'A community made of great people': March shows off positive side of Spence neighbourhood

In an area that frequently grabs headlines for violence and crime, residents gathered to tell a different story about their neighbourhood Wednesday evening.

About 150 people took part in annual March for Peace in Winnipeg neighbourhood Wednesday

About 150 people took part in the Communities March for Peace Wednesday evening in Winnipeg's Spence neighbourhood. (Laura Glowacki/CBC)

In an area that frequently grabs headlines for violence and crime, residents gathered to tell a different story about their Winnipeg neighbourhood Wednesday evening.

About 150 people participated in the seventh annual Communities March for Peace in the Spence neighbourhood, organizers say.

The annual walk sees two marches wind their way through downtown neighbourhoods to meet at the Magnus Eliason Recreation Centre on Langside Street for a free barbecue dinner and concert.

Participants held bright, hand-painted signs decrying hate and violence and calling for peace and tolerance.

"We rally together to stand for safe communities for all," said march organizer Mareike Brunelli. She works as a co-ordinator with the Spence Neighbourhood Association, where she helps run recreational programming for adults and improve safety for youth.

March for Peace organizer Mareike Brunelli said the event is important way to show a positive side of the Spence neighbourhood. (Laura Glowacki/CBC)

Brunelli said while the Spence area may have a bad reputation, there is a tremendous amount of good happening in the area — the creation of a 24/7 safe space for youths launched last year, for example.

"It's a community made of great people that believe in great values of community, of unity, of solidarity and of safety," she said.

Coun. Cindy Gilroy, who represents Daniel McIntyre on city council, said she has attended the annual event for years.

The March for Peace helps embolden people to speak out against violence, she said, who otherwise might be too intimidated to lend their voices to the cause.

"This is about a positive experience. This is about a community coming together, taking ownership and saying, 'We want a peaceful community,'" she said.

Last year at the march, the Spence Neighborhood Association unveiled its community safety charter. The document took years to put together and offers a vision for ways the area could look and feel more safe based on consultations with residents.

Recommendations include providing more opportunities for neighbours to meet each other and better access to information about support services in the area.

Brunelli said the association is in the final months of completing an information brochure and toolkits aimed at local businesses, agencies and individuals she hopes will help put the charter's vision into reality.

Residents take part in the seventh annual March for Peace in the Spence neighbourhood on Wednesday. (CBC)

About the Author

Laura Glowacki is a reporter based in Winnipeg. Before moving to Manitoba in 2015, she worked as an associate producer for CBC's Metro Morning in Toronto. Find her on Twitter @glowackiCBC and reach her by email at