Building an inclusive history

Literacy, Education & Employment

Centennial institute provides scholarships, promotes storytelling

The Winnipeg Foundation is an embodiment of local history. The Foundation’s new Centennial Institute is helping enrich the study of history by helping to ensure different stories are heard, histories are examined, and truths are respected.

“Vibrant communities because stories are heard, histories examined and truths respected.”

Creating an inclusive history

Foundation founder William Forbes Alloway came to Manitoba in 1870 as a member of the Wolseley Expedition. During the following years, he and his wife Elizabeth enjoyed a full life as active participants in Winnipeg society, prompting the creation of Canada’s first community foundation in 1921. At the time, Alloway said:

“Since I set foot in Winnipeg 51 years ago, Winnipeg has been my home and has done more for me than it ever may be in my power to repay. I owe everything to this community, and I feel that it should derive some benefit from what I have been able to accumulate.”

In their book, Structures of Indifference, authors Mary Jane Logan McCallum and Adele Perry describe Winnipeg around 1921 as follows:

“Capitalists boasted of Winnipeg’s industrial potential and labour radicals argued for a society based on human needs, not profits, but Indigenous people were rarely included in the discussion.”

Winnipeg is a city built on immigration and the diversity of its population includes many traditions. Mutual respect requires an understanding of our heritage.

In celebration of its centennial in 2021, The Winnipeg Foundation established the Centennial Institute, which is dedicated to promoting and preserving different histories. Today, The Winnipeg Foundation sees reconciliation as a priority and therefore giving voice to Indigenous perspectives on our history is an important element.

The creation of a civil society, the importance of human rights as part of our collective identity and the underlying philanthropic values that characterize our city and province are all important elements based in the past that have relevance to the present.

Each year, millions of dollars are distributed to worthy charitable endeavours because of the generosity demonstrated by people in the past. The Centennial Institute pays tribute to this remarkable legacy by supporting those with interest in the life and times of earlier generations. It represents the opportunity to not only tell the story of Canada but also to include the heritage of all Canadians and the many diverse social and cultural backgrounds that shape our national identity.

Scholarships supporting historical studies

To date, 17 funds have been established under the Centennial Institute. These student awards are offered at the graduate level for students studying in the Joint Master’s Program (JMP) from the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg, as well as a Centennial award offered to a PhD student. Topics of focus for the scholarships include:

  • History of Manitoba
  • History of human rights and social justice
  • History of Indigenous peoples
  • History of women
  • History of medicine and health
  • History of Canadian-American Relations
  • History of philanthropy
  • History of business
  • History of Canadian society

Additional scholarships are available for Indigenous students enrolled in the program. A study allowance is also available for students.

Learn more:

Centennial Institute grants for charitable organizations

These grants provide support to charitable organizations from across the province that undertake projects to enrich our appreciation of Manitoba history.

The following organizations received $15,000 grants for projects that embellish appreciation of Manitoba’s history from diverse perspectives:

  • National Indigenous Residential School Museum of Canada
  • African Communities of Manitoba
  • Winnipeg Chinese Cultural and Community Centre Corporation
  • Nor’West Co-Op Community Health Centre
  • Japanese Cultural Association of Manitoba
  • Yellowquill College
  • The WRENCH (The Winnipeg Repair Education and Cycling Hub)
  • Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM)
  • St. Amant Foundation
  • Women’s Health Clinic
  • Darlingford School Heritage Fund
  • Manitoba Historical Society

Centennial Institute steering committee

We are thankful to the following people for their guidance and support.

  • Richard Frost, chair
  • James Hanley, vice chair
  • Stan McKay, Elder
  • Janis Thiessen, JMP chair
  • Greg Bak
  • Jennifer Dueck
  • Joy Loewen
  • Maureen Matthews
  • Phi Vu Nguyen
  • Karen Sharma

History Department heads from U of M Tina Chen (2020), Roisin Cossar (2021) and from U of W Mark Meuwese were also active participants.

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

Winnipeg Foundation founder William Forbes Alloway

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