What’s so special about Winnipeg? Why would we dedicate an entire issue of our magazine to this melancholy metropolis—a frigid blip on the Canadian landscape? Despite Winnipeg’s relative isolation and subzero clime, it has bred some of the most avant-garde art and rebellious politics. We explore the urban lore of this contradictory city in our latest issue. Guest editors on our urban trek include esteemed filmmakers Guy Maddin (My Winnipeg), Noam Gonick (Stryker), and former Winnipegger and writer Ria Julien. Winnipeg’s radical heroes (not Burton Cummings) are also immortalized in eight collectible Winnipeg alternative celebrity baseball cards available in this issue.
We begin our exploration in Winnipeg’s North End, where Jim Silver charts the culture and politics of Winnipeg’s most maligned and impoverished neighbourhood. Spatially and socially segmented from the rest of Winnipeg, the North End has been both a lively immigrant community and a hellhole of gangs, drugs and despair. But amidst the social and urban decay, shining examples of alternatives thrive. Like Neechi Foods, an aboriginal run co-op promoting community welfare and healthy eating choices for families, and Mondragon Café and Bookstore, a radical experiment in worker’s self-management and organic eating.
For those unfamiliar with Winnipeg’s radical past Canadian Dimension publisher Cy Gonick traces the city’s alternative history from nineteenth century Jewish communists to twenty-first century aboriginal anarchists. The fascinating and inspiring radicalism of Winnipeg has always been shaken up by changes in the world economy. Gutted by free-trade policies, Winnipeg is now poised to become the heartland of NAFTA trade and home to Canada’s first Free Trade Zone. Chris Webb offers an investigative report on what this development means for the neighbourhoods and workers under the heel of the economic crisis.
Our issue would be incomplete without an examining Winnipeg’s thriving arts scene. Ed Janzen argues that “Winnipeg artists and musicians make better boosters than its political and business leaders ever did.” Guest editor Noam Gonick echoes this in his captivating portrait of the queer, radical founder of the Manitoba Theatre Centre, John Hirsch. The ghost of this cultural pioneer epitomizes the industrious and rebellious spirit that permeates art, life and politics in Winnipeg. This spirit can be glimpsed in Guy Maddin’s Winnipeg hipster tapestry of a night spent at Little Italy’s Bar Italia. Maddin’s barroom voyeurism highlights the mad bustle of gin soaked hedonism in Winnipeg’s notorious Bar-I.
We’ve had great feedback on our extensive coverage of the Canadian Waffle movement. In the latest issue, we feature a personal dimension by Pat Smart on growing into feminism in the waffle. On a different front, Arthur Schafer exposes the real pill-pushers in Canada’s healthcare system: doctors under the influence of pharmaceutical giants. “The sad fact is that virtually all modern medicine floats on a sea of drug company money,” writes Schafer.
Of course Winnipeg is special to us, but we would love to do a focus on Our Regina, Our Edmonton, Our Halifax, Our Guelph, and Our Montreal etc. – even Our Toronto. If you would like to help us plan a focus on your city, get in touch. Let’s see what we can work out.