on the property owner(s) to fix their place up. I mean...c'mon, it's the North End. They're probably living there due to their income or lack thereof so you, as a citizen of the North End, should be more understanding of that.

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  9. Gee Holly, where do you live? I have some old chairs and a stained old mattress I would like to leave behind your house. I know that you would be compassionate enough to let me. After all, I live in the north end and am too poor or stupid to know better.

    Could you be more condescending?

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  10. My intention, obviously, was not to be condescending so please be so kind as to relax a little, Anonymous. I also didn't at any point say people living in the North End are "too poor or stupid to know better". I delved more on the issue of complaining about how other people's homes look.

    I'm sure it (the trash) is frustrating. What I was saying was that I can understand where the by-law dept is coming from, that's all. I lived in a condo unit in the south end and, guess what? People who didn't live there dumped garbage in our bins ALL the time and, gasp, even tenants left oversized items near the bins. Who cares? It's not worth the energy to pick up the phone, wait on hold forever with 311, and whine when you can't name the people who are doing it. If the garbage wasn't being picked up in a timely manner then, yes, I see that as a major issue and well worth complaining about and the city should deal with it. On the other hand, I don't see complaining over how someone's home looks is as big of an issue unless someone's safety is in danger.

    PS - It's not possible to leave your trash behind my house so thanks anyway. ;)

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  11. Don't tell people to relax, that is, in fact, extremely condescending.

    And It is not just "frustrating". If you read the news, you would have seen the stories of fires being started in discarded furniture and in the big garbage bins. Kids also break into the derelict houses and set fires. The unkempt yards get vermin like mice and rats living there in the tall weeds and discarded junk.

    A street is a community that needs to look after it self. We keep an eye on each other in this neighborhood. If we didn't get on the landlords' cases in our neck of the woods, it would look worse than it does..

    So stay in your south side condo and don't talk down to people about something you know nothing about.

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    chiefsupply.com/search/police%20siren.aspx

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  13. This boils down to the justice system being incredibly, tragically broken.

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  14. Holly needs to read this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fixing_Broken_Windows

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  15. I grew up in a very small town in NS we had no issues and everyone said hi to everyone when you walked down the street. When I was 18 I moved here to Winnipeg with my parents. They picked me up at the airport and said they would take me for a little tour of the city before we headed home.. I liked the city but as we were driving to our home we were living in in EK we drove down Main Street my Mother Said this is the One place you should never go to. As we were driving along I watched a women walk to a local bar and walk in.. stumbling the whole time. that would have been fine except for the part where she was at the time pushing a baby stroler with a child about 2 years old and she precieded to leave the child out side and go in to the bar. That was my first experience of the northend and has stayed with me for the many years i have lived here. I have now lived here for over 20 years and have lived in every part of the city and felt safe every where I lived. I now live in North Point Douglas for the last 7 years. And gotta say the street that I live on is a nice one not too many issues. In the summer you get the parties that flow out on the street the occasional stabbing one person shot and killed one evening.. but I still feel safe.. why you ask? well as Ray has said I do not associate with these people, I do not do or sell drugs and do not walk the streets at 4 in the morning. The majority of the folks living on my street are home owners and that makes a big difference they care when they own. The majority of the issues are the renters and they come an go. There are so many good people in the north end but all the rest of the city hear about are they drug dealers the gang members and the dregs of society that live here. I think the majority are good people and like living here. And just to add, I live here not because I have to but because I want to. I can live in any part of the city but like this area and the people that live here. I have great neighbors and we all watch out for each other.

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  16. @ Holly,
    There is no reason that people in any neighbourhood should be allowed to have their house fall into disrepair, in fact, in some ways, even less so here in there North End where there are many grant and programs available to lower income homeowners to help them maintain their homes. If they can't afford basic maintenance (which is generally all anyone needs to do from day one) then perhaps they should reconsider homeownership, not just take on the attitude that it doesn't matter because of what part of town they live in.

    As well, sometime the things that look bad that you might think are trivial can have an effect on neighbouring houses as well, things like broken eavestroughing.

    I have a right, just like everyone else in this city, to enjoy my quality of life and to not have my neighbours make me miserable. The fact that I live in the North End, rich or poor, does not change that.

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