Creating affordable homes for Indigenous Peoples in Winnipeg
I’d like to begin by recognizing the land on which we gather is Treaty 1 territory and the traditional homeland of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Dakota, Dene, and the homeland of the Métis Nation.
Elders, Grand Chief Daniels, Premier Stefanson, Mayor Bowman, Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, Dr. Phil Fontaine, I’m very happy to be with you all for this historic day, and it is extremely good to be here with Richard Baker, the CEO of the Hudson’s Bay Company.
Thank you also to the Southern Chiefs’ Organization for giving us the chance to be here together today for this historic moment.
Wehwehneh Bahgahkinahgohn, that’s the name of this new initiative.
What it means is, “it is visible.”
Today’s announcement is reconciliation in action.
For the Southern Chiefs’ Organization to become the new stewards of the Hudson’s Bay building in downtown Winnipeg is an inspiring and inspired act of reclamation. I want to thank everyone who made this possible, for your leadership, for your creativity, for your innovation, for your determination. And thank you for asking us all to join you, not just those in this room, but those watching from coast to coast to coast on this historic day of reconciliation.
I would also like to thank the members of my team who are here today, Ministers Vandal, Hajdu and Hussen, as well as our Manitoba MPs Terry Duguid, Kevin Lamoureux and the Honourable Jim Carr… who have championed this initiative with great energy. We will all continue to be community partners as this project is implemented.
This is a historic and symbolic day, but it’s also much more than just symbolism. The revitalization of the HBC building will have real positive impacts on First Nations people here in the city, and it will have positive impacts on Winnipeg’s downtown core too, creating jobs, and economic prosperity. To support this transformative project, our government will invest $65 million.
(Drumbeats & applause)
This investment will create almost 300 new affordable housing units.
The families who are going to live in the renovated building, and the employees who are going to work there, will have access to quality child care on site, and a portion of the housing will be reserved for First Nations elders who will have access to culturally appropriate services. I’ve seen the pictures, the plans for the transformation of the building, with a museum, art gallery and restaurants, and I can tell you it’s going to be a very beautiful space.
Everyone in Canada should have a home that is safe and affordable. That’s a priority for our government, and the budget we presented two weeks ago invests more than $4 billion in new funding to ensure that Indigenous families have access to more housing.
We’re also investing to codevelop and launch an urban, rural, and northern Indigenous housing strategy, something many in this room have long advocated for.
(Drumbeats & applause)
We’re continuing our work with Indigenous communities across the country to help ensure that everyone has a safe and affordable place to call home.
I also want to wish everyone a happy Earth Day today. From preserving nature to fighting climate change and delivering clean air, our government will continue to protect the environment and support Indigenous climate priorities. Our work to protect nature and fight climate change is shared, and we know that we have much to learn from Indigenous peoples for whom, as it was pointed out a couple of times, every day is Earth Day.
Today's announcement is more than just about a building; it's actually about rebuilding. Rebuilding trust. Rebuilding landmarks. Rebuilding relationships. Winnipeg has the largest Indigenous population of any city in Canada, and I know that today's project will inspire people from coast to coast to coast.
The history of the Hudson's Bay Company is a long one in this country, woven in inextricably with the story of Indigenous Peoples and the story of the need for reconciliation. This moment today is a tangible example of the kinds of steps that are being made in communities across the country between Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners.
This is a big action and example of reconciliation, and an important one that's gathering lots of attention. But every single day in communities large and small across the country, in neighbourhoods, in relations between individuals, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, reconciliation happens. It's not just about the big moments, it’s about all the moments in between, and the role that each and every one of us has to play in building the kind of present and the kind of future that these extraordinary young people who were gathered on stage a little earlier, and all those young people who will be impacted by what happens here today for years and generations to come, it has to be about them. That's what we are focused on.
So, all of you gathered here today, you can be deeply proud of what you have accomplished. And I know that this new space and this new relationship will serve as a blueprint for people across the country for generations to come.
It will be visible.
Thank you. Pilamaya. Miigwetch.