Questioning the Locals: Lorance Uwinaza

free-wheelin' discussion with local folks

V1 Staff |

Photo by Elijah Vanderpoel
Photo by Elijah Vanderpoel

A proud first-generation college graduate whose family came to the U.S. to escape the genocide in Rwanda, Lorance has laid down roots in the Chippewa Valley. Eau Claire was where she furthered her education, signed her first lease, bought her first car, and so much more. Though less diverse than larger neighboring cities such as St. Paul, Lorance said she's grown to understand herself – and specifically her Blackness – more by living here.




What place in town considers you a “regular”?

In the summertime, I’d say The Joynt. I was there almost every day at one point, but the colder temps usually keep me inside my apartment until it starts to warm up again. I also frequent El Pat because who doesn’t love a burrito-marg combo?!

What frustrates you about the Chippewa Valley?

The lack of events for black people and other people of color. There’s also a lack of representation in the Chippewa Valley and/or lack of messaging for those that would benefit from knowing there are others that look like them (not white). I feel there is also a sense of “fake” activism among the community; organizations will claim to not/support something but don’t take any further action to ensure a change or anything. I like to see actual support through action from more of the community – a flag or a sign is not enough.

What is one of the best cultural experiences you've ever had in the Chippewa Valley?

I was a part of a group that met to have dinner and open conversation about social justice topics relevant to our communities. I have never been in a room with people from such diverse backgrounds. From ethnicity to age to income, it was a range of people all there for the same cause – being committed to conversation, connection, collaboration, and community.

Water Street or Downtown?

Ahhhhhh – can I say both? Downtown in the summer HANDS DOWN, but Water Street really never gets old – there’s Kwik Trip, The Joynt, Mogie’s, and so many others.

What are you most passionate about?

I am passionate about helping people achieve their goals and dreams while strengthening my connections and abilities. I also love to learn because I truly believe knowledge can power but what you do with it – having the opportunity to do something with it – can be even more powerful.

Southside or Northside?

I’d say the Southside because I get my nails done over there!

Death bed, one meal from a local restaurant, what would it be?

Although no longer on the menu, The Good Wives had the most DELICIOUS chicken paprikash served on a bed of nokedli that just melted in your mouth – absolute, breathtaking meal.

What book, TV show, or movie would you recommend to the members of City Council?

13th. It's a Netflix documentary about the criminalization of Black people in the U.S. I feel that it is a good start for people wanting to educate themselves on social injustices and a touch on where systematic racism in the U.S. stems from.

What sort of economic development would you like to see in our area?

I would like more grocery store-like places and non-café style dining options downtown.

If you could rename Eau Claire with a different French name, what would it be?

Je ne sais pas — I’ve never been good at naming things (it took me three months to name my car).

What part of town have you never visited (and why)?

Not a part of town, but I haven’t gone to many of the staple parks in Eau Claire. I’ve been to a few for classes I took in undergrad but didn’t get to experience them for myself. I’ve also never liked being outside until recently so I hope to start exploring more of what Eau Claire naturally has to offer.


Lorance's Shoutouts

The Joynt. “With all the connections and good vibes it always has to offer. Whether it’s a busy night or you’re the only table there, that’s the place I go to lift my spirits."

Phoenix Park. “Or all the memories I was able to experience alone and with many loved ones.

Chicken Teriyaki Bowl from KD Sushi. “They started in the university’s sushi place and were a staple meal for me and MANY others during my freshman year. Like most, I grew to hate them at one point but have found myself having one every so often as a “treat.""