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  • Hannah Scott-Talib

Wakefield community centre group advocates for ‘compassion’

If the Wakefield community centre was a two-legged stool – something not very stable – then a new group formed to help the centre with its management is the third leg — or at least that’s how the collection of over 40 volunteers sees itself.

“We’re kind of like a three-legged stool,” explained Karen Bays, core member of the Membership Involvement Group for Our Centre Wakefield La Pêche (MING). She said that the group aims to bring increased stability to the Centre Wakefield La Pêche, which has suffered recently from mismanagement issues.

MING, a citizen-managed involvement committee, was formed in late January by Bays and others in an effort to ensure the Centre Wakefield La Pêche runs smoothly over the coming years.

Continuing the analogy of the three-legged stool, Bays said she sees the seat representing the community, while each of the three legs supporting the seat represent the board, the group’s membership and the human resource staff that help run the building.

Bays stated that the purpose of this group is not only to aid in the management of the centre as a whole, but equally to help community members understand how the centre’s cooperative management system functions. She added that MING is prepared to work with the centre’s board, rather than against it.

“We made it clear to the board that we are there to be constructive,” confirmed Bays. She expresses that the group wants to help create a healthy, thriving community centre alongside the current board members, and that there was no malicious intent behind the creation of this separate group.

The membership involvement group has been hosting meetings and discussion circles to share ideas about how to make the community centre a better place. According to Bays, the success of the building relies on “shared ownership, compassion, energy.”

Group member Linda Vanderlee says she’s hopeful that MING will have a positive impact on the Wakefield community, considering that word of the group’s existence is already starting to spread.

“Everybody in MING is talking to other people, and that’s spreading the information and the energy,” she said.

Both Bays and Vanderlee have previously pursued studies in the domain of recreation, and say they hope to be able to use their expertise to help with the centre’s management. Bays said she believes that, until recently, many of the centre’s co-op members have remained “silent members” due to a lack of understanding of the system’s regulations.

“It’s not going to be changed overnight with a new board or a new model of governance,” she remarked. “It’s a process.”

However, she said she’s optimistic that MING can help change that over time with the knowledge they will bring to the table.

“I think we’re building trust and we’re making headway, and it’s encouraging,” said Bays.

Recently, two representatives of MING were invited by the centre’s board to join the “tiger team” — a smaller group consisting of community centre staff and board members that host weekly meetings to discuss troubleshooting, as well as building communication and cooperation between everyone involved in the centre’s management.

Ultimately, Bays and Vanderlee both agree that MING’s biggest purpose is to advocate for compassion when it comes to running the community centre. They expressed that they believe a lack of compassion is primarily what caused management to fall short in the past, but that by working together with the board members, this can change in upcoming years.

All of MING’s meetings are open for anyone to attend. To find out more about the centre's current and future plans, residents can attend the upcoming information meeting planned for Tuesday, June 20 at 7pm. Details for the meeting can be found on the website


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