There is no denying it, Winnipeg is a different city then it was 15 years ago and I don’t mean physically or financially. The energy level in the Peg is at an all time high. At least the highest I can ever recall seeing it in my 29 years, and as far back as my father can remember as well.
This is not the same city that failed to build a new arena to save the Jets in the 90′s. This is not the same attitude that decided it was best to demolish the old arena, instead of making it a tourist attraction and building Canada’s largest water-park. Back then, that wasn’t what Winnipeg was about.
Winnipeg used to be a city that, for lack of a better description, enjoyed being left off the map despite being the largest city near the geographical center of North America. It was fine letting Calgary and Vancouver and Edmonton lure some of their citizens west and it was fine letting Toronto control the east. It was a city that was in an uproar when the Provencher bridge was built because of a hundred and one reasons, but I suspect that to most it was because it was an attention grabber.
Peg City life has always been about the status-quo. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And there’s nothing really wrong with that mentality, but if an entire city has that motto, you can’t expect growth and change. Well since the Jets left back in 1996 this city has found a way to force change upon themselves and now find them not only back on the map, but right smack dab in the middle of everyone’s radar.
Sure the Jets coming back is a large part of that excitement, but we can’t forget about what the other sports teams in town have done. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have started off on fire this season and the entire city now has a little swagger in their steps – not just the men in Blue and Gold. It’s an attitude I could feel when I was back in Winnipeg last week preparing for our WhiteOut Road Trip and the filming of our Jets fan documentary Jet Fuel.
Walking downtown on a Tuesday afternoon I could feel the excitement and energy all around me. It was the pride I felt from the people who still call Winnipeg home. In 2010 we learnt as a nation that being proud of where you are from and being passionate about it was not a bad thing. My biggest fear was after the Olympics were over we’d go back to our polite Canadian ways and stop showing how proud we are to be Canadians.
The verdict nationally is still up in the air, but there is no doubting that those who live in the Peg and those of us that have relocated elsewhere are showing the world just how proud we are to be from Winnipeg. Hopefully gone are the days of people asking us only about mosquitoes, bad drivers and winter.
The perception others have of Winnipeg was a reflection of our own attitudes. I sense a change in that and the world will take notice. Swaggerville might have been started by a few players in Blue and Gold, but it’s an attitude the whole city is starting to adopt and I for one think it’s about time we stand up and be proud of where we are from.
It’s an exciting time to be in Winnipeg. Not a day goes by that I’m not talking to someone about Winnipeg and that’s something I can say I haven’t done until very recently.