Naaawi-Oodena now official urban reserve in Winnipeg

Former Kapyong Barracks now newest and biggest urban reserve in Canada.

Naaawi-Oodena – meaning the centre of the heart and community in Anishinaabemowin/Ojibwe – was made official at a ceremony in Winnipeg this week.

Leaders of the seven First Nations that comprise Treaty 1 say it is the newest and biggest urban reserve in Canada.

They expect it to create thousands of jobs and generate billions of dollars in new investment.

“You know, we worked on this file for well over 20 years,” said Dennis Meeches, former chairperson of Treaty One Nation. “Past and present chiefs – and it was a difficult one for us.”

The fate of the 64-hectare property in south Winnipeg was in legal limbo for nearly 20 years.

When Canada tried to sell the former military property Treaty 1 fought to have it returned to First Nations through the Treaty Land Entitlement process.

“Winnipeg has always been the centre of economic activity for our communities, for thousands and thousands and thousands of years,” said Chief Gordon Bluesky, chair of Treaty One Nation, “so this isn’t something new for us.

“Unfortunately, we’ve had a bit of a disruption through our history, which we’re starting to reconcile today.”

The reserve is located amid some of the most expensive residential and commercial property in  Winnipeg.

Development plans include housing, retail, community, sports and recreation. It will also be home to an administration centre for Treaty One Nation.

An official groundbreaking is scheduled for the spring.

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