By BERNIE BELLAN The latest census data shows that the Jewish population in Winnipeg is now far more spread out than used to be the case years ago, when the vast majority of the Jewish population was divided between the north and south ends of the city.
Now, according to information that was released in November 2022 by statcan, Jews can be found in almost all areas of the city.
We’ve been analyzing data from the 2021 census ever since statcan released a trove of data about the ethnic and religious composition of Canada in November.
The 2021 census is the most accurate census we’ve had in Canada since the National Household Survey in 2011. In our November 23rd issue we showed how the Jewish population of Winnipeg could not be more than 14,270 and was very likely much smaller than that. What we did is take the number of respondents to the 2021 census who said that one of their ethnic origins was “Jewish”, and compared that with the number who said their religion was “Jewish.”
As we noted then, the number of respondents who said their religion was “Jewish” was 11,170, while the number that gave at least one of their ethnic origins as “Jewish” was 10,700. It might be complicated to understand, but we showed that, while many of the individuals gave one of their ethnic origins as “Jewish,” they also reported a different religion than “Jewish.” As a result, we concluded, the maximum possible number of individuals in Winnipeg who could be Jewish was 14,270 – although we also showed that the true number was likely much smaller than that.
Following our initial foray into an analysis of the 2021 census we kept up a correspondence with a statistician from statcan (which is now the name for what was formerly Statistics Canada), asking whether it would be possible to produce figures for where Jews live in Winnipeg. Subsequently, we were sent a table that listed Jewish population according to religion within the many census tracts in Winnipeg, also a map showing census tracts in the city.
By cross-referencing the table that was sent to us with the map that was also sent we were able to produce our own set of figures showing where Jews live in the city. Some of the figures that resulted might come as a great surprise to readers, including the huge drop in the Jewish population of West Kildonan (down to 205) and the very substantial increase in the number of Jews that live east of the Red River. (There are now almost as many Jews in East Kildonan – 175, as West Kildonan! And, when you add in Jews living in other parts of the city east of the Red River, you realize that approximately 10% of the Jewish population in Winnipeg now lives east of the Red River.)
We were also surprised to learn that Tuxedo has almost overtaken River Heights as the area with the largest concentration of Jewish population in Winnipeg, with the area known as Crescentwood coming in third.
In producing our own map and corresponding table we were able to show how areas in the extreme south end of the city, including south St. Vital and Bridgewater, have become home to very large Jewish populations. (That map can be seen on our website: jewishpostandnews.ca.)
In fact though, our Jewish population is now so spread out in so many different areas of the city that it would be difficult to say, as had been the case for many years, that our Jewish population is concentrated in the “south end” of the city. Traditionally, when we thought of the “south end,” we tended to think of River Heights and Tuxedo, also – in more recent times, Lindenwoods and Whyte Ridge.
As it turns out, however, there are now Jewish populations in suburban areas in almost all parts of the city, also a fairly large concentration in Wolseley and what is referred to as the West End, both of which are much closer to the centre of Winnipeg.
The continued decline in the number of Jews living in what was the traditional “North End” would probably come as no surprise to most readers, but the fact that there are now only 80 Jews living south of Smithfield, all the way to the CPR tracks, is but one more indication how much Jews have abandoned the traditional North End.
We’re not quite sure why, but the statcan list of census tracts for Winnipeg also included areas that would never be considered part of Winnipeg, such as St. Francois Xavier, Taché, Birds Hill, Lorette, East of Hwy. 59, and St. Clement. We’ve included them here because they form part of the total of 11,165 respondents who declared “Jewish” as their religion in the 2021 census and were considered part of Winnipeg (for some reason) by statcan.
There were also two census tracts that we were unable to identify on the map. They had a total of 20 Jewish residents. We’ve been somewhat arbitrary in identifying certain areas, such as south Fort Garry – not knowing which area would be considered south Ft. Garry and which, north Ft. Garry. The same applies for St. Vital. We’ve also given names to various neighbourhoods where possible, but that was simply not possible in many cases. Tuxedo, for instance, is identified as one census tract on the statcan map, while River Heights is made up of five different census tracts. As a result we were able to distinguish north River Heights (north of Corydon) from south River Heights.
Here then is a list of all areas of the city that have any number of Jewish residents, in order from largest to smallest:
River Heights (south of Corydon) 1460
River Heights (north of Corydon) 530
Total River Heights 1990
Crescentwood (including Wellington Crescent
& area west of Osborne) 735
Garden City 560
Fort Rouge 410
South Ft. Garry (not including Bridgewater) 360
South St. Vital 355
Whyte Ridge 335
Fort Garry (not including Bridgewater or south Ft. Garry) 225
West Kildonan 205
East Kildonan 175
St. Vital (not including south St. Vital) 170
The Maples 165
St. Boniface 110
North Kildonan 100
Sage Creek 95
West End (west of Balmoral, north of Portage, east of Polo Park) 85
North End (south of Smithfield, to the CPR tracks) 80
Osborne Village (east of Osborne) 70
Downtown (Portage south to the river)) 60
Island Lakes 60
East St. Paul 45
St. James 45
East of Hwy. 59 45
Birds Hill 40
Silver Heights 35
Downtown (east of Balmoral, west of
Main Street, north of Portage, south of Ellice) 25
North-west (between Mollard Road and Selkirk Ave.) 25
Exchange district 25
St. Francois Xavier 20
West St. Paul 15
St. Clement 15
Pritchard Farm 10
Armstrong’s Point 10
Schmoozer’s now under management of Shaarey Zedek Catering
By BERNIE BELLAN Schmoozer’s restaurant at the Asper Campus is now under the management of the Shaarey Zedek catering department.
Apparently, according to Curtis Martin, Executive Director of the Asper Jewish Community Campus, the Shaarey Zedek has actually been operating Schmoozer’s since December 1, except for the time it was closed over the winter break.
The Shaarey Zedek officially took over Schmoozer’s as of Monday, January 8. Shaarey Zedek Catering has actually been located in the Schmoozer’s kitchen for some time now – since the Shaarey Zedek closed for renovations in the summer of 2022.
While Shaarey Zedek Executive Chef Joel Lafond is continuing to work at the Asper Campus location, the day to day management of Schmoozer’s is in the hands of Sous Chef Jennifer Middleton. Once the Shaarey Zedek’s renovations are complete, Lafond will move back there, while Middleton will remain at the campus. In addition to managing Schmoozer’s, Curtis Martin says that Middleton will also to continue to provide catering services for “on-site Campus agencies and events.”
One of the main differences now that Shaarey Zedek is operating Schmoozer’s is the expanded hours. Rather than opening at 10 am, which was when Schmoozer’s opened under its previous management, Schmoozer’s will now be open at 8 am, Monday – Friday. It will also be open until 6 pm Monday- Thursday, and until 3 pm on Fridays.
According to Joel Lafond, plans are to have Schmoozer’s open on Sundays as well, beginning in February.
As for the menu, it now features a number of breakfast items, such as bagels and breakfast platters, in addition to the usual lunch items, such as tuna salad, egg salad, grilled cheese, quinoa bowl, pizza, a variety of salads, soup, fries, pasta, and “Beyond Burgers.”
Lafond said that plans are also in the works to expand the menu. He mentioned falafel as an example of something new that will be available at Schmoozer’s in the not too distant future.
While it’s nice to see Schmoozer’s the fact that there have been so many different managers of that particular facility speaks to the difficulty inherent in trying to offer kosher food without running into huge financial problems.
I’m not privy to the financial exigencies that Schmoozer’s has faced over the years – ever since it first opened under the operation of Omnitsky’s – then run by Eppy Rappaport, in 1997. At first, just like everything else associated with the Campus in its early years, Schmoozer’s was teeming with customers. Eventually though, Eppy Rappaport moved to Vancouver. I don’t recall every single manager of Schmoozer’s since, but I know that Barb and Lisa Reiss managed it for quite some time, as did Maxine Shuster – for a very long time, until it was placed under the management of Beth Jacob in 2021.
I certainly wish Joel Lafond and Jennifer Middleton of Shaarey Zedek Catering well, but I’m sure they’re aware how difficult a challenge operating Schmoozer’s in the black presents.
At the same time we haven’t had a really good kosher restaurant in Winnipeg for years, not since the closing of Desserts Plus, maybe Bermax Caffé as well.
You can still eat kosher food at the Gwen Secter Centre, also the Garden Café in the Simkin Centre, but neither of them is the kind of place where you can simply drop in and enjoy a kosher meal (although the Garden Café is open for lunch Monday to Friday).
Is the high cost of kosher food affecting the quality of food served at the Simkin Centre?
By BERNIE BELLAN From time to time I lead a discussion group at the Simkin Centre with residents there. It was when I was doing that recently that I was told something by one of the residents that quite shocked me. We were talking about the food at the Simkin Centre and I asked the residents how they liked it?
I asked residents how often they get served chicken and I was told “We get chicken, but only dark meat.” According to that resident all that the Simkin Centre serves residents are thighs and drumsticks.
I asked Simkin Centre CEO Laurie Cerqueti about that and she said she’d have to get back to me after checking with the food services manager. I also asked Laurie what the daily allowance is on a per capita basis for all meals? (By way of comparison, when I did a story about kosher food in 2018 I reported that daily allowance for Simkin Centre residents – for 3 meals, snacks, and special dietary needs, was only $8.75 per day per resident.)
Here’s what Laurie wrote back to me, in response to my question: : “The last official number I have for food is from the 21/22 fiscal year and it was $9.64 per day. I know for this year as of the end of October we are over budget on food by $150,000. We must continue to fund any costs on food from our existing annual budget or through fundraised dollars. We have not had any increases from government for any operational expenses in 15 years.”
Insofar as the issue of residents being served only dark meat from chickens was concerned, in a subsequent email I received from Laurie she wrote that white chicken meat is used in chicken schnitzel served to residents.
I know I’m beating my head against the wall when I suggest that the Simkin Centre ought to allow nonkosher food to be served. When I last checked with Laurie Cerqueti, 60% of the residents at Simkin weren’t even Jewish. As for the Jewish residents, for those who would want kosher food, it could be brought in from the Gwen Secter Centre. (By the way, that idea isn’t mine. It comes from a former CEO of the Simkin Centre who also thought it was ridiculous enforcing kashrut rules at Simkin when it mattered to only a tiny fraction of its total residents.)
For that matter, residents are already allowed to bring nonkosher food into the facility, but it has to be eaten either in their rooms or in the family visiting room, so the precedent is there – it’s only a matter of taking it to the next logical level.
But I know: Kashrut is a sacrosanct element of the Simkin Centre, isn’t it? So, even if the Simkin Centre is running a huge budget deficit on food –and that money must be taken out of other operations, it’s absolutely fundamental to the Simkin Centre that it continue to serve only kosher food – even if that means residents only get white chicken meat when it’s served in schnitzel.
Winnipegger Shayna Wiwierski building up large following as beauty and lifestyle influencer
By MYRON LOVE “Growing up [in River Heights], I was always a girlie girl,” recalls social influencer Shayna Wiwierski. “I loved dressing up and doing my hair, and reading lifestyle and glamour magazines.”
In my experience, childhood interests are a good indicator of adult careers. In Wiwierski’s case, she has parlayed that passion for style and beauty into a position as a social influencer through her online blog, “A Pop of Colour.”
The daughter of Susan Engel-Wiwierski and the late David Wiwierski established A Pop of Colour in 201. Currently she has approximately 30,000 followers on Facebook and Instagram, and another 4,000 on TikTok.
Scrolling through Wiwierski’s Instagram, you will find photos and videos from her most recent vacations, her bridal shower (she is getting married in the summer of 2024), and regular daily leisure activities accompanied by beautiful photography and partnerships with various companies.
“When I started my blog, I was only offering beauty tips,” she recalls. “I have since added content focusing on lifestyle, travel, and fitness.”
In an interview she did with CTV five years ago, Wiwierski noted that, in the beginning, the costs for the beauty products that she promoted through her blog she paid for herself. Over the years though, she, as with sister social influencers, have established working relationships with companies which send her products to promote on her various social accounts.
Wiwierski points out that to be a successful social influencer requires a lot of time for setting up photo shoots, editing and posting of content, as well as monitoring the likes, comments, and overall feedback on the posts.
“I know a lot of people think social media is a super easy job to do, but it really does take a lot of time,” says Wiwierski. “From creating the content, planning the posts, and then seeing what does well and what doesn’t, there is a lot of time and effort involved if you want to be successful at it.”
Content creation isn’t Wiwierski’s full-time job. She says it’s her “5 to 9 after her 9 to 5”, as she is also the editorial director at DEL Communications Inc., a Winnipeg-based trade publication company. The company is a publisher of mostly annual industry and association magazines covering topics in a variety of niche industries.
“Although in high school [Grant Park High School], I originally wanted to be on TV, after I graduated from university in 2010, I had the opportunity to join DEL and I’ve been there ever since,” she says, adding that she has a Bachelor of Communications and Rhetoric from the University of Winnipeg and a diploma in Creative Communications from Red River Polytechnic (formerly Red River College).
For the past few years, Wiwierski has been dividing her time between Winnipeg and Montreal. She met her fiancée – who is originally from Ontario – when he was doing his residency in Winnipeg.
“Montreal is a great city,” she says. “People always ask me which one I love living in more, but I really do love both; they’re so different.”