Through the smoke of burning sage and sweetgrass the future of the Kapyong Barracks site in south Winnipeg became a little clearer Wednesday morning.
Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr (Winnipeg South Centre) — Manitoba’s lone member of cabinet — and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan gathered with 10 First Nations Chiefs and Grand Chiefs at Assiniboia Downs to announce the signing of the agreement in principle.
While concrete details on what will replace the degrading buildings currently on the former CFB Winnipeg land remains up in the air, it has been confirmed the site will be redeveloped as an urban reserve.
In his opening remarks, Long Plains First Nation Chief Dennis Meeches, who serves as a spokesman for the Treaty 1 chiefs set to inherit the land, said the new urban reserve would be a “game changer for Winnipeg.”
Sagkeeng First Nation Chief Derrick Henderson agreed, offering reassurances to Kapyong’s neighbours.
“Some people get the wrong idea of what we want to do with an urban reserve,” Henderson said. “We want to show the citizens of Winnipeg that we can be progressive in the right way. We’re not going anywhere, we will always be here as Indigenous peoples.”
“We will leave a future for our young people. I want to thank the government of Canada for recognizing Treaty 1 territory.”
The deal marks the first public signs of progress since troops decamped for Shilo in 2004, but Wednesday’s announcement was short on specifics.
“To our non-Indigenous brothers and sisters: don’t be afraid of urban reserves…. We have over 100 urban reserves in Saskatchewan and they create opportunities and jobs,” Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde said.
“This is a good thing, and I wanted to be here to bear witness to this. This is the tough work of reconciliation and it’s what we have to do to provide hope to our little ones.”
-Article Courtesy of Winnipeg Free Press