Students share solutions for an equitable city at the Museum

How can urban planning create connection, equity and sustainability?

The City of Winnipeg took an unconventional approach to answering that question, turning to local students and a popular video game for help.

In partnership with Microsoft Canada, they created a challenge called “Level Up Winnipeg.” The challenge invites students to get invested in improving their communities by leveraging interest in the beloved video game Minecraft.

In Minecraft, players collect resources in the form of blocks, stacking them to create impressive and complex “builds.” Users have created everything from Van Gogh’s Starry Night to a replica of the Titanic inside the game.

And now, Winnipeg’s downtown is replicated there too.

Students began the Level Up challenge by exploring the build of Winnipeg’s current downtown to determine the challenges and opportunities for the space.

They met community leaders and iconic figures, re-created as characters in the game. These characters, including the Museum’s own Isha Khan, shared insights about Winnipeg’s culture, history and their vision for the future.

Then the students were ready for what was next: their own ideas.

Students were tasked to create something within the game that answers the question: “How can we envision a connected, equitable and sustainable downtown that moves Winnipeg forward without leaving anyone behind?”

After investing more than 15,000 total hours, students across Winnipeg had created countless ideas. Their solutions ranged from green spaces, gardens and community centres to housing, transportation networks, neighbourhood designs and more.

(L. to R.) Students Kori, Madi and Cauis attended the Level Up Winnipeg showcase at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights on June 13, 2023.

These students got to celebrate and showcase their hard work at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights on June 13.

More than 300 students gathered at the Museum to hear from their peers and receive encouraging remarks from Mayor Scott Gillingham, local radio host Ace Burpee and CMHR CEO Isha Khan.

With the projects on display in the Museum’s Level 1 gallery, students could share their creative solutions and explore projects imagined by other students.

Madi, a student at Inkster School, said she enjoyed the project and felt good about the solution her group came up with to make food more available.

“We wanted people in the community who weren’t able to buy groceries or having food insecurity to be able to have a healthy meal.”

Projects like hers will be evaluated by a committee and presented to the City of Winnipeg. These ideas will inform the design of real-world public spaces and projects.

“It’s great that we did this, because it’s good for everyone to have a voice,” says Madi.

Thank you for supporting young human rights defenders!