Chief Mistawasis Bridge
The Saskatoon City Council, on June 22, 2015, unanimously committed that the City adopt and implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s (TRC) relevant calls to action as well as work with community groups to promote reconciliation in our province. Responding to Call to Action #79: ‘Participate in a strategy to commemorate Aboriginal peoples’ history and contributions to Canada’, the City undertook a community-driven naming process for the North Commuter Parkway (NCP) Bridge.
Naming the NCP Bridge provided an opportunity to unite the community and province in an act of reconciliation and educate the community on Aboriginal history and culture, particularly in and around Saskatoon. The ‘Share Your Voice’ campaign engaged Saskatoon and area citizens, including Métis and First Nation Elders, Indian residential school and ‘Sixties Scoop’ survivors, by asking them to share their ideas for bridge names at in-person engagement events or an online form. Over 400 ideas were brought forward by the community, which were narrowed down to a shortlist of four names: Louis Riel, Chief Mistawasis, Wîcîhitowin and Waniskâ.
The process focused on engaging with youth and getting them actively involved in learning about the past and how it relates to our community today. Working with the school divisions, a number of learning resources were created that can be used now and into the future, including four educational vignettes, school lesson plans and tool kits. As a result of the naming process, a number of names have been referred to the Naming Advisory Committee for consideration of addition to the master names list for use in naming future civic infrastructure.
The community-led NCP Bridge Naming Steering Committee was facilitated by the City of Saskatoon and included representatives from: Office of the Treaty Commissioner, Central Urban Métis Federation Inc, Saskatoon Tribal Council, and Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations. Throughout the journey, it was important that Métis and First Nation Elders guided the cultural protocol for the naming project in all aspects, including the blessing of the land which took place in May 2017.
For more information on the 'Share Your Voice' campaign, including the four educational vignettes and a list of educational resources, visit Saskatoon.ca/engage/ncp.
How was the name chosen?
- Names were gathered from the community, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal residents, through an open call for nominations.
- Elders and Survivors reflected and deliberated on the list of names in order to assist the Naming Steering Committee in determining a shortlist of four names.
- A series of vignettes was promoted to the community to learn more about the significance of the names and invite the public to provide input online or in-person.
What was the naming criteria?
Nominations had to meet one of the following guidelines:
- Historical Name acknowledging an Aboriginal historical event or figure.
- Word or Concept that embodies the spirit of community, coming together or connection.
“Chief Mistawasis” chosen as the name for the North Commuter Parkway Bridge on National Indigenous Peoples Day 2018.