Sun. May 26th, 2024

Two Winnipeg roads are up for a name change, but there’s more to it than just replacing street signs.

Reports from the upcoming Property and Development Committee meeting show the city has budgeted more than $105,000 for costs associated with changing Grandin Street to Taapweewin Way, and more than $211,000 to turn Bishop Grandin Boulevard into Abinooji Mikanah.

Bishop Vital-Justin Grandin is considered one of the architects of the residential school system, said reports.

Fern Gauthier, who has lived on Grandin Street most of his life, sees the name change as a way to bring reconciliation. “We have to give (Indigenous people) a chance to heal,” he said.

The reports said new names were chosen in consultation with residential school survivors, elders, and Indigenous groups in Winnipeg.

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Abinooji Mikanah roughly translates to “children’s road,” and Taapweewin means “truth” in Michif — the ancestral language of the Red River Métis, said the report. Both names are intended to honour “all Indigenous experience, culture, history and all children, including residential school survivors.”

St. Boniface city councillor, Matthieu Allard, said the name changes might seem expensive up front, but it’s not an unusual price tag and the city is willing to cover it.

“As the change is coming from the city, I think it’s reasonable to have the city absorb those costs,” he said.

“In terms of the costs, they are relatively reasonable, I would say, if you compare them to what’s been proposed in other cities.”

Of those costs, a significant portion are going to reimbursing property and business owners for any out-of-pocket expenses tied to changing their address like signage, websites and stationary.

The Winnipeg Kinsmen, whose office is on Grandin Street, said in a statement to Global News they’ve requested the city reimburse them for $91,000 of printed material they’ll need replaced with the new address.

The organization said supporting Indigenous organizations in Manitoba through fundraising remains their top priority.

Gauthier said that saying he lives on Taapweewin Way will take some getting used to after 49 years of calling it “Grandin.”

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Even in the midst of the change, Gauthier said he believes it’s a step in the right direction.

“We’re happy. As long as we’re happy here on the street that’s the main thing, right?”

The city’s own Street Names By-law, number 115/2011, discourages street name changes to prevent confusion and inconvenience for businesses and emergency services.

However, the reports said in these two cases the impact would be minimal as “there are very few properties addressed on Bishop Grandin Boulevard,” and mostly just residential properties on Grandin Street.

Before council votes on the bylaw change, the report goes before the Property and Development Committee on Thursday.

with files from Global’s Iris Dyck

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