Newly launched Kookum’s House is bringing the atmosphere of a grandma’s house to families in the North End of Winnipeg.
Kookum means grandmother in Cree. Kookum’s House (aka Granny’s House) is literally a house in the North End of Winnipeg that will provide a place for parents to drop their kids off when they need some support or a bit of time to themselves, whether this be due to stress, illness, or if they just need to get some errands done.
Many families include multiple children, and it can be very difficult to do things like grocery shopping or appointments when you have several kids in tow. The idea is that Kookum’s House will have the feel of dropping your children off at your kookum’s house for the afternoon – a place that is safe, warm, and comfortable.
The ultimate goal behind providing this program is to support families in a community-centred way, in order to work towards a larger outcome of helping to reduce the number of children who are coming into the care of Child and Family Services (CFS).
There are potentially a number of families who might be able to avoid getting involved with the CFS system if they were provided appropriate resources when they’re needed most. We hope that Granny’s House can be that to the community – a place to find some trusted care and support in a setting that is culturally safe and family-centred.
Kookum’s House is an initiative led by Gwekaanimad – a collaborative that includes several organizations based in the North End including: Andrews Street Family Centre, Blue Thunderbird Family Care, Mount Carmel Clinic, Wahbung Abinoonjiiag, and The Winnipeg Boldness Project. The house itself will be run by Blue Thunderbird Family Care, and Gwekaanimad—an Ojibwe word meaning “the wind changes directions”— will provide referrals, promote the initiative, and provide guidance and support throughout this process.
The program is also a huge commitment from the Manitoba Government to help support the innovative family resource.
The hope is that this pilot program will provide evidence that more resources such as this need to exist, and that community-led, preventative supports are necessary to increase family togetherness in the North End.
If you want to learn more about Kookum’s House, listen to The Winnipeg Boldness project director, Diane Roussin, talk about what it is and how it works on CBC Radio.
Diane Roussin is a member of the SI Canada Stewardship Group and actively supports the Manitoba region’s social innovation community.