Sep 26, 2023

Toba Centre for Children & Youth Officially Opens with Support from Qualico

Winnipeg, MB – Toba Centre for Children & Youth officially opened the doors to its new facility in Assiniboine Park on Sept. 6, unveiling a much-needed wraparound child abuse response centre. Qualico contributed $500,000 towards developing the first-of-its-kind, made-in-Manitoba child advocacy centre of excellence and has also provided support through board member volunteer hours and interior design for the centre.

Toba Centre’s mission is to restore the health and well-being of those affected by child abuse through a child-centric, coordinated, community response. As a community-driven organization, Toba Centre relies on donations, in-kind support, and government funding to deliver a high standard of service to children and families in Manitoba.

David Eggerman, Regional Vice-President of Manitoba & Saskatchewan, joined Toba Centre’s board in January 2021, was chair of the building committee, and was recently nominated to chair the board for a one-year term. He also had the privilege of cutting the ribbon at the centre’s grand opening.

"When I understood the province's approach to supporting the victims of child abuse and their families and the future these children are likely to have without the support they need, I wanted to get involved, knowing that a community-based solution was getting underway," he said. "This new facility will give the Toba Centre the opportunity to change the future for every child who needs their support."

At Toba Centre’s previous location, community services related to child abuse operated in silos, creating delays and inefficiencies in the system and compounding stress and confusion for victims and their families. Without proper treatment and support, victims of child abuse are often at high risk as adults of homelessness, criminality, drug addiction, mental health issues, and abusing others.

All agency professionals – including police, child welfare, medical, Toba Centre staff and volunteers, and other support services – have been brought together in the new centre so that they can work with a more multidisciplinary, collaborative approach that results in effective, efficient, and child-centered casework.

Speaking at the opening event, Christy Dzikowicz, Executive Director of Toba Centre, spoke to the importance of community involvement and coordinated efforts when it comes to supporting child abuse victims.

Christy Dzikowicz to the left of Elder Betty Ross and David Eggerman third on her right
celebrate the grand opening of Toba Centre

“This centre is a testament to the power of community collaboration and the shared belief that every child deserves a chance to thrive,” she said. “We invite the community to continue to rally around children and families who have been hurt, as our real work has just begun. We are so grateful for the opportunity this new centre provides to change the story for those impacted by child abuse.”

An important aspect of the new centre is its child-friendly design – something that Qualico’s DesignQ business unit had a role in creating. Sheri Henkel-Moore, Design Director, DesignQ, said David approached the DesignQ team about being involved in the interior design of Toba Centre, which was an exciting project for project lead Nadine Francois, Design Consultant, DesignQ.

“Our role was to add the final touches, just to make it feel homier,” said Sheri. “We approached the design by thinking about it from a child’s perspective, through their eyes. What would put a smile on their face. We wanted to soften things up and add some fun colour to it.”

Nadine said she wanted to achieve an inviting atmosphere in the family rooms, interview rooms, staff meeting rooms, and staff patio at the centre. Where children would spend time, she considered factors like safety and ease of cleaning when it came to textiles, furniture, and art – whether it be rounded corners on tables, machine-washable fabrics, or shatter-proof acrylic instead of glass for framed art.

“I felt good about contributing to a facility that supports such important work,” she said. “I could use my skills to consider what would make a difference to the people visiting the space and the people who work there every day. It makes a difference to work somewhere that has been designed to succeed in helping people. If I helped in a small way to do that, then that feels good.”

By supporting the new child-centric facility that will offer important wraparound care, David said Qualico is continuing to give back to the community and invest in a better tomorrow for all Manitobans. 

"Kids are resilient, and I have heard a few young adults speak on their experiences and what this type of care means for them," he said. "I am proud to have been able to support a project like this one. It aligns with Qualico's commitment to Help Build Better Cities and will allow children and their families to progress on the path of healing."

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