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|Former Kapyong barracks renamed Naawi-Oodena
By: Katlyn Streilein
Friday, Apr. 23, 2021
THE former Kapyong barracks site has a new name, embracing Anishinaabe culture: Naawi-Oodena.
Unveiled Thursday, it means “centre of the heart and community,” according to the group of Treaty 1 First Nations that has taken up the task of redeveloping the former Canadian military base in southwest Winnipeg.
Long Plain Chief Dennis Meeches says the site’s renaming is a step toward repatriation and an acknowledgement of Indigenous culture.
“I’m very, very excited. I think we have a beautiful name,” he said. “I’m hoping people will be able to get accustomed to it.”
|Site owners Treaty One Development Corp. and Canada Lands Co. (a federal Crown) released their 130-page master plan for the 160-acre area near Grant Avenue and Kenaston Boulevard in March. The land has not been in use since 2004, when the 2nd Battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry relocated to Canadian Forces Base Shilo.
According to the master plan, Treaty One Nation owns 68 per cent of the space. A portion of Naawi-Oodena will be devoted to an urban reserve managed by seven member First Nations.
The organization is slated to transform the now-vacant lot into a mixed-use neighbourhood that celebrates cultural identity through design.
The land designations include a mixed-used village, commercial mixed-use, medium- and lower-density residential, recreation, cultural campus, and education and community space.
The area is expected to drive economic development for First Nations communities.
“The name itself, it just fits right in with what’s happening at Naawi-Oodena,” Meeches said Thursday.
The renaming comes at a time when many Indigenous governments and groups are changing place names to reflect the people living in them, and are reclaiming traditional names.
“A lot of it has to do with the preservation of language, too,” Meeches said.
The Treaty 1 governing council selected Chief Derrick Henderson of Sagkeeng First Nation to approach Anishinaabe elder Dave Courchene Jr. with sacred tobacco and request he hold a naming ceremony.
“When you offer that tobacco, what you’re actually doing is seeking the higher realm of intelligence,” Courchene said. “It is in ceremony that we seek that guidance and direction to the name that should be given.”
|Chiefs, elders and community representatives from four First Nations travelled through a snowstorm to gather last week at Turtle Lodge in Sagkeeng, 100 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. Courchene arrived on Naawi-Oodena.
“I was able to transfer that name and bring it into this world for the leaders,” he said.
Courchene hopes Naawi-Oodena — a name with spiritual and physical meaning — will have a positive impact on the way people perceive the future neighbourhood.
“I hope the people will give the community a chance to develop,” he said. “We’re not going to be different than any other people. We’re going to make mistakes. There’s going to be a lot of challenges. That’s what community’s about.”
Construction on Naawi-Oodena is expected to begin as early as fall.