Bringing Indigenous languages to trails

Healing Trails project mixes traditional knowledge, active transportation

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This article was published 27/02/2020 (893 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

To move forward, you need to take that first step. 
That’s the idea behind Healing Trails, an Indigenous-led initiative of the Winnipeg Trails Association that intends to “re-think transportation through policy work, capacity building, education and tangible real-world projects.” 
Transcona’s Janell Henry, a member of Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation, is the project co-lead. She recently attended the Winter Cycling Congress in Joensuu, Finland, where she presented on developing new frameworks for sustainable transportation planning and land stewardship as reconciliation. While in attendance, she also took in the presentations of other researchers from around the world.
“In Finland, they’re really known for their winter cycling infrastructure and design,” Henry told The Herald. “We want to mix our Indigenous knowledge with all the stuff we learned in Finland, how they put in new infrastructure, so that Winnipeg can have something new and super awesome.”
In founding and assembling the Healing Trails crew, which is funded by Winnipeg Foundation and the Trans Canada Trail and supported by the City of Winnipeg, Henry and the rest of the team hope to provide opportunities for users of trails to engage with Indigenous culture.
“We’re working on a guidebook, so that we have a framework we follow that’s backed by Indigenous knowledge,” she said. 
Healing Trails recently partnered with UMCycle, a group of bike advocates at the University of Manitoba, who have created a cycling map of the Fort Garry campus.
“We have the same mission of implementing language and art on the trails, and using that art to heal past relationships, by putting Indigenous languages and stories on that map,” Henry said. “It’s a beautiful piece, which will be unveiled after the snow melts.”
Healing Trails intends to add signage to Winnipeg’s network of public trails, but Henry admits that task alone is a challenging one.
“There’s a lot of different (Indigenous) dialects,” she explained. “And even if we know what we want to translate, we’re extremely limited on translators, so there’s that too.”
To date, Healing Trails has undertaken some Ojibwa and Cree translations.
“But eventually we want to do the whole city in seven languages if we can,” she added. “Even if people are just walking by and they see these words in Indigenous languages, it starts to stick more. They have those opportunities to engage.”
The group is also planning to develop a series of Indigenous knowledge nodes along the Red River, from the University of Manitoba north to Henderson Highway, which would act as stops along a river tour.
“We’ve identified nodes along the tour, where it will stop, so we hope to install some Indigenous art there which would tell a story,” she said. 
For more information, visit www.winnipegtrails.ca/

To move forward, you need to take that first step. 

That’s the idea behind Healing Trails, an Indigenous-led initiative of the Winnipeg Trails Association that intends to “re-think transportation through policy work, capacity building, education and tangible real-world projects.” 

Sheldon Birnie Janell Henry (left) and Brennan McKay are members of the Winnipeg Trails Association’s Healing Trails team. The Healing Trails project was launched by Winnipeg Trails as part of the organization’s commitment to the City of Winnipeg’s Indigenous Accord. An Indigenous trails crew is being assembled, who will work to bring Indigenous languages and teachings to Winnipeg’s trail system. (SHELDON BIRNIE/CANSTAR/THE HERALD)

Transcona’s Janell Henry, a member of Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation, is the project co-lead. She recently attended the Winter Cycling Congress in Joensuu, Finland, where she presented on developing new frameworks for sustainable transportation planning and land stewardship as reconciliation. While in attendance, she also took in the presentations of other researchers from around the world.

“In Finland, they’re really known for their winter cycling infrastructure and design,” Henry told The Herald. “We want to mix our Indigenous knowledge with all the stuff we learned in Finland, how they put in new infrastructure, so that Winnipeg can have something new and super awesome.”

In founding and assembling the Healing Trails crew, which is funded by Winnipeg Foundation and the Trans Canada Trail and supported by the City of Winnipeg, Henry and the rest of the team hope to provide opportunities for users of trails to engage with Indigenous culture.

“We’re working on a guidebook, so that we have a framework we follow that’s backed by Indigenous knowledge,” she said. 

Healing Trails recently partnered with UMCycle, a group of bike advocates at the University of Manitoba, who have created a cycling map of the Fort Garry campus.

“We have the same mission of implementing language and art on the trails, and using that art to heal past relationships, by putting Indigenous languages and stories on that map,” Henry said. “It’s a beautiful piece, which will be unveiled after the snow melts.”

Healing Trails intends to add signage to Winnipeg’s network of public trails, but Henry admits that task alone is a challenging one.

“There’s a lot of different (Indigenous) dialects,” she explained. “And even if we know what we want to translate, we’re extremely limited on translators, so there’s that too.”

To date, Healing Trails has undertaken some Ojibwa and Cree translations.

“But eventually we want to do the whole city in seven languages if we can,” she added. “Even if people are just walking by and they see these words in Indigenous languages, it starts to stick more. They have those opportunities to engage.”

The group is also planning to develop a series of Indigenous knowledge nodes along the Red River, from the University of Manitoba north to Henderson Highway, which would act as stops along a river tour.

“We’ve identified nodes along the tour, where it will stop, so we hope to install some Indigenous art there which would tell a story,” she said. 

For more information, visit www.winnipegtrails.ca

Sheldon Birnie

Sheldon Birnie
Community Journalist

Sheldon Birnie is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time. Email him at sheldon.birnie@canstarnews.com Call him at 204-697-7112

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