The Forks in Winnipeg now an education in history

Jolene Banning
For decades The Forks in Winnipeg has been a gathering place for locals and tourists alike.

It attracts millions of visitors year round with walking trails, gift shops and art.

The Forks

(Mike Valcourt is the artist behind the painting at the foot of the wooden bridge along the walking tour of The Forks. Photo: Jolene Banning/APTN)

But the meeting grounds of Niistowaya has been the home to Indigenous peoples long before settlers made it this far west.

Now it’s offering an educational experience about its place in history.

There’s a self-guided audio tour to down load and narrated by Niigaan Sinclair, curator of the Gathering Place.

“The forks is a very kind of western way of understanding this space as where two rivers come together then head off to Lake Winnipeg but that’s not the way Indigenous People saw this site,” said Sinclair.

The tour takes about an hour.

The Forks

(A bronze sculpture of a pregnant woman called Ninaamaa, meaning my mother in Ojibway, Cree and Metis language, with mirrored surfaces to reflect yourself in her. Photo: Jolene Banning/APTN)

It guides people to places like the monument for missing or murdered Indigenous women and girls, the Odeena celebration circle and Niimaamaa.

“The hope is that we understand Winnipeg is built literally on top of Indigenous civilizations and those civilizations are still here, still in operation,” said Sinclair.

“The intellectual histories of those peoples are still here, still vibrant, still contributing. So that’s part of renaming things or bringing back the names from those things.”

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