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Andrew Swan, MLA Minto
February 25, 2016

West End Safe Space

Mr. Speaker, there's nothing more important than the safety and well-being of our children. While in general our children have never been safer and more children than ever are now graduating from high school, we know there is more work to be done to help our most vulnerable youth.

Kim Bouvette is a West End mother who recognized the need for extended hours for programming in a safe space for youth who are vulnerable to the risks of drugs, gangs and sexual exploitation. Kim took action and raised her voice. She went door to door petitioning for the project. She mobilized the board members, staff and volunteers at the Spence Neighbourhood Association, and the SNA held numerous public forums and information meetings with West End residents to gauge the support within the community for Kim's vision.

The SNA then embarked upon an ambitious fundraising campaign. They staged a benefit concert at the West End Cultural Centre and organized a pancake breakfast. SNA volunteers handed out free coffee and muffins to drivers at the corner of Ellice and Maryland, handing out pamphlets about their fundraiser. Their efforts paid off. In total the SNA raised $35,000 so far, exceeding their goal.

Kim and the SNA found a willing partner in our NDP government. Building on our successful investments in Rossbrook House and with Ndinawe, we've committed $380,000 over the next three years to help the West End safe space become a reality. The money will support staff so the space can remain open all night when children are most at risk. The community and SNA will determine the best way to attract, assist and support youth in need of a safe place to go.

I urge all Manitobans to volunteer their time or donate to the Spence Neighbourhood Association through their GoFundMe site to help this amazing project.

Congratulations and well done to Kim Bouvette, SNA Executive Director Jamil Mahmood and all of the staff, board and volunteers. Your work exemplifies the caring spirit of Manitoba and the support of an NDP government that believes everyone matters, can do great things.

Thank you.