One fateful morning in 2014, I sat down with Tolu Ilelaboye, the Youth Engagement Coordinator for the Winnipeg Foundation at the time. Dean Peachey (then-Executive Director of Global College) and I had put together an application for the Winnipeg Foundation’s Emerging Leaders’ Fellowship Program, so Tolu had invited me down to her office for an interview.
The very first question she asked me in the interview was, “Why do you want to create a human rights website in Winnipeg?” I told her these 2 reasons.
The density of human rights events in Winnipeg.
While completing a degree in Human Rights and International Development Studies at the University of Winnipeg, I had noticed a lot of events happening in this sector-although I didn’t always hear about them in time to attend! After graduating, I independently launched a website called Seeking Social Justice (now defunct) and began to send out a monthly compilation of the human rights events happening in Winnipeg to help spread the word.
A big shout-out to the 20 people that actually looked at this website (okay, two – thanks, Mom & Dad). While the site didn’t quite fulfill the gap that I felt existed, it was an important part of our story. Tallying up those events each month demonstrated to me just how dense this sector was and solidified the idea that launching a real initiative (with someone who knows how to build a pretty website!) was worth doing.
The lack of a central space to hear about this sector
At the time, a Google search of “human rights Winnipeg” delivered the following results:
- The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (A New York shareholder organization)
- The Manitoba Human Rights Commission
- The Canadian Museum for Human Rights website
- The Canadian Museum for Human Rights restaurant
- The Canadian Museum for Human Rights gift shop
- The Canadian Museum for Human Rights reviews
It was infuriating that the first search result wasn’t even a Winnipeg-based charity! While the Manitoba Human Rights Commission is a relevant search result, its focus was on addressing human rights complaints. Similarly, the CMHR is great – but it mainly (and fairly) promotes its own exhibits. Neither of these entities filled this gap of promoting all the great work happening in our city.
Cue: The Hub
Thanks to generous support from the Winnipeg Foundation, we were able to build and launch our site two years ago today. Over the last two years, I’ve worked to spread the word about our organization: I recognize that the more people that know about us, the more people will know about all of the great events and initiatives being shared through our website and social media platforms.
We still have a lot of work to do, but on this special day, we wanted to share three quick messages!
- Thank you to all those that have helped us along the way. Whether you were one of our first followers or have just joined us recently, thank you. Thanks to the organizations that met with us before we launched and gave us ideas. Thank you to the organizations that have given us feedback since launching on how we can improve our site! Thank you to the 13 volunteers that have just joined our team: I’m so excited to have you on board! (Stay tuned: Their staff profiles will be up soon!).
- Let us know if there are ways that you think we can improve what we’re doing – or if you have a totally new idea of something we should start doing! Whether you work for an organization or are an interested Winnipegger, we value your input.
- It’s cheesy to say thank you twice…. But we are just so grateful to be part of such an inspiring and vibrant community. Over the last two years, I have manually added nearly 1,600 events to our calendar. It’s been incredible to see so many groups taking action on so many issues. On countless occasions, I’ve heard about something disheartening on the news and then have immediately seen Winnipeggers rise up and plan an event or campaign in response. I’ve seen many months have over 100 events on our calendar, and have seen a single day that has 14 human rights events occurring! I get excited working on the Hub because of the many hardworking activists, groups, and organizations that are tirelessly working to make our city, country, and world a better place.
I look forward to documenting and promoting all that the coming year has to bring!