Two close friends are moving away. Aside from the same general direction (west) their situations are completely different. It’s an unfortunate reality of Winnipeg that friends and family leave all the time. Often the reason is for greater opportunity, whether its real or imagined. Sometimes it’s a change of scene. Every time someone I know moves away, I get that sense of not wanting to be left behind. And I second guess my reasons for staying. Every Winnipegger must have experienced this crisis. It’s a fundamental part of our identity as anything else. I don’t know anyone that hasn’t seriously thought about moving and/or has tried living somewhere else. In our city there is an ever present sense that there is something more. Something different, better, bigger, somewhere else. Maybe this is a human thing and it happens everywhere, but staying is as much of a decision as leaving is. People ask “Are you going to stay in Winnipeg?” the same way they ask “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with the expectation that it’s an inevitable decision. Do people do that in Vancouver or Toronto? Torontonians are always vaguely aware of other cities, but in a way where they haven’t thought about it much. They know they have everything so what does somewhere else have to offer? Winnipeg so often seems like a stop on the road to somewhere else. A great place to come from, but always a place to leave behind.
This stepping stone aspect of Winnipeg seems to make it have a long reach for somewhere so small. I’ve heard stories of people traveling all over the world; Australia, Asia, Europe and almost inevitably, you bump into someone that has lived in Winnipeg. Every away Jets game has a healthy number of Jets jerseys and an obnoxiously loud TRUE NORTH shout in the national anthem. Sometimes even in games where the Jets aren’t playing. And the great thing is that all the expats from Winnipeg have a soft spot for it. We get shout outs all the time in pop culture, from actors who have filmed here, professional athletes, all kinds of people in every field. Even though we can’t be all things to all people, our people are all things. They expand our community so that across the world, no matter where you are, you can be sure you aren’t the only Winipegger living there.