Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
The Manitoba community of Deloraine has officially renamed a park that for years was emblazoned with the name of the town’s most famous former resident, Peter Nygard.
The move to rename Nygard Park as Prairie Sentinels Park came in the wake of a torrent of rape allegations against the Winnipeg fashion mogul.
In 2002, the municipality of Deloraine-Winchester — located about 320 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg — held a ceremony to name the town’s park after Nygard.
Nygard, 79, moved to the community from Finland in 1952 with his family, who later relocated to Winnipeg where Nygard would go on to launch the fashion business that would make him a multi-millionaire.
But in February 2020, 10 women filed a class-action lawsuit in New York alleging Nygard had raped, drugged and sodomized them.
Since then, the number of women publicly accusing Nygard of rape and various forms of sexual misconduct has risen to more than 50. A second lawsuit was later launched by two of Nygard’s sons, who also alleged sexual abuse.
The allegations have not been proven in court.
Nygard, speaking through his attorneys, has repeatedly maintained his innocence, claiming he’s at the centre of an elaborate conspiracy orchestrated by people with a personal vendetta against him who are trying to ruin his business and reputation.
In response to the controversy, the Deloraine-Winchester Historical Society put forth a proposal to rename Nygard Park as Prairie Sentinels Park on May 15. The proposal was approved.
"The name change has happened. We’re busy putting story boards together for the park, welcoming story boards that will discuss the history of Deloraine and commemorate all the innovators in our district," said Amanda Burger, chairwoman of the Deloraine-Winchester Historical Society.
"We’re busy with the research. Most of it has been done. And now we’re in the process of getting sponsors. We hope the park’s official reopening will happen next year. But yes, the name change has been done."
In February, Deloraine-Winchester Reeve Gord Weidenhamer told the Brandon Sun the community was wrestling with what to do about the park’s name in the aftermath of the allegations against Nygard.
"We’ve had people contact us — contact councillors, contact the office," Weidenhamer said.
"Obviously, with the history of Nygard Park and family back in the '50s, where do we stand with some of these issues?"
The park is home to various flags from around the world that serves as a tourist attraction for the town, which has a population of less than 1,000 people.
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