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People in Winnipeg

A group of Tec Voc High School students can already add a rare achievement to their curriculum vitae: published authors.

People in Winnipeg was created by students in teacher Jeffery Lomas's Global Issues class.

Mr. Lomas sent his students out with students from Tec Voc's photography program to capture the faces and stories of the city. The results were as diverse as Winnipeg itself—from  newcomer Canadians to longtime residents. The subjects share memories, ambitions, regrets, and philosophies ("You need to make yourself happy before you make others happy," says a busker at The Forks).

Students in Tec Voc's Graphic Arts program organized and designed the quotes and photographs into what became the published book.

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"I was inspired by Brandon Stanton's Humans of New York," Mr. Lomas said. "My wife bought the book for me for Christmas one year…I picked the book up, and four hours later I was still enthralled."

Since part of the Global Issues program includes a community action project, the teacher thought the book project would be a creative way to give back to society. Proceeds from the book's sales are going to the North End Women's Centre, the Community Education Development Association's Pathways to Education program, the Never Alone Foundation and Welcome Place.

The project was also a chance for students to break down stereotypes and get in touch with Winnipeg's diverse population.

"It was a way to have students go out of their comfort zone and talk to the everyday people that make up our city," Mr. Lomas said.

Student Madison McKay said she was initially nervous about the assignment of interviewing people in Winnipeg's Exchange District.

"I'm a very shy person, so it was intimidating," she said. "But after a while, after you start talking to people, it gets easier. It helped me as a person. I feel like I can have normal conversations with people now."

Among the people Madison interviewed was a former Torontonian who moved to Winnipeg to live with his fiancé. He was photographed while waiting outside Red River College.

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"He was really kind, and he asked me questions as well, so it wasn't one-sided," Madison said. "And it wasn't awkward at all."

Overall, Madison felt the book project was worthwhile on many levels.

"It was a good experience. I felt like I got to know Winnipeg more…I hadn't walked around that area before, so it was interesting to see and meet some of the people there."

People in Winnipeg is on sale at McNally Robinson, as well as Tec Voc's Hornet Café. Copies can be purchased online here.

"It's a great coffee table book, whether you are in a dentist's office or someone's living room," Mr. Lomas said, before adding: "And it makes a great gift!"

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