Christine (Chris) Burrows
Chris Burrows was a builder and an activist, dedicating much of her work to her inner-city community of North Point Douglas. She demonstrated that an impoverished community can mobilize and develop a healthy neighbourhood. She served on the Board of Directors of the Point Douglas Residents Committee and she was a founding board member of the North Point Douglas Seniors Association. As a board member of SISTARS, she was the catalyst for the building of the Eagle Wing Early Childhood Centre and the redevelopment of Barber House, on Euclid Avenue, one of Winnipeg’s oldest houses. A founder of the Point Community News, she served on the its board and wrote numerous articles. Burrows was one the driving forces behind Point Douglas’s Powerline, the crime-fighting, community-development organization that showed volunteers residents can take on the gangs and dealers and win.
Like all trailblazers, she excelled in other areas.
A victim of childhood sexual assault, she was an early advocate for prevention of sexual assault. When it was not popular to discuss family abuse, she was on CBC’s Peter Gzowski talking openly about her experience and successful survival of assault by her father.
As a lover of nature, Burrows was a master gardener even in the difficult soils of Thompson. There are nine beautiful cedar trees, some twenty feet tall, surrounding her home and in the yard, some on boulevards (without permission) and in neighbours’ yards, as well.
As an educator, she played helped develop three early childhood centres. She was recognized as an exemplary primary school teacher, teaching Grade 1 and Kindergarten in Seven Oaks School Division.
As an artist, she painted large acrylic paintings of social issues and the human figure. She was twice censored for the strong images she used in her paintings on the issue of childhood sexual abuse.
Burrows was not one for making speeches, preferring to work behind the scenes. However, when making a presentation to city council on an issue important to her beloved Point Douglas, she noticed mayor and councillors were busy on their computers and cell phones. In her best Kindergarten-teacher voice she said: “ Please put away your electronic devices.” A little shocked, they stopped looking at their cell phones and computers.
“Now sit up straight and pay attention,” she demanded. And they did. At the end of her presentation, Mayor Sam Katz asked if they would get a gold star.
Burrows always said her greatest achievement was her family. In this she was not a Trailblazer, but the type of foundation woman that makes Manitoba and Canada a nurturing society. Burrows had a 49-year love affair with her husband and partner, Sel Burrows. She had three wonderful children, seven grandchildren, three who have followed her lead and become teachers, and three great-grandchildren.
Burrows died in 2019.