One of the most significant gathering spots in the province will soon have a place for learning about the history of the treaties that encompass Manitoba.
The treaty knowledge centre, slated to open in late fall in a collaboration between the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba and The Forks North Portage Partnership, received a $500,000 boost from the federal government on Friday as part of efforts to support tourism and recreation in Manitoba.
“It’s difficult for me to contain my excitement — and I’m excited not because of our dream at the Treaty Relations Commission, but I’m excited for Manitobans,” Treaty Commissioner Loretta Ross said during a news conference Friday under the outdoor canopy at The Forks market, near where the new centre is under construction.
The commission, whose work includes efforts to strengthen the treaty relationship and advance education about the treaties, is building the centre to further reconciliation, Ross said.
The numbered treaties are a series of treaties between First Nations and the Crown signed from 1871 to 1921.
There are 11 numbered treaties in total, covering an area that stretches from Ontario to British Columbia and from the U.S. border into the northern territories. In Manitoba, Treaties 1-5 cover the bulk of the province’s landmass.
Treaty-making was unique to each setting and was a reflection of time and place, the Treaty Relations Commission website says.
“Understanding what our ancestors, our respective ancestors wanted as they entered into that treaty process is fundamental and significant for us to move forward and to make … true reconciliation,” Ross said.
The funding is from a new tourism relief fund created by Prairies Economic Development Canada (formerly Western Economic Diversification).
It will also go toward expanding the Waterfront Loop, a 2.5-kilometre walking trail that crosses the Assiniboine and Red rivers, which will include storytelling panels with information about the treaties.
“For thousands of years, this place, now called The Forks, has been a space to gather and to share stories,” said Sara Stasiuk, president and chief executive officer of The Forks North Portage Partnership.
“Welcoming the Treaty Relations Commission knowledge centre to this high-profile … really busy spot, right here at The Forks, is an important step for fulfilling and furthering knowledge of Indigenous history and of our responsibilities as treaty people.”
The funding for the treaty centre is part of $10.8 million for 39 projects to support travel, tourism and recreation initiatives in Manitoba and to help the Manitoba tourism industry recover from effects of the pandemic, Winnipeg South MP Terry Duguid said at the funding announcement.
The money comes through the federal tourism relief fund, Canada community revitalization fund and regional relief and recovery fund.
The Forks is also receiving more than $418,000 for upgrades along the riverbank through the Canada Community Revitalization Fund, as well as $100,000 to help businesses adapt to new economic realities and recover from the effects of the pandemic.