Bridging the gap between Winnipeg Police Service and newcomer communities

Children, Youth & Families

Immigration Partnership Winnipeg launches first-of-its-kind project in Canada

In recent years, the growing lack of trust among IBPOC (Indigenous, Black, People of Colour) communities towards law enforcement has come to the forefront of local, national, and international social justice concerns.

This issue has been amplified by the death of Eishia Hudson in Winnipeg, George Floyd in the U.S., and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, revealing systemic racism is present around the world.

Immigration Partnership Winnipeg (IPW), an off-shoot of the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg (SPCW), has been working to bridge the gap between Winnipeg Police Service and newcomer communities for more than a decade. However newcomer community members say they feel increasingly disengaged from community consultations on community safety, policing, and law enforcement.

Kathleen Vyrauen, project manager at Immigration Partnership Winnipeg, says they hear lots of anecdotes from their community members that demonstrate the strain between law enforcement and newcomers, Indigenous people, and People of Colour. What lacks is comprehensive public data on the policing of Indigenous and Black community members.

“It’s about data, but it’s about effect as well,” Vyrauen says. “When you’re stopped over and over again, what’s the impact on your feeling of safety as you walk down the street?”

With the support of a three-year, $150,000 grant from The Winnipeg Foundation, IPW will conduct a Community Safety and Inclusion project – the first initiative of its kind in Canada – to create a better understanding about areas of change that need to be addressed and build the framework to respond and work towards resolution.

“Any data we collect turns into an actionable item,” Vyrauen says.

The project has three phases, spanning three years. The process will begin with research and community consultation, then explore youth engagement, understanding, and activism, and reflect on the collected data and create a Community Safety and Inclusion Office – a space for community to identify, report, and document inequities.

“We’re really looking forward to where it goes in the future and to keep community voices at the forefront,” Vyrauen says.

This story is featured in the Fall 2021 issue of our Working Together magazine. Download or view the full issue on our Publications page.

About the photo

Kathleen Vyrauen, project manager at Immigration Partnership Winnipeg

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