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Community rallies to save West Kildonan library, stop deal to hand local libraries over to private developers

West Kildonan libraryWe received the following press release on May 13 from a group rallying to keep the West Kildonan Public Library, which has been a familiar community institution for many members of our community for years, from being sold: Community members from around northwest Winnipeg and across the city will gather on Tuesday, May 17, between 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM for a rally to save the West Kildonan library. The community is speaking up to make it clear to City Hall that they have not been consulted on this back-door deal to close our library.

They will be joined by community leaders from local residents’ associations, students from nearby schools in the Seven Oaks School Division, and elected officials stepping up to help the community save their local library.

A full list of speakers will be released the day before the event. The coalition will also be hosting a virtual town hall during the evening after the rally to hear residents’ thoughts and concerns.

What: Public Rally to Save West Kildonan Library Public Library

When: Tuesday, May 17, 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM

Where: Outside of the West Kildonan Library, 365 Jefferson Ave.

Who: Community leaders, students, and elected officials; hosted by Friends of West Kildonan Library coalition

Why: On May 3, northwest Winnipeg learned of a proposal by the City of Winnipeg to sell the West Kildonan Library in favour of a dark, inaccessible, privately leased space inside Garden City Shopping Centre. Since then, community leaders have come together to found the Friends of West Kildonan Library coalition and have been actively organizing and petitioning against this cut. This rally will bring the community together in solidarity, sending a clear message to Councillors that the City must save the West Kildonan Library and invest in our local branch, not a private developer’s shopping mall.

We had received an earlier press release on May 7 that gave more detailed information about the plan to save the library:
On Tuesday, May 3  the community learned that the City of Winnipeg plans to shut down the branch—which has stood at Jefferson and Powers for over half a century and was built as a Canadian Centennial gift to the community—in favour of a dark, inaccessible retail store location inside Garden City Shopping Centre. The proposed site would require the City to enter into an expensive decade-long lease, costing taxpayers over $6 million, paid to a private, for-profit corporation. The proposed location also does not meet the City’s own stated minimum requirements for a safe, accessible new library space.

“This move is bad news for northwest Winnipeg,” said Steve Snyder, Past Chair of the Seven Oaks Residents’ Association. “Closing our local library is a cut to city services in our neighbourhood and takes away a vital community resource for thousands of families, students and seniors.”

The proposed move would mean West Kildonan residents would need to travel further to access library services in a less accessible location.

“With three young children, access to a library within walking distance is so important,” said Jana, a Seven Oaks resident. “We visit the current location at least once every week or two and moving it to Garden City would make that much more difficult. In a growing city, we should be building new libraries to serve new communities, but we need one to serve West Kildonan as well. Public services in new areas shouldn’t come at the expense of those in established neighbourhoods.”

While a library to serve the growing communities around Garden City, The Maples and Amber Trails should be built, Garden City Residents’ Association Chair Daniel Guenther stressed that the proposed site does not meet standard for what the City has built in other neighbourhoods.

“The city’s plans would have the library wedged behind a Bulk Barn and other retailers without a single window or source of natural light. It’s little more than a glorified mall kiosk,” said Guenther. “If council wants to get serious about improving our local libraries, they should invest in the existing location while consulting with residents to identify a spot to build an additional library for the growing area.”

Families in the Jefferson neighbourhood, where the library is currently located, would be hit hardest.

“This plan would privatize city-owned land and hand millions in public dollars to a private, for-profit corporation,” said Evan Krosney, a Jefferson resident. “Over the past decade, the city has spent tens of millions investing in brand new, standalone public libraries for River Heights, Transcona and Windsor Park. Yet in West Kildonan, we’re facing the selloff of a public asset while paying millions to an out-of-province real estate investment firm. Our neighbourhood deserves better.”
A coalition of neighbours and community leaders are launching a campaign to save West Kildonan Library and stop the proposal for a second-class branch at Garden City mall. When the city previously threatened to close the library in 2020, an online petition amassed over 10,000 supporters. The coalition plans to build on this petition’s momentum with additional signatures, connect with outraged library patrons and urge area councillors Ross Eadie and Devi Sharma to oppose the closure.
In response to the notice we received about the proposed sale of the West Kildonan Library, I sent the following email to Evan Krosney:
Hi Evan,

I’m old enough to remember when the first West Kildonan Library was located in a strip mall next to where the Main Street IGA now stands. (It used to be a Dominion Store. Next door to the library was a branch of the CIBC. Further down the mall was a Woolworth’s. I think there was a Reitman’s store as well.) 
Then I remembered the excitement when the new library opened. I spent many an hour there as a student.
What a shame that such an important community institution might close. 
I’d be quite willing to post your press release to our website. 
Bernie Bellan
The Jewish Post & News
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Winnipeg Jewish Theatre to open season with world premiere of “Pals”

Richard Greenblatt and Diane Flacks in rehearsal for "Pals"

By BERNIE BELLAN The opening show of Winnipeg Jewish Theatre’s 2023-24 season promises to be a clever and poignant take on relationships between men and women, when “Pals” makes its world premiere on November 9 in the Berney Theatre, running until November 19.
“Pals” is the third two-person show created by the team of Diane Flacks and Richard Greenblatt. Interestingly, when I spoke with Flacks and Greenblatt while they took a break from rehearsing the play in Toronto, they told me that their previous two two-person plays also had one word titles – with four letters in both: “Sibs” and “Care.”
“Pals” is the story of two friends, told over a 25-year time period. Their friendship survives many tribulations, including both characters entering and exiting many other relationships. The play uncovers the underlying tensions that permeate all friendships.
“Pals” opens with the two characters meeting for the first time. I asked Diane and Richard whether the notion of their having sex ever enters into the plot, but Richard was quick to exclaim, “We don’t have sex.”
Diane also noted that, in the case of her character, she is married to another woman. (Diane is a lesbian in real life.)
The fact that the characters maintain a friendship though becomes a source of friction within their respective relationships. It raises the question: Can you have an intimate, albeit platonic, relationship, with a member of the opposite sex all the while you’re in a physical relationship with someone else?
I asked whether the characters in “Pals” are Jewish (which both Diane and Richard are), and the answer was “yes.”
Both Diane and Richard have had past associations with the Winnipeg Jewish Theatre. Richard’s goes back a very long time – when he directed the critically acclaimed “League of Nathans” in 1995.
Diane Flacks appeared in a one-night performance of a show in 2021 called “25 Questions for a Jewish Mother,” which was a part of that year’s Tarbut festival. There were no in-person events that year, due to Covid, but “Jewish Mother” was available on Zoom and had a huge audience.
In addition to writing for the stage, Diane Flacks has written for TV, including Working the Engels, Baroness Von Sketch Show, Young Drunk Punk, PR, and The Broad Side.
Richard Greenblatt has performed in theatres across Canada and abroad, as well as in feature films, television and radio. He co-wrote 2 Pianos 4 Hands, which played on five continents and in over 150 cities since it opened in 1996.
Pals is directed by the internationally acclaimed director Jillian Keiley. More information, tickets and 5-show subscriptions can be found at: You can also reach WJT by phone at (204) 477-7478.

To watch a preview video from Pals, click here:

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Local News

Simkin Centre introduces Friday afternoon Shabbat services – open to all

By BERNIE BELLAN (Posted Oct. 31) The Simkin Centre held its first ever Friday afternoon Erev Shabbat service this past Friday (Oct. 27), led by Rabbi Matthew Leibl.

There were more than 30 residents in attendance, along with various other outside guests. The service was approximately 45 minutes long and was filled with stories and songs associated with Friday evening Shabbats – some from Rabbi Leibl’s own childhood and some from more recent years.

The Friday afternoon Erev Shabbat services are now to become a regular features at the Simkin Centre and are open to anyone to attend.

To watch a short clip of Rabbi Leibl introducing his first Friday afternoon service click

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The complete text of MP Marty Morantz’s speech at the community vigil for Israel on October 10

Marty Morantz at the community vigil for Israel October 10

Tonight we are all Israelis!
Conservatives stand with Israel.
Pierre Poilievre stands with Israel.
On Saturday we woke up to unspeakable images.
We must stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel as it defends itself from these criminal and barbarous acts.
On Shabbat, Hamas brutally invaded Israel, invaded homes, killing hundreds, taking hostage hundreds.
More Jews were killed in Saturday’s attack than in any single day since the Holocaust.
Some 1500 human beings killed in a single day would be like 6000 Canadians being murdered in a single attack.
They were children, babies, men, women.
They were young people just out listening to music at a dance party.
This was an unprecedented brutal attack.
As we speak Hamas is threatening to execute innocent hostages.
This outrage cannot, must not stand.
Don’t let anyone tell you Hamas is the legitimate voice of the Palestinian people. It is not a government.
They are a genocidal murderous and evil death cult and they must be defeated.
But friends, we have seen evil before.
Jews have been persecuted for millennia, but we have survived.
Conservatives unequivocally condemn the invasion of Israel by Hamas terrorists and the sadistic violence that Hamas has carried out against innocent civilians.
Now is the time for moral clarity. There is no moral equivalency between democratic Israel and the butchers of Hamas.
There is no response, no matter how strong, that would be disproportionate to the crimes Hamas has committed.
Israel has the right to defend itself against these attacks and respond against the attackers – as any other country would.
Theodore Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, said, “If you will it, it is no dream.”
In 1948 that dream became a reality – a homeland in Israel, the promised land.
Working together Israelis turned a desert into an oasis.
An island of democracy surrounded by a sea of autocracy.
A Jewish state where Jews could live in peace free from fear and persecution.
Let there be no doubt. Israel is the ancient and indigenous homeland of the Jewish people.
We will not let the butchers of Hamas take that dream, long realized, away from us.
Many politicians will stand with Israel when it is easy.
But listen to what they say when it is hard.
They will talk about “both sides.”
I’m here to tell you that there is only one side.
The side of morality.
The side of democracy.
The side of Israel.
We see too often politicians at the United Nations unfairly singling out Israel for criticism.
I will always stand against the unfair singling out of the Middle East’s only democracy.
Already there are calls for Israel to deescalate.
I ask you.
Would any country deescalate after having its people slaughtered in cold blood?
I wish the people of Israel and its brave soldiers Godspeed on their mission to defend the promised land from pure evil.
As Prime Minister Stephen Harper said:
Through fire and water Canada will stand with you.
Am Yisrael Chai!

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