Age 21. Resides in Winnipeg, MB.

I hope you don’t mind the interruption in usual programming. Last week my class was given a photojournalism assignment for Festival du Voyageur.

This week I’m incapacitated with a flu. So I haven’t left the house (or my bed) in nearly two days now. I figured interviewing someone in this state would not only require some legwork I’d struggle with, but would also put someone’s health at risk.

Plus, I look sort of terrifyingly disheveled. Instead, here’s a story from myself.

When I was in grade 11, my best friend Kira was dating this guy named Alex. He was a couple years older than us, and definitely seemed cooler. He trades vintage clothes for a living. During their relationship, Kira invited me to come hang out with them a couple times. We went to his place and did a variety of things high school kids enjoyed, like play Soul Caliber and smoke pot.

Alex lived with three other guys in the top two floors of a duplex. I met two of them: Paul and Boreal. We had some interesting times in that house. I also met guys named Levi, Annachie and Noah there.

At the time, Kira was the only person I really knew. Only person I really felt comfortable with. I enjoyed Alex too, but I guess my stoned high school self was kind of shy?

They broke up after about a year.

I took Kira to our high school grad. Her and I had spent every lunch hour together through my 5 years at Grant Park. We went to my cabin, to concerts, to meet boys and to the bar together. Until the fall of 2013.

I moved to Ottawa to attend Carleton University. She moved to Israel to attend a dance school. She lived with her aunt and uncle out there. Last time she spent a couple months in Israel, she brought back home made peach jam for me. They owned a peach farm.

This time, we expected to be separated for good. Over the summer, she had bailed on our plans a fair bit. I figured she didn’t like my new boyfriend.

About a week into living in Ottawa, I tried to reach out to her on Skype. See how she was, how the flights were, if she was excited to be in Israel for the year. When she finally messaged me back, I cried. She dumped me. She listed off reasons for why we couldn’t be friends anymore. There was no hint of forgiveness in her words. She called me out on any — or all — of my flaws.

About a year later, we were both back in Winnipeg. I haven’t hung out with her since, other than running into her at an occasional party.

But I see Paul almost every week. I see Boreal and Levi on a monthly basis. They play in one of my favourite local bands. I see Alex regularly too, and every time, he expresses some gratitude that we’ve stayed friends.

It was strange — I had met Paul and Levi, hung out with them those couple times, then never thought of them much. Hardly saw them. I stayed friends with Boreal because of mutual interests and a natural connection (we can talk. For hours.) but Paul and Levi and Alex sort of fell off my social map.

Now I see Paul every week and he’s hilarious!

The social circles in this city seem to range from totally connected and shared, to strung together by a thin strand of individuals. I still see Kira sometimes. I see Annichie occasionally, and Noah goes to my school. Maybe it’s just the size of this city that makes everyone feel so close.

I usually see Levi and Boreal at gigs like Big Fun or Real Love Thursdays at the Handsome Daughter.

Keep an eye out for sweet local bands, like their band Umami.





Défilé sur glace (Fashion on Ice)

On Sunday this past weekend, my partner and I attended Festival du Voyageur to see a fashion show on ice.

An incredible group of Winnipeggers, including people who work as architects, lawyers, nurses, fitness coaches, filmmakers, and many more, modelled a variety of designs. The runway reached along the log fence of Rendez-vous on Ice, the free meeting place for food, drinks and hot chocolate where the Red River and Assiniboine River meet.

The show was set to begin at three p.m. By 3:05 p.m., a large crowd filled half of The Red River Mutual Trail to watch the display of artistry and typical Winnipeg toughness.

Some outfits suited the cold temperature, while others revealed a little more. Regardless, each model walked with bright smiles and a hint of attitude in each pose.

At the end, they gathered together for a final photo while shouting “Hého!”

The crowd watches for the next model to walk, wearing fashion as art, from The Red River Mutual Trail at Festival du Voyageur on Sunday./Jennifer Doerksen
Joelle Pastora-Sala strikes a pose for cameras near the start of the runway last Sunday./Jennifer Doerksen


Angel Bhathal shares a big smile with the onlooking crowd as she walks back to the dressing tent at the start of the runway./Jennifer Doerksen
Producer Liliane Lavack directs the show from a spot in the crowd through a walkie-talkie./Jennifer Doerksen
Jennifer Ashley smiles to herself as she begins her strut down the catwalk last Sunday for Défilé sur glace./Jennifer Doerksen
The cast of models gather in front of a crowd of photographers for a final shot after the 20-minute fashion show./Jennifer Doerksen
Close-up of gold detail makeup on Julia Lim after the fashion show. Every model had some form of gold detail on their face to unify the style of the show./Jennifer Doerksen



Age 22. Resides in Winnipeg, MB.

Sadie moved to Winnipeg when she was fifteen. Her true home is Sagkeeng First Nation, but she’s here for school and to gain as much understanding as she can.

Sadie has a complicated relationship with Winnipeg. But there are aspects that she loves — namely working in the Village, a community within the North End that is creating a cultural revolution.

I remember the feeling I had going to those events. Even just going to the flashmob round dance at Polo Park. That was a big one for me. I remember just looking up and there’s native people everywhere. You know? You never see that other than like treaty days at the res or something. But going there and there’s singing, there’s drumming and people are round dancing… Just the energy in the room  was just like holy fuck. This is amazing. I love this. I ended up getting addicted to that feeling, of getting involved and being in that space. It was just a safe space, for neechi people. I don’t know how to explain it… you kinda get a high from it. That kind of drove me to do more community stuff, immerse myself in the books of indigenous scholars, and learning all about that and about politics — you start getting frustrated with all the bullshit. So that was that… I remember distinctly that feeling. Being at that flash mob. It was a life changer for me.”

The flash mob was a part of Idle No More, one of the inaugural events that started Sadie’s  dedication to learning about the current situation, and applying her knowledge to village work.

“We totally de-capitalized that space. Capitalism, that’s what it’s ultimately about, like consumerism and we halted that for however long. We totally indigenized that space, it was so cool. Everyone was like “what’s happening?”. It blew peoples minds. that was the cool part.”

Since then, events have begun happening regularly. When talking to Sadie, she seemed astounded at the amount of stuff going on this weekend alone.

“We’re trying to revitalize here. I’m pretty amazed that I’m living in this time of history of cultural resurgence. Language revitalization, we’re trying to get our clan systems going, i feel like this is the perfect time to be living in Winnipeg. Especially when it has the highest Aboriginal population and the fasted growing population.”

Some of the organizations that have sprung up to take on the challenges include:



Age 31. Resides in Winnipeg, MB.

Anny loves Winnipeg. She moved here when she was four.

I moved to the West End of Winnipeg, which is where I live now. I live a block south of where I grew up. I guess i have moved around a lot. I was born in Fort St. John, then we moved to the south mainland. When I moved to Winnipeg we lived on Agnes for a really really long time. But then I guess my mom and dad were ready to break off as a nuclear unit, so we went from living of a house of 14 people to just the four of us living in the Maples in Winnipeg.” 

She knows that Winnipeg isn’t as bad as some would make it seem.

I think that Winnipeggers are really self deprecating, and especially in the 90’s and 2000’s it was very “in” to hate Winnipeg. But I think that as many people moved away, and then experienced life in other cities and then came back, I think there’s a resurgence of people returning to Winnipeg in their 30s and bringing home the things that they love and making a space here. So you see tons of great initiatives starting up like little shops and coffee shops and pop-up stores and all that stuff happening now here. I think that people are starting to love Winnipeg in the way that I’ve always loved Winnipeg.”

Anny’s lived in other parts of Canada, for grad school and volunteer programs. But Winnipeg has something different going on than other Canadian cities. Sounds to me like something personal.

A few years ago, I started hanging out on this forum on line for photography. Winnipeg photographers. Because I was just getting into photography, and I wanted to find a community to do photography with. So I met a few people on there, made friends. You would never think that our circles would overlap. But one day, he [a friend] invited me out to a concert in a place called The Cyrk. I had never been there before so it was a completely new venue, a house concert, and I thought he would be the only person in the room that I knew. But when I got there I knew like five people in the room. As big as our city is —  like we’re not a small city, we’re  a fair sized city — there’s a very small town kind of experience in that your social circles are very very likely to overlap. 

So in that room was my high school vice principal, my friend from my undergrad degree, and people form different areas of my life — convened in this one room. I think that’s a really typical Winnipeg experience. And they shouldn’t have been in the same room either, that’s the thing.”

She was laughing by the end of the story.

“That kind of speaks to a different theory that I have, in that people see Winnipeg when they come in visit, and depending on where you’re located in social circles and culture, you either think Winnipeg is really boring and dead, or you think Winnipeg is really lively. Like alive and rich and exciting and I think it’s the division between whether your looking for a street of clubs or you’re looking for a subculture of different small venues and house concerts and artist’s lofts. You’re not going to find a big party scene in Winnipeg right out in the public. What you need to have are friendships and connections and get invited to The Cyrk for a house concert where you apparently know half the people in the room.”

As Anny told me this story, I thought of the house shows, underground shows and small music festivals I’ve been to. There are definitely some tight-knit communities surrounding music in Winnipeg, and a lot of them connect in weird ways.

Personally, I love spending time with Gil Carrol and the Real Love Winnipeg crowd. They host local shows year round, and a beautiful summer festival. They also overlap with the crowds at The Good Will Social Club. Check it out for ways to find an “in” in Winnipeg: