Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Winnipeg From The Outside

Did you watch Saturday Night Live this weekend? I did.
Did you catch Seth Meyer's Weekend Update segment? I did.
Did you hear the one about the woman who requested to finish her beer before being attended to, after being shot in the eye? I did.
Thank goodness they didn't say it happened in Winnipeg.
Normally I like the small references to Winnipeg when watching shows on TV. Every now and then a show will say something about our town, and we gush with pride, knowing we can survive weather and circumstances that others may not want to, or be able to. We are a tough bunch, and are proud of it.
But I was not proud of this last mention of our town. No, not one little bit. Someone died at that party. They were shot to death. And the person with the eye injury was harmed by that same individual.
The person mentioned in this event must have a pretty serious alcohol problem to refuse medical attention until her beer was finished. And that is no laughing matter.
When thinking about Winnipeg from the outside, another story comes to mind. The Winnipeg Sun ran an article in August regarding a fight that broke out between several people attending a party on Garfield Street. The article was written by Mark Bonokoski. I guess this incident happened on his first day in town. He was shocked by what unfolded, saying he had never wittnessed anything like it in his "many years on the police beat" in Toronto. Again, this is nothing that we should be proud of. And again, it is a sign of major alcohol problems.
A third article I would like to mention is a blog post written by one of the Winnipeg Free Press interns I had the pleasure of meeting this last summer, William Burr. He wrote the post back in September, but I did not read it until today, when a fellow independent journalist sent me the link. Thanks Marty. It is a good read, and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in the view of Winnipeg from the Outside.
Here are a few paragraphs of his post that I would like to highlight:
People are proud of living here. And most impressive, there’s this dynamism, heart, and sense of belonging despite a brutal crime record, part of deep desperation and poverty.
I’m grimly fascinated by the stories. People stabbed for a beer. Groups of kids in their early teens bludgeoning a lone man or woman to death. A drunken woman smashing a baby’s head on the pavement. Eighty-year-old widows robbed while paying their respects at a cemetery.
And the strangest of all, a brawl that Ian dubbed social Darwinism gone wrong, where people got into two vehicles and started smashing into one another. The 17-year-old girl at the wheel of one of the vehicles is charged with first degree murder in the death of a man who was run over. She also apparently inadvertently ran over her boyfriend’s mother.
Most people in the city just get on with their lives, despite the horrors. What else can you do?
Have we become too jaded to see the violence and alcohol problems in our city for what they are? Are we so used to the endless stories of stabbings, assaults, machette attacks, shootings, and other violent crimes that we cannot see what a violent city Winnipeg is becoming?
I checked my twitter feed today, only to see that there was a machette attack on Selkirk Ave, a stabbing on Spence, and three people arrested for their part in three assaults that took place on Sunday.
This is not how I want people to see my home town. And this is not the City I want to live in. There is too much violence, and far too many incidents tied to alcohol.
Get some help Winnipeg. You need an intervention. And you need it now.


  1. You said what we are all thinking. But, like the above piece says - " Most people in the city just get on with their lives, despite the horrors. What else can you do? "
    On a positive note... It does provide alot of fodder for jokes. Like Homer Simpson said - "That's funny 'coz it's not me!"

  2. Mr Bonokoski may have PTSD after a year of the Winnipeg Police Beat.