First Nations celebrate reclamation of former Kapyong Barracks lands
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With drumming, blessings and traditional ceremonies, Treaty One Nation celebrated a land reclamation that they hope will spark others.
The Wednesday event was the first to be held on the Naawi-Oodena land since it was officially converted to reserve status, a key step in creating the largest urban economic development zone in Canada.
“This is a special moment in time for us here that we can see land reclamation and reconciliation,” said Gordon BlueSky, chief of Brokenhead Ojibway Nation and chair of Treaty One Development Corp.
The former Kapyong Barracks land along Kenaston Boulevard is set for the roughly $1.2 billion Naawi-Oodena development. It is expected to offer a mixed-use village with commercial, residential, sports and recreation, cultural campus, education and community spaces. That would include 2,300 to 3,000 residential units and 915,000 to 1.2 million square feet of commercial space.
Treaty One will develop 109 acres of the land, while the federal Canada Lands Corp. will develop the remaining 52 acres.
BlueSky deemed the project an example of economic reconciliation, noting many Indigenous communities have been displaced from their ancestral lands.
“I want to acknowledge the sacrifices that were made so that we may be here today. I want to acknowledge that Naawi-Oodena is the first of many lands that will be reclaimed by our Treaty One First Nations. I want to acknowledge that our territory has been drastically impacted by settlement and development,” he said.
The project has been deemed a model of Indigenous self-governance and is expected to boost economic development for both Treaty One and the City of Winnipeg.
“This is a tremendous opportunity and a historic first step towards economic reconciliation for First Nations people in this region,” said Cathy Merrick, Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.
BlueSky noted Treaty One supports plans to expand Kenaston Boulevard, noting it suffers from a “seemingly endless traffic jam.” The city is now seeking public feedback on a proposed design to widen the notorious bottleneck between Ness and Taylor avenues, add active transportation paths on both sides and update its aging infrastructure.
Treaty One expects to begin construction at Naawi-Oodena in early fall, starting with 7.4 acres of land at the corner of Kenaston Boulevard and Taylor Avenue.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.