Winnipeg chapter activist Mary Robinson speaks against the Energy East pipeline at the Bell Tower.
Council of Canadians activists from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories took part in the ‘Meet Me at the Bell Tower’ gathering this evening in Winnipeg. Chapter activists, Board members and staff are here this weekend for an annual regional meeting.
CBC has reported, “Meet Me at the Bell Tower is a weekly event that aims to make the North End, which has been known for poverty, crime and violence, a better and safer place to live. Every Friday night, people of all ages — including a growing number of young people — gather at the bell tower on Selkirk Avenue and Powers Street to discuss neighbourhood issues and figure out ways to combat crime in the area.”
That article noted, “Meet Me at the Bell Tower was triggered in part by the stabbing death of Clark Stevenson, a 15-year-old boy who was attacked in the North End. Stevenson was stabbed on Sept. 10, 2011, when he and a friend were confronted by a group of males and a fight broke out. He died in hospital days later. Winnipeg police have said they believe the attack on Stevenson was gang-related. [Meet Me at the Bell Tower organizer Michael] Champagne said he and other people in the North End were tired of seeing so many crime scenes in the area.”
Group shot of chapters at the Bell Tower
Champagne, who is originally from the Shamattawa Cree Nation in northern Manitoba, says, “[Meet Me at the Bell Tower has] become more of a community celebration. It’s still in a rally format, and our overall focus is usually in response to violent incidents, but we really try to build in activities so we can get to know each other. We give away prizes every week, so we’re sharing. And it’s an opportunity for even the most disenfranchised individuals to feel like they’re contributing to make the community safer.”
This evening speakers talked about protecting the land and water, the threat the proposed Energy East pipeline poses, the tragic reality of murdered and missing Indigenous women, the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, truth and reconciliation, the need to end all forms of violence, and much more.
The bell itself has a history of being a tool to warn the community about danger. The bell’s original purpose was the city’s fire bell from 1877 to 1903. It was installed in the Market Building behind the original City Hall. When that building was demolished in 1961 the bell went into storage. In 1985, as part of a revitalization project, it was installed where it is now on Selkirk Avenue.
To learn more about Meet Me at the Bell Tower, check out their Facebook page here and search Twitter using #BellTowerFamily.