(Winnipeg) The Hudson’s Bay Company, Canada’s fur business and the oldest North American organization with roots in the Indigenous people, is calling on the First Nations to donate its iconic Winnipeg building to the Reconciliation Action Group.
Posted at 11:19 a.m. yesterday
On Friday, the retailer announced a donation to the Southern Chiefs Organization, a huge, nearly-centuries-old limestone building.
“We are very proud that the Hudson’s Bay Company can help us as leaders in reconciliation,” said Richard Baker, 352-year-old company governor and executive chairman. Over the years, the Hudsons Bay Company and the local people in Canada have collaborated and this is a new time for collaboration and partnership. We shake hands with our ex-partners and build a relationship for the future. ⁇
Grand Chief Jerry Daniels described the donation as a “historic and monumental” step towards reconciliation in Canada.
“The focus is really on creating as many opportunities as possible,” he said. We are really focused on economic reconciliation. ⁇
According to Daniels, the powerful symbolism of having a colonial shop in the hands of the indigenous people becomes “a beacon of hope.”
“It’s a place where local people come together and work together to put our children first,” he explained.
History associated with the expansion of colonies
The Hudsons Bay Company, now a holding company with real estate, department stores and e-commerce operations, began as a fur trading business in the 1670s.
Its complex history is associated with colonial expansion, as it established a monopoly on trade and exploitation with the local people.
The fur trade created dependence on products made in Europe and introduced diseases that devastated the local population.
Hudsons Bay also declared sovereignty over most of the land, selling it to the Government of Canada after the Confederation as part of its retail expansion.
The company store in Winnipeg opened in 1926.
“The Hudson’s Bay Company made a lot of money in western Canada,” said Sean Carleton, an assistant professor of history and local studies at the University of Manitoba. Downtown Store is a kind of icon for it. ⁇
$ 0 building
The Winnipeg building – one of the company’s “first six” flagship flagship stores – has been in decline for many years.
It was given heritage status in 2019, but the building was valued at $ 0 due to the large investment required in the valuation made the same year. The Hudson’s Bay Company closed the store permanently in 2020.
“Providing a worthless building (for indigenous peoples) is also somewhat appropriate in terms of what is provided at the end of the process,” Carleton said.
He said the building has a lot of potential to be transformed to suit the needs of the community.
300 affordable housing units
The working title of the project is Wehwehneh Bahgahkinahgohn, meaning “it looks” in Anishina Bemovin.
The six-story building in downtown Winnipeg will be converted to accommodate nearly 300 affordable homes, a daycare, a museum, an art gallery and a restaurant.
In addition to Western and traditional medicine, there are also plans for a health center with a roof top garden.
The historic facade of the heritage building will be preserved, while the interior remodeling will be in favor of low-carbon materials and energy consumption and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
It will become the future governing body for the Southern First Nations chiefs, who will represent 34 Anishinabe and Dakota.
Extensive restructuring is expected to create jobs in the construction phase and create significant long-term jobs once the works are completed.
Federal and regional investments
The federal and Manitoba governments announced investments of $ 65 million and $ 35 million, respectively, on Friday.
“By rebuilding the iconic Hudson’s Bay Company building in the heart of downtown Winnipeg, the Southern Chiefs Organization is helping to preserve this historic building, while at the same time creating nearly 300 much-needed homes for First Nations members in southern Manitoba,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement.
Manitoba Premier Heather Stephenson said, “Their government is supporting this unprecedented reconciliation process by working with the Southern Chiefs Organization and Canada Partnership for Indigenous Peoples on this housing and this incomparable social project.”
The province’s investment includes $ 10 million allocated for the creation of affordable housing, while $ 25 million is made available through the Building Fund for the Preservation of Heritage Properties.
The federal total of $ 55 million from the National Housing Strategy is a forgivable debt. The remaining 10 million is a low-cost loan.