Selkirk Avenue in Winnipeg’s North End is now home to a new educational facility which is contributing to community revitalization efforts already taking place in the historic neighbourhood. The University of Manitoba building is home to its inner city social work ACCESS program and the University of Winnipeg bachelor of education ACCESS program.
“Accessibility to post secondary education is a priority for the Manitoba government. We are strong supporters of the ACCESS programs,” says Advanced Education and Training Minister Diane McGifford.
“This new facility, located near the Urban Circle and the Murdo Scribe Centre, is an excellent addition to the neighbourhood. Together we are making a difference by building a healthier and more vibrant community.”
Designed by Prairie Architects, 485 Selkirk Avenue provides new space consistent with the needs of adult learners for two degree programs for students who have not traditionally considered post-secondary education: an education degree, through the Faculty of Education at the University of Winnipeg, and a social work degree, offered through the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Manitoba. Since 1981, the two programs had been located in Sir Sam Steele School on Chester Street in Elmwood.
The $3.5-million facility is supported through a $1-million lead grant from the Winnipeg Foundation’s Moffat Family Fund. In addition, the City of Winnipeg assisted the University of Manitoba in acquiring the Selkirk Avenue property.
“The University of Manitoba is proud to be a part of the revitalization of Winnipeg’s North End,” says Dr. Emőke Szathmáry, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Manitoba.
“We have created a facility designed specifically for students, their instructors and support staff, allowing better access to the inner city social work program of the University of Manitoba and the education program of the University of Winnipeg. With the opening of this building, the visionary gift of the Moffat Family Fund at The Winnipeg Foundation will bring education, resources and learning visibly to life in the heart of Winnipeg.”
Note: 485 Selkirk Avenue was renamed in October in honour of University of Manitoba Chancellor William Norrie.
“The University of Winnipeg has put a high priority on Aboriginal education,” said Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, University of Winnipeg president.
“Our recent growth of over five per cent in Aboriginal student enrolment indicates that we are listening to our constituency and that we are headed in the right direction. Joining with the Moffat Family and working with our community, we are all contributing to access and excellence for inner-city students and the future of inner-city education.”
In addition to classrooms, offices and student spaces, the 15,000-sq.- ft. building features an outdoor courtyard and structural poles extending beyond the roof in a unique design.
Dennis Kwan of Prairie Architects notes: “Some of the main guiding design principles for this building were: Community, Symbol, Gathering, and Respect. The low entry roof twists and spirals up over the student lounge area, exposing its timber ‘bones’ at the dramatic peak. While the outdoor courtyard may be the ‘lung’ of the building, the student lounge naturally is the informal meeting place or the ‘heart’ of the building.
“Many other green building features were incorporated to express more respect for Mother Earth, such as maximizing natural light, natural ventilation, and salvaging a portion of the existing building that was here before it,” Kwan says.
This particular Bachelor of Education program began under auspices of Brandon University in 1972 and was called the Winnipeg Centre Project. The program moved to the University of Manitoba in 1978 and then to the University of Winnipeg in 1997. The Inner City Social Work Program was initiated by the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Social Work in 1981. Each program now has about 300 graduates.
The student population served by the Social Work and Education programs closely reflects that of the inner city. Approximately half of the centre’s students are Aboriginal, one-quarter are recent immigrants or refugees to Canada and one-quarter are survivors of poverty, racism, violence, childhood trauma or other challenges.