Initiated in 2014, the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s Aboriginal Peoples’ Advisory Committee, aims to act as a formal liaison point between the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s Management Board and Indigenous peoples/stakeholders. In the spirit of partnership and collaboration, the objectives of this committee are two-fold: (a) to encourage feedback from Indigenous peoples on the programs led by the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ and (b) to acknowledge Indigenous history, culture, and traditions.
What has been accomplished?
- A partnership with Manito Ahbee Festival was formed to help the festival reach a larger audience, inviting both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to participate. This ongoing partnership signifies the BIZ’s commitment towards creating a truly welcoming, inclusive, and accessible downtown; one that is culturally sensitive and diverse. Weeks leading up to the festival, the BIZ infuses its own programs with Manito Ahbee musicians, performers, and artisans. In the past, a series of lunch and learns were facilitated to educate the business community about Indigenous culture and traditions, in addition to a Pow Wow at the Park and an all-Indigenous music stage at the BIZ’s three-day festival, ManyFest.
- Co-hosted by the BIZ and Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce, Indigenous leaders toured downtown to learn more about recent redevelopment projects, and participated in a robust discussion about downtown issues like poverty, homelessness, safety, transportation, and placemaking. This tour served as a catalyst for increased dialogue and discussion with the Indigenous community regarding the BIZ’s programs and services. Some of the concrete actions formed: add Indigenous art in empty storefronts downtown, support Indigenous placemaking/wayfinding, infuse Indigenous culture/arts/history in BIZ events, and facilitate conversations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
- A series of significant and thoughtful ideas and strategies were outlined at a press conference in 2016 to address the challenges of inclusion and safety at Portage Place and in our downtown – to bring communities together, build a common experience, and promote a conversation about Indigenous culture and traditions. Portage Place committed to incorporating an Indigenous lens to its security complement with Bear Paw Security replacing the mall’s current contractor, providing security services that considers and promotes Indigenous culture and traditions. In addition, Portage Place inducted and honoured Joseph Meconse as its official Ogichidaa, an Indigenous ambassador and liaison who will establish and maintain positive relationships and foster mutual understanding. Long-term goals of aligning Indigenous-led social agencies and applicable programs or services at or near Portage Place will also be explored by Portage Place. More information here.
- Indigenous Languages Decal Initiative launched to celebrate Indigenous language and arts, and to create a sense of welcome and inclusion. Click here for more information.
- Winnipeg’s first #IndigenousArtwalk that puts art and culture on display in downtown windows. Click here for more information.
How did we develop these ideas and who was involved along the way?
The BIZ’s Aboriginal Peoples’ Advisory Committee is comprised of representatives from the Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce, Manito Ahbee Festival, Red Road Lodge, Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg, Portage Place, and representatives from the BIZ’s Management Board. The ideas, visions, and suggestions for Indigenous initiatives emanates from this core group, in addition to comprehensive engagement with the broader community.
Where can you find great resources on better understanding Indigenous languages?