One year later, 40 Winnipeggers have told a stranger their stories of abuse, loss, homelessness

A Winnipeg man on a year-long mission to meet strangers says the human race would be in better shape if we were all less opinionated. Carl Seier has published the stories of 40 strangers on his Facebook page, The Stranger Connection Winnipeg.

Carl Seier started Stranger Connection after city named Canada's most racist

Carl Seier started his Facebook project, The Stranger Connection Winnipeg, just over a year ago. (Carl Seier)

A Winnipeg man on a year-long mission to meet strangers says the human race would be in better shape if we were all less opinionated.

"Why can't we just learn more about the other's opinions and come to a compromise? We should try to find a balance on any issue or argument," said Carl Seier.

That's just one lesson the local real estate agent has learned making The Stranger Connection Winnipeg.The Facebook project recently marked its one-year anniversary.

Seier talked to strangers about their lives and then wrote profiles based on the conversations. He has posted 40 profiles in one year but says he's talked to hundreds of other people in the process.

Personal stories shared

Lindsay is one of the people Carl Seier has met during his Facebook project, The Stranger Connection Winnipeg. She told him about her husband's suicide. (Carl Seier)
Over the past 12 months, strangers have told him about their childhood sexual abuse, homelessness, drug and alcohol addictions, poverty and the deaths of their children, among other personal stories.

Seier met his subjects during the course of his daily life and would later sit down with people over coffee, a drink or a meal to talk. Some people used the time to vent about their exes — one subject Seier wouldn't write about.

He started the project after Maclean's magazine published an article naming Winnipeg Canada's most racist city.

After that, Seier began questioning his own biases toward Indigenous people, especially considering he didn't have anybody in his social circle with that heritage.

Over more than a year, Carl Seier has talked with hundreds of strangers like George, who told Seier about being part of the Sixties Scoop. (Carl Seier)
One story sticks out in his mind. It was about someone he never met — the 53-year-old woman found frozen to death on a downtown sidewalk in early December.

He said he felt compelled to write about her.

"It really affected me. No one should be dying alone on the street. I wanted to know who she was," said Seier.

The woman's family saw the post and ultimately reached out to thank him.

After more than a year, Seier doesn't know if he will continue the project or not.

"I don't have any plan. I will see what happens," he said.

There have been other national and international online projects and movements to connect strangers.

Humans of New York, a website and now book, started in 2010 as a street project by photographer Brandon Stanton. He hoped to document the lives of 10,000 ordinary people.

Stanton now has several books, and millions of followers on Facebook and Instagram.

People like Colin and Cheryl have shared very personal stories with Carl Seier as part of his Stranger Connection Winnipeg project. The couple told Seier about Cheryl's battle with cancer. (Carl Seier)