Project Concept

Reweaving Support is a big-picture systems change project using intersectional gender-based analysis or GBA+ to re-imagine the Manitoba social safety net in five areas: Child and Family Services (CFS), Early Learning and Childcare (ELCC), income security, housing security, as well as addressing gender-based violence (GBV).

Reweaving Support sees these areas as a system of systems that are now inadequate in meeting the needs of Manitobans vulnerable to poverty, homelessness, violence and abuse, including child apprehension, and lack social support and lack of housing security. The project engages community and other stakeholders in re-imagining these systems based on research evidence, and lived experience of system users and system navigators utilizing community development and social justice principles in collaboration for systems change.

Movement weaving

The Reweaving Support project reweaves not only the social safety net but also  a network of organizations into a movement. Strong collaborative movements, not just individuals or even individual organizations, are required to change systems. The big idea is - we can’t keep doing what we have always done and expect a new or different result.

We need collaboration for systems change, and the Reweaving Support project builds the capacity in Manitoba to build a powerful shared vision for our social safety net and build multi-stakeholder and public support for this new vision.


   Power of a Shared Vision




Key Definitions


Systems change

Is more than a new program or policy. It is about understanding and transforming structural violence and barriers in systems that perpetuate harm. It is about addressing power dynamics and oppression in systems by connecting peoples’ lived experience with public policy and programs development. The Reweaving Support Project will use tools like the Change Matrix developed by social innovator and capacity builder Marianne Cerilli, to map the existing system and the plan for a renewed social safety net in each of the five areas of the project.


Trauma informed

Studies show that the long term effects of child abuse and neglect are the root causes of addictions, poverty, crime, and repeated patterns of abuse. Research as well as various modalities and traditional knowledge from Indigenous cultures also have tried and true ways to heal people, families and communities as well as systems. A trauma informed approach to the social safety net will incorporate compassion and understanding about what causes and heals trauma in social services and organizations delivering those services.



Community Development Lens

Many community organizations and public institutions recognize the difference between community development and charity. It is time that our social safety net embodies this understanding with new models for social services that empower people and families, that encourage self-determination and offer supports that transform lives. The principles of community development can be applied to public social services. This is not pulling yourself up by your boot-straps, it is giving support in a way that supports health and well-being, lifelong learning, agency,  empowerment and equity.


Collaborative Governance

Most governments now have offices of community or public engagement and they consult with residents and agencies. Now it is time to move up the ladder of community engagement from consultation to collaboration! Governments invest millions of dollars in community services agencies with years of experience, expertise, evidence and ideas to contribute. It is time for a return on that investment through new collaborative partnerships between community members, organizations and government. Reweaving Support first improves solidarity and collaboration in the community, then brings community to the table with government in new collaborative planning, and decision-making partnerships.


GBA+ participatory          budgets

We will not be able to address the wait lists for childcare, income supports, public housing, violence, family, and mental health supports for children without improved public investment. Research shows that prevention of poverty and inequity will save funds in expensive interventions in acute health care, justice and corrections, CFS, etc. Good work was done to incorporate gender, equity and diversity into the Manitoba budget in the early 2000s - it is time to revisit and implement this approach.


Climate Smart and            COVID Recovery

The new reality we live in has put tremendous strain on our social services requiring us to reimagine the social safety net. Climate impacts like drought, heat waves, as well as COVID have affected supply chains, housing and food prices, job availability - increasing demands on parents and other family members. It can feel like a permanent state of crisis and instability, or a new trauma of unattainable expectations. Together we must not react, but respond. As a province, we can adapt, intentionally choosing how to respond to the situations we share and experience today. Some of the change need not be accepted, but resisted and countered. We now know that the COVID pandemic deepened inequities, leaving people in unsafe living situations even worse off. Gender-based violence and abuse peaked during the pandemic health lockdowns, which is now known as the shadow pandemic. When the health orders were first introduced as temporary for a few weeks, professionals working in gender based violence and abuse knew there would be more risk and harm. We did not expect the long duration of the lockdowns, and we are still seeing the dangerous impacts. This is not to say the decisions for the lockdowns were not good decisions, but to highlight the real impacts and consequences of the pandemic time that call for strengthened service systems to support Manitobans in recovering from the heightened time of the pandemic.

Social Determinants of Health

Research compiled in the book the Spirit Level – Why Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better by Richard G.Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, makes the case for the approach and the focus of projects like Reweaving Support to ensure we invest in the environmental factors that determine our health. Poverty, inequity and abuse are determinants of health that have been getting worse. And while it is difficult to shift large systems like our medical system that focuses on intervening instead of preventing, that shift is exactly what we need for healthy communities. It is the social safety net that provides protection from harmful determinants of our health, and while this project does not focus on shifting the investment in health care, it does attempt to blunt the impacts of those adverse determinants of health.


Enough For All Forever

Is a guiding phrase in community economic development, for a sustainable Manitoba where everyone has their basic needs met. The problem is not inadequate resources in Manitoba, we have the resources to ensure that everyone has their basic needs met. The problem is that resources are not distributed in a way that is just and fair. For too long we have subscribed to a top down instead of bottom-up approach to economic development and government finance. There are many innovative approaches that can be incorporated into our social safety net systems and programs that will improve equity and environmental health and our human health in the long term.