Vital Conversations convene citizens on issues of importance, as determined by the community. They were born out of the community’s enthusiastic response to sessions held as a part of Winnipeg’s 2017 Vital Signs® report, which combines research, a public survey and community conversations to provide insights on what’s important to Winnipeggers. Four themes emerged: Reconciliation, Belonging, Well-being, and Lines that Divide our community.


Building Strength, Confidence, and Community: The Journey of Olympian Waneek Horn-Miller

February 11, 2020

The Winnipeg Foundation, in partnership with the Manitoba Aboriginal Sports and Recreation Council and the Winnipeg Aboriginal Sport Achievement Centre, presented a Vital Conversation with keynote speaker, Waneek Horn-Miller, Indigenous advocate and Olympic athlete from the Kahnawake Mohawk territory.

Waneek Horn-Miller is a Mohawk woman from the Kanesatake territory in Quebec. In 1990, Mohawks from the Kanestake, Kahnawake and Akwesasne territories, formed the Mohawk Resistance and constructed barricades to stop the expansion of a golf course on to Mohawk traditional burial grounds in Oka, Quebec. The barricades sparked a 78 day stand off that came to be known as the Oka Crisis. On the last day of the crisis, Waneek, then 14 years old, was stabbed by a soldiers bayonet while holding her 4 year old sister.

The Oka crisis sparked a national discussion on the rights of Indigenous people. In 2020, Indigenous rights remain an active topic of the Canadian discourse– most currently with the Wet’suwet’en in British Columbia.

Waneek Horn-Miller shared her story of post-traumatic stress from the stabbing in 1990, and turning that trauma into motivation. Waneek went on to represent Canada in the 2000 Sydney Olympics as co-captain of the water polo team.


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Past Vital Conversations

Public input was key to the Vital Signs® 2017 report . One way The Winnipeg Foundation gathered input was by convening a series of public discussions on community priorities. Between January and June 2017, The Foundation held three Vital Conversations.

Learn more


December 2, 2019

People are living longer than ever and, for the first time in history, there are now more older adults in Canada than children. How can people stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible? And how can we make communities more age-friendly so that people can stay healthy?

Keynote speaker Verena Menec, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba. Her research focuses on factors related to healthy aging, and how to make communities more age-friendly.

This Vital Conversation was convened by The Winnipeg Foundation in partnership with the Manitoba Association of Senior Centres.


Verena Menec, PhD, Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba

The Winnipeg Foundation's BeCause Radio - Highlights from Living Long and Staying Strong, including interviews with Manitoba Association of Senior Centres, A&O Support Services for Older Adults and Vital Conversation participants.

The Winnipeg Foundation's BeCause Radio - Interview with Verena Menec.

September 11, 2019

Did you know your health is directly affected by climate change? We have 11 years left to reverse the harm we are already seeing according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

Keynote Kim Perrotta, the Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment discussed the many aspects of the environment through a health lens. Local panelists Dr. Ian Mauro, Prairie Climate Centre and Heather Mitchell, Green Action Centre, joined the discussion and shared their insights on adaptation, mitigation and action in Winnipeg.

This Vital Conversation was convened by The Winnipeg Foundation in partnership with Green Action Centre.


Kim Perrotta, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment


Dr. Ian Mauro, Prairie Climate Centre

Heather Mitchell, Green Action Centre

Audience poll

Full audio of the keynote and panelists.

The Winnipeg Foundation’s Because & Effect podcast - Interview with Dr. Ian Mauro.

The Winnipeg Foundation's BeCause Radio - Episode 22 focuses on Environment & Animal Welfare.

May 2, 2019

The 1919 General Strike united citizens, shut down a city and revolutionized workers’ rights across a nation. In this special PechaKucha Night — held in partnership with The Winnipeg Foundation — hear artists, writers and filmmakers present tributes to the event that changed Canadian history forever. PechaKucha style!

Presented by The Winnipeg Foundation, Graphic Designers of Canada, Manitoba and 1919 General Strike Centennial Committee


  • Rick Chafe, Playwright and Screenwriter
  • Noam Gonick, Filmmaker/Artist
  • Donna Janke, Travel Writer
  • Sabrina Janke, Tour Program Manager, Exchange District Biz
  • Emily Leedham, Organizer, Fight for $15 & Fairness Manitoba
  • Molly McCracken, Daughter of the late Melinda McCracken
  • Anya Moodie-Foster, Learning and Engagement Supervisor, Manitoba Museum
  • James Naylor, Professor and Author
  • Harriet Zaidman, Author
  • Richard Zaric, Author

BeCause Radio

Filmmaker and artist Noam Gonick discusses his streetcar art installation commemorating the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike on The Winnipeg Foundation’s radio show on CJNU.

March 25, 2019

How do the people of Canada practice reconciliation? The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report was released in 2015. Achieving reconciliation was likened to climbing a mountain — needing to take one step at a time. Are Canadians walking together?

Senator Murray Sinclair shared his insights on a nation’s journey.

This Vital Conversation with Senator Murray Sinclair was presented by The Winnipeg Foundation, in partnership with the Sacred Seven Youth Council of Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre.


November 29, 2018

United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal No. 1 is No Poverty by 2030. Ending poverty is no small task. We must recognize poverty is complex, multi-layered, and interconnected. We can be successful when all citizens can see humanity in the face of poverty.

The Winnipeg Foundation, in partnership with Make Poverty History Manitoba, convened an interactive Vital Conversation about envisioning a city without poverty.


Andrea Burkhart – Executive Director, End Poverty Edmonton


Kirsten Bernas – Make Poverty History Manitoba
Al Wiebe – Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness
Jackie Anderson – Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre

Facebook Live

Watch the presentations from the four panelists.

September 27, 2018

Richard Florida – author of The Rise of the Creative Class and The New Urban Crisis – was in Winnipeg to talk urban design as part of the Winnipeg Design Festival. The event was sponsored by The Winnipeg Foundation.

According to Mr. Florida, the reshaping of cities began in the 1980s as industrial-type jobs began disappearing and minds became the means of production for a creative economy. The ‘creative class’ is a term coined by Mr. Florida to describe the people that spur economic development and thriving cities replacing the industrial
development of yesterday.

Talent, technology and tolerance are the ingredients needed for a successful city, Mr. Florida says. Technology refers to the availability of high-tech jobs; talent refers to the creative and educated people of a city; and tolerance refers to the acceptance of immigrants, LGBTTQ+, and other marginalized communities. Mr. Florida
states all are needed for a city’s success.

Segueing nicely into his second book, Mr. Florida described how success gives rise to economic and geographic inequalities making people angry and anxious, creating the New Urban Crisis.

Questions from the audience solicited deliberate optimism from Mr. Florida. When asked how anger and anxiety can be remedied, Mr. Florida re-iterated ‘tolerance, acceptance and respect in a divided society is what is needed’, adding that mutual respect and the bond of humanity may be what save us from such anger and anxiety.

May 26, 2018

How walkable are Winnipeg neighbourhoods? Are they accessible by transit? Does that matter? These are some of the questions The Foundation’s Vital Conversation helped answer at last May’s pop-up fundraiser, Table for 1200 More.

See the results of the Vital Conversation survey, download:

April 3, 2018

Belonging was one of the four key findings identified in Winnipeg’s Vital Signs® 2017. In partnership with Storefront MB, we had a evening of learning more about home-grown urban plans and community designs that are breaking down divisions, cultivating belonging and fostering reconciliation and welcomed your ideas on innovations in community design.

Facebook Live

Watch the presentations from the four panelists.


Brent Bellamy – Number TEN Architectural Group
Paul Jordan – The Forks North Portage Partnership
Hijab Mitra – MISTECTURE
Jamil Mahmood – Spence Neighbourhood Association