It was a long and tragic death for the 600,000-square-foot store. Only two of White Monolith’s six sales floors were still in use when its cash registers finally fell silent.
At the time, in early 2021, many had high hopes that the Bay Store would survive the fate of neighboring Eaton’s outlet, which was demolished to make way for the Winnipeg Jets field. But the fate of the property was uncertain, as a real estate firm set the price at $ 0 because of the cost of renovating or demolishing it.
Just a week ago, however, the future of the landmark was secured – and probably not as many as expected. Bay announced that it was handing over the property and building to the Southern Chiefs Organization, which represents 34 Manitoba First Nations. After receiving approximately C ً 100 million in funding, the majority of which comes from the federal government, Southern Chiefs has ambitious plans for the site: affordable housing, auxiliary housing, healing center, one-day care. , A museum, meeting places and restaurants, including other facilities. These plans include the restoration of the old store’s Pedal Wheel Restaurant, which many readers fondly remembered in their emails last year.
Above all, Bay’s decision to hand over its former headquarters to the First Nations Group in Canada’s largest urbanized city is deeply symbolic. The Gulf, more than any other organization, was a driving force behind Canada’s European colonies. The company was founded in 1670 to take advantage of the fur trade. Land of Rupert, An area that makes up about one-third of present-day Canada. King Charles II, without consulting the local population, claimed the territory from England and gave it to his cousin. From then on, the company’s relationship with the locals was mostly exploitative.
“It’s very fitting that this land is being returned to the First Nations,” Jerry Daniels, the Grand Chief of the Southern Chiefs’ Organization, told me. “I think this shows that Corporate Canada is interested in playing an active role in rebuilding its relationship with the local people.”
Chief Daniels told me that negotiations for the building had been delayed for at least 18 months. Initially, Chief Daniels said, he traveled to New York with others, including Phil Fontaine, former national head of the Assembly of First Nations. Richard A. Baker, Real Estate Magnet Who owns the department store chain. He said that in addition to agreeing to give the building to the group, Mr Baker promised to work with the leaders on its restoration.
Chief Daniels said the renovation project is in progress, although talks are underway for additional funding of approximately C 30 million.
The often indeterminate concept of “landback” has become the focus of attention of many locals in recent years. Many locals define it when governments return land – or Crownland, as it is commonly called – to First Nations and other indigenous groups. Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, acting head of the Department of Local Studies at the University of Manitoba, said the Bay Project would not be eligible for land reclamation unless the federal government formally declared the store a citizen reserve, or an autonomous local government. Not recognized as an area.
But even so, he praised the plan, which is often referred to as Kinah Gohan, in which he is not involved.
“It’s a wonderful initiative,” he said. “People should be very proud.”
Professor Sinclair said the project would benefit local people more, arguing that it would be an honor for Winnipeg and its struggling city.
He told me, “The locals will be re-occupying a place that is of great historical importance to us, but they will also be cleaning up the mess that was left behind by a big company.” ”
This week’s TransCanada section was compiled by Canadian news assistant Vajusa Asai in the New York Times.
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Ian Austin, a Toronto native of Windsor, Ontario, lives in Ottawa and has been reporting on Canada for the New York Times for the past 16 years. Follow her on Twitter ianrausten
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