Winnipeg looking at recommendations for renaming Bishop Grandin Boulevard

The City of Winnipeg continues to progress on a plan that would rename Bishop Grandin Boulevard and all other city entities that bear the Bishop Grandin name.

The city said it has forwarded recommendations made by their Indigenous Relations Division (IRD) on renaming Bishop Grandin Boulevard, as well as Bishop Grandin Trail, and Grandin Street in Winnipeg.

Those recommendations have been submitted for consideration and will be heard at the city’s Executive Policy Committee (EPC) on Monday.

Calls for the name changes have grown louder in Winnipeg recently, as the city says society has “reconsidered” in recent years the legacy of Bishop Vital Grandin, a man who has been referred to as one of the “architects” of the residential school system in Canada.

Indigenous communities across Canada have been conducting ground searches for unmarked graves near former residential schools over the last approximately two years, since what are believed to be 215 unmarked graves of children were discovered near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., in May of 2021.

In Manitoba, searches have taken place and some continue in several First Nations communities, including the Sagkeeng First Nation, the Sandy Bay First Nation, and the Pine Creek First Nation.

The IRD, according to the city, worked with Indigenous elders, residential school survivors, knowledge keepers, and youth to discuss and propose new names that they said would “honour Indigenous experience, culture, and history.”

The proposed changes would rename Bishop Grandin Boulevard as Abinojii Mikanah, and the adjacent Bishop Grandin Trail renamed Awasisak Mēskanow. Those terms mean “children's road” in Ojibway and Cree respectively.

They are also proposing that Grandin Street in Winnipeg be renamed Taapweewin Way, with Taapweewin meaning “truth” in the Michif language.

Elder Frank Beaulieu, who took part in a Naming Circle and in discussions regarding the name changes, said he and others wanted the new names to represent and honour children who were forced into residential schools and those who did not make it back to their homes and their families.

“It was at the time of the discovery of the 215 children. As we sat together as knowledge keepers at the workshop when they asked my spirit, I thought of, and in clarity, that it would be named Abinojii Mikanah (Children’s Roadway),” Beaulieu said in the city’s media release.

The renaming is now on the agenda for Monday's EPC meeting, and if approved by EPC it would go to city council for final approval before the end of the month.

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun