Look past suburbia and experience Winnipeg

Winnipeg is good, you are just sheltered

Throughout my life, I haven’t heard a lot of people rave about Winnipeg.

Recently, I drove around Winnipeg taking pictures of places that I consider to be my favourite spaces for a class project. I took photos of my own home, explored my neighbourhood and hit spots that I consider to be quintessentially Winnipeg. I let myself listen to music and appreciate these spaces and my life here.

As I got lost in Tuxedo, I got flashbacks of conversations that I had with people growing up. Like most kids do, we talked about leaving home, which to us was Winnipeg.

My friends would discuss how they felt they could never live their adult lives here, and bring up all the better places to spend our time. I listened to rants about Winnipeg’s lack of culture, and how it would be much better to live in Vancouver or Toronto. I nodded in agreement, never appreciating the city I lived in.

These kids thought that they were the connoisseurs of Winnipeg music, culture and art, when in reality they were just privileged kids living sheltered lives in the suburbs.

Most of these people had never left their gated communities to actually experience what Winnipeg has to offer. I heard countless complaints about a lack of culture, but the only time I ever saw these people claim to have experienced culture was when they went to EPCOT during family vacation.

I heard them whine about how there was nothing to do and nowhere to go, but the most they’d explored in the city was the mall and the “forest” near their house.

Eventually, I moved out of the suburbs and grew older. I became brave enough to explore untouched territory — places like downtown, the Exchange and the North End. Growing up, I only ever heard about the dangers these places held, never the positives that I would experience by visiting them.

I used to agree with those who complained, but with time, my opinions have changed. I no longer think that these people are cool. Rather, I pity them for never leaving their untouched suburbs.

There is no problem with living in a suburb. The problem is complaining about our city when you haven’t even tried to experience what it has to offer. It is easy to get caught up in the hate about Winnipeg, but I’m sick of hearing about how much people hate Winnipeg when they haven’t even set foot outside of their little bubbles. We always hear about the cold or the fact that we are known as one of the murder capitals of Canada, but try to look past that and face Winnipeg yourself.

If you’re into art and design, there is so much to see here. You could take a stroll through the Winnipeg Art Gallery or go see the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden. Go look at the warming huts at the Forks, and the many displays of public art throughout the city.

Take an art class and connect with others interested in the same things as you. I know it’s not what you’re used to in beige Sage Creek, but it’ll satisfy your craving for art.

If music is more your thing, dive into the local artist scene and go to a show this weekend. I’m sure you’ll find something better than the sound of lost cars in Bridgwater.

As for culture, there is a lot to explore. We have the highest Indigenous population of any city in Canada, and there are so many thriving cultures here. In 2019, Winnipeg saw 14,580 immigrants arrive from many places across the world. You can experience these varied cultures by going to events like Folklorama, or even just befriending those with backgrounds different from your own.

At the root of all these suggestions and problems are people. Stop hanging around people that complain about living here. Sitting around with that negativity isn’t going to make anything better. Surround yourself with people that appreciate this city — those that have made Winnipeg theirs. Once I stopped being around complainers, I started living a more appreciative life here.

Take a moment to realize whether or not you are the problem. Is Winnipeg boring? Or are you cruising around River Park South all weekend? If you move to Vancouver or Toronto, is that going to change your mindset? Remember — wherever you go, you take yourself with you.

As you finish reading this, I hope that you’ve realized that maybe Winnipeg isn’t the problem. If you’re bored and complaining, take a step outside your comfort zone and explore your city. Before you leave Winnipeg, indulge in all it has to offer.