A renewed sense of opportunity

Photo: Orange Shirt Day, 2019. A Round Dance is held at Portage and Main to educate people about the Residential School System and its impact on Indigenous communities.

The second decade of the new millennium began with Winnipeg being declared a “Cultural Capital.” This designation was based on the strong arts community and the many orchestras, choirs and other arts organizations operating in the city.

In March 2010 at the Vancouver Olympics, Sydney Crosby scored the winning goal in the gold medal hockey game. The Canadians defeated the Americans.

Throughout the decade, Manitoba encouraged immigration, with more than 150,000 immigrants arriving between 2000 and 2014. From 2012 to 2014 alone, more than 30 per cent of the 42,000 immigrants who arrived were from the Philippines.

In January 2011, Target stores announced they were opening for business in a number of Canadian cities, many in former Zellers stores. In what was called an “unmitigated disaster” the move was not completed successfully, and all stores closed in 2015.

In February 2011, the Paddlewheel Room in the downtown Hudson’s Bay store was taken over by new owners. Unfortunately, the change couldn’t save the once-beloved space, and the restaurant served its last meal in January 2013.

In May 2011 it was the Assiniboine River’s turn to flood. The province’s solution was to send heavy machinery to the location on the river called Hoop and Holler, a bend close to Portage la Prairie. Holes were dug to allow the swollen river to flow out over the countryside, preventing flooding further east but angering nearby farmers and residents.

In June 2011, the thing many Winnipeggers had been waiting for happened: the Atlanta Thrashers hockey team arrived in the city and shortly after changed their name to the Winnipeg Jets. In the 2017–18 season, the Jets advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs and thousands of Winnipeggers celebrated at the whiteout street parties. Unfortunately, the Jets lost the Western Conference finals.

For many, the return of the Jets signaled a reversal in Winnipeg’s fortune. The city’s downtown saw growth and development throughout the 2010s, including condo development along Waterfront Drive, an extensive renovation of the convention centre, and the construction of True North Square.

In October 2014, bakers Beau Burton and Joanne Toupin realized a dream and opened the Sleepy Own Bakery in Winnipeg’s West End. It is one of a number of “from scratch” bakeries operating in the city and today signals a growing trend of supporting local and independent businesses and makers.

In June 2015, national news magazine Maclean’s dubbed Winnipeg as Canada’s most racist city. Later that year, the Royal Commission on Truth and Reconciliation released its final report, which included 94 Calls to Action intended to, “Redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of reconciliation.”

In September 2019, a reported six million people, including thousands in Winnipeg, participated in Climate Strikes around the world to demand action be taken to address climate change. The movement was inspired by teenage Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg.

An early snow and ice storm in October 2019, dubbed a “tree-apocolypse” or “tree-maggedon,” impacted at least 300,000 city trees which had yet to drop their leaves that fall. Many were damaged beyond saving. It placed a renewed focus on the importance of Winnipeg’s expansive urban forest, with Mayor Brian Bowman reiterating his goal of planting one million trees within the next 20 years.

2019 ended on a high note, when the Blue Bombers ended a 28-year championship drought by winning the 2019 Grey Cup. Unfortunately, they were unable to defend the title in 2020 as the arrival of COVID-19 meant there was no Canadian Football League (CFL) games played in 2020.

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