Indigenous Languages Celebrated: Downtown Business & City Recreation Centres Install Decals with Message of Welcome


April 18, 2016


Downtown Winnipeg – In an effort to create a greater sense of place and a feeling of welcome, the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s Aboriginal Peoples’ Advisory Committee launched a new initiative today that will invite downtown businesses to install decals that express a feeling of welcome and inclusion, represented in Indigenous languages: Ojibwe, Cree, Dene, Michif, Dakota, and Inuktitut. Business leaders in attendance, who helped install the first decal at Portage Place Shopping Centre, took part in a workshop to learn more about the historical and contemporary issues that relate to the Treaties and what this means for Winnipeg and its downtown today. The City of Winnipeg also announced how it will be posting these decals in downtown and inner city recreational facilities.

“I am proud to support the work of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ and its members in this wonderful initiative during 2016, the Year of Reconciliation,” said Jenny Gerbasi, City Councillor for Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry. “These decals are a great way to continue a positive and inclusive dialogue and to create an atmosphere of diversity and understanding that makes our city strong.”

“The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s Aboriginal Peoples’ Advisory Committee believes it can play a role in inspiring downtown businesses to find and create opportunities to enhance and improve mutual respect for all Indigenous peoples,” says Lisa Meeches, a member of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s Aboriginal Peoples’ Advisory Committee. “By encouraging greater awareness of the importance of the Indigenous community in our downtown, it will hopefully unite the community, promote cross-cultural celebration and awareness, and further economic development opportunities.”

The Indigenous Languages Decal Initiative is a powerful and symbolic initiative that celebrates Indigenous arts and languages. This initiative is a challenge to downtown businesses to work towards greater reconciliation with the Indigenous community, and in fostering understanding, respect, and dignity for all. This initiative links to the fourth guiding principle outlined in a report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: “Reconciliation requires constructive action on addressing the ongoing legacies of colonialism that have had destructive impacts on Aboriginal peoples’ education, cultures, and languages.” 80+ businesses have already joined the initiative. To learn more about the Indigenous Languages Decal initiative, visit:

“We are proud to acknowledge that our downtown campus is located on Treaty One land, in the heart of the Métis homeland. In this Year of Reconciliation, part of our work is to help build a culture that is welcoming, inclusive and based on mutual understanding and respect,” said Dr. Annette Trimbee, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Winnipeg.  “We are pleased to partner today with the Downtown BIZ in visibly celebrating the diversity of Indigenous languages that are a thriving part of our city.”

About the Indigenous Languages Decal Design

The word “welcome” was translated with assistance from the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s Aboriginal Peoples’ Advisory Committee, Aboriginal Languages Inc., and the University of Winnipeg.

The design features a sunrise/sunset element to represent the directions that Portage Ave. runs (North to South). The colour palette is that of a sunrise/sunset which is warm and welcoming. A sunrise can represent new beginnings and the start of something new and enlightening.

The plant illustration in the corners of the design is of sweet grass, which in some Indigenous cultures is a sacred plant used in spiritual ceremonies. Sweet grass is a prairie native plant but also grows in low meadows, forest openings, and lake shores. Sweet grass is known to have a healing effect and when burned, the smoke is believed to eliminate negative thoughts.

The tan colour in the middle of the design is representative of the grass fields of the prairie landscape, and the blues at the bottom of the rivers and lakes throughout Winnipeg and Manitoba.

About the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ Aboriginal Peoples’ Advisory Committee

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. 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 Shopping Centre, and representatives from the Downtown Winnipeg 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.

Learn more about the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ Aboriginal Peoples’ Advisory Committee:

Special thanks to our generous program sponsors: Portage Place Shopping Centre, Red Road Lodge, Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg, and Metro News Winnipeg.

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Emily Ormonde, Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Downtown Winnipeg BIZ
Phone: (204) 958-4626

 Indigenous Welcome Decals Initiative Downtown Winnipeg BIZ WEB RES

Participating Businesses


  • Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce
  • Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg
  • APTN
  • Bison Books
  • Bleachers Sports Bar
  • Chizma Tea
  • cityplace Shoe Repair
  • Clay Oven Express
  • Cobbler’s Corner
  • Credit Union Central of Manitoba
  • Cree-Ations & Artists Showcase
  • Cristall Opticians
  • Delta Winnipeg Hotel
  • Downtown Winnipeg BIZ
  • East India Company Pub & Eatery
  • Eshel Tree
  • Fools & Horses Coffee Co.
  • Garrick Hotel
  • Giant Tiger
  • Grace Shop
  • Graham Convenience Store
  • Helene’s Bridal Salon
  • Hon Shu Watches and Jewellery
  • Java Jungle Coffee Company
  • Jing Jing Asian Restaurant
  • Kennedy Optical
  • Luna Café
  • Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre
  • Manito Ahbee Festival
  • Manitoba Hotel Association
  • Manitoba Hydro
  • Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries
  • The Marlborough Hotel
  • Mitchell Fabrics
  • MTS (Portage Place and Winnipeg Square Corporate Stores)
  • Nick’s on Broadway
  • Pall’s Unisex Hairstyling
  • Perfume Paradise
  • Portage Place Shopping Centre
    • A&M Orthopedic Shoe Repair
    • Accents Plus
    • Cherry Creek Café & Bar
    • City Jewellers
    • DKF Fashion
    • Dynamic Cellular
    • Fairweather
    • K.S. Clothing
    • H’Attitude
    • International Clothiers
    • Liberty Tax Service
    • LiteracyWorks
    • Mesh Hair Design
    • Oriental Gifts
    • Quarks/Urban Trail
    • Shoe Warehouse
    • Silver Connection
    • Studio 393
    • T-Bar Express
    • The Shiny Company
    • The Source by Circuit City
    • Upbeat Artworks
    • Urban 101
  • Priscilla’s Elegant Shop
  • Red Road Lodge
  • Sana SoupHouse
  • Scientific Marvel School of Hair Style
  • Second Cup on Graham Ave.
  • Shoe Net Winnipeg
  • Specs Appeal Optical
  • Stantec Consulting
  • Sunrise Health Foods
  • The Forks
  • The Habesha Convenience Store Inc.
  • This Little Place
  • Twist Bistro
  • The University of Winnipeg
  • Venio Store
  • V Maxx Food
  • Winnipeg Goldeyes Baseball Club