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The City of Winnipeg strives to be a vibrant and healthy city which places its highest priority on quality of life for all its citizens.
The Indigenous Relations Division (IRD) was established in March 2013 and is housed in Corporate Support Services; who collaborates to build a skilled, diverse and healthy workforce, to develop innovative technology solutions, and to provide the best services and information for citizens.
IRD will strive to provide leadership and experiences from an Indigenous perspective on civic programs, services and initiatives that support and address the needs of Winnipeg's Indigenous community; now and into the future.
Internally we will work in partnership with departments to create and enhance civic practices and processes to increase access and opportunities for Winnipeg's Indigenous citizens.
Externally we will foster and enhance mutually beneficial relationships with Winnipeg's Indigenous community to strengthen our city.
Literacy and Life Long Learning: To promote, support and encourage participation in lifelong learning opportunities. Examples of services include:
- Indigenous Resource Collections
- "Wii ghoss (Birch Bark Centre)" and Ah kha koo gheesh (Groundhog Place ~ children emerge from learning) cultural learning spaces for children and adults
- First Nations, Métis and Inuit programming
Connect with information about First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Peoples at the library: Winnipeg Public Library Indigenous Info Guide.
Physical, Culture and Leisure: To ensure opportunities to participate in health and wellness activities that are available and accessible.
Employment and Employment Development: To provide employment based opportunities to participate in the Winnipeg economy, in order to create wealth and build assets.
Community Connections: To develop and maintain a positive connection with the Indigenous community by providing support and assistance required to be informed and engaged.
How We Do It
Oshki Annishinabe Nigaaniwak (OAN)
This innovative strategy is allocated $1 million annually and is designed to support Indigenous youth in accessing positive recreational, learning, wellness and employment opportunities in the community and civic system.
To be the first point of contact for the Indigenous community into the civic system and for departments to link back to the community.
To assist the City of Winnipeg to develop an urban Indigenous plan to become a municipal leader in Indigenous community relationships.
In July 2010, the Canadian, Provincial and Municipal government parties signed a Memorandum of Collaboration (MOC) to work together and better align resources to improve socio-economic outcomes for Indigenous peoples in Winnipeg and to improve the capacity of Indigenous organizations to carry out their mandates.
To support these efforts, Senior Officials established an Intergovernmental Strategic Indigenous Alignment (ISIA) Working Group to develop a five-year strategic plan. Representatives include:
- City of Winnipeg, Manager of Indigenous Relations
- Manitoba Indigenous and Municipal Relations, Director of Policy and Strategic Initiatives
- Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Manitoba Regional Director
In 2015, a final MOC Evaluation report was completed, which includes topics on project outcomes, effectiveness of the ISIA process and activities, and recommendations regarding the establishment of a potential successor agreement.
In 2015 the ISIA Working Group developed an Administrative Letter of Understanding with a supporting Statement of Work which outlines four priority areas, strategies and activities the group will collaborate on and have defined:
Welcoming Winnipeg: To create a welcoming environment in the City of Winnipeg, increase cultural awareness through highlighting Indigenous peoples’ roles and contributions in the evolution of the City of Winnipeg and engaging newcomers and visitors to build on lasting relationships for our shared future.
Urban Reserves: To support Indigenous Communities to develop Urban Reserves or Urban Economic Development Zones within the City of Winnipeg and to support the City of Winnipeg in its efforts to negotiate Municipal Development Service Agreements or MDSA’s with various First Nations.
Sustainable Livelihoods Model project: To update a current database of services accessed by Winnipeg’s Indigenous population, the project will examine and layer on demographic information to try to determine if the existing programs and services match where the Indigenous population of Winnipeg may be at. This information will increase knowledge about community programs and services for individuals, community organizations, and funders.
To assist the City of Winnipeg in exploring and identifying opportunities to collaborate in multi-level initiatives related to the urban Indigenous community.
Meet the Team
Each member of the team brings a unique professional and cultural perspective to the work of the Indigenous Relations Division. Our identities are as diverse as the Indigenous communities, nations, and families in-and-surrounding Winnipeg. This diversity motivates us to promote inclusive approaches and provide leadership and experience from an Indigenous perspective to support City of Winnipeg programs, services and initiatives. Through our roles in public service and pride as Indigenous people we are eager to serve and engage all citizens of Winnipeg, whether you have newly arrived or you share a long history with this land.
IRD Boardroom Mural
Brian Gasenzer, a local Winnipeg artist created this colorful mural in the City of Winnipeg's Indigenous Relations Division Boardroom. This mural, encompasses a vibrant symbolic creation of the First Nation, Inuit and Metis people. Brian, who works primarily with aerosol, acrylics and water colours has multiple murals around Winnipeg. He also enjoys spending time teaching and mentoring youth with his art.
The City of Winnipeg recognizes the importance of the original peoples - First Nations, Metis and Inuit - to the founding of our city. Each contributed culture, values and vision - contributions that will continue to be important to our shared future.
The Red and Assinboine rivers are well travelled, with their use as major transport routes dating as far back as 4000 BCE. For millennia, Ojibwa, Cree Assinboine and Dakota nations lived alongside and travelled through these waterways. It is from where these two rivers meet that Winnipeg (Cree for 'muddy waters') emerged to become a vibrant fishing, trading and farming economy. The arrival of newcomers to this territory over a century ago saw the original peoples share these lands, rivers, and resources. It's a relationship that to continues to this day.
The City of Winnipeg will honour this relationship by recognizing the significant contributions of Indigenous people while working to meet the common vision and needs articulated by all citizens, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike. Thse include calls to action in areas like community consultation, safety, housing and transportation.
Today, the vibrant, diverse people who make up the larger Indigenous community enrich and enliven the social fabric of Winnipeg: they remain vital to its economic and cultural future.
History and Previous City Initiatives
In 2000, Winnipeg endorsed the Maskwachees Declaration. This provided a commitment by the City to be a partner with the Indigenous community to reinforce traditional, cultural and spiritural values while addressing issues related to poverty, unemployment, training and education.
In 2001, Winnipeg City Council adopted its long-range policy document; "Plan Winnipeg 2020 Vision." Under Plan Winnipeg 2020 Vision, the City's obligation toward our Indigenous community is specific and unequivocal. Policy Statement 2A-03 requires the City to promote Self-Reliant Indigenous Communities by:
- Supporting the creation of links between the City of Winnipeg and Indigenous Communities to ensure appropriateness of services and to increase participation in City affairs;
- Identifying and pursuing joint ventures between the City and the private sector or non-governmental organizations that increase or enhance job opportunities and economic development for Indigenous people in Winnipeg; and
- Increasing awareness among Winnipeggers and visitors about the richness of the City's Indigenous Communities.
In 2002, The Aboriginal Employee Group (AEG) was established to provide information and leadership to the organization and employees on Indigenous issues and resources. First Nations, Metis and Inuit employees within the organization are invited to participate in the group. Non-Indigenous persons are invited to join as a Friend of AEG.
The vision of the AEG is to "provide a foundation of supports and resources available to new and current City of Winnipeg Indigenous employees" and the mission is to "partner with the City of Winnipeg employees to create a healthy work environment for all public servants."
In 2003, the First Steps: Municipal Aboriginal Pathways (MAP) was adopted; it was Council's foundational Aboriginal policy. MAP was intended as a secondary plan which identifies key strategic challenges which the City must address to meet the policy direction set out in Plan Winnipeg 2020. This involved implementing 15 initiatives in 5 policy pathways.
In 2008, the City of Winnipeg Mayor took the responsibility of Secretary of Urban Aboriginal Opportunities. This was a strong signal to the Indigenous community that the Mayor and Council were prioritizing the urban Indigenous community.
In 2008, City Council passed a motion to adopt the Aboriginal Youth Strategy. The key priorities, as identified with the community, are:
- Building and supporting healthy families;
- Economic development and employment development opportunities;
- Education and keeping children in school;
To give Indigenous youth positive opportunities in the community and civic system by bridging and providing culturally appropriate programs and supports related to employment, literacy and recreation to increase resiliency, self-sustainability, pride and future opportunities.
It has been funded at $1,000,000 per year since 2008.
In 2009, The City of Winnipeg was gifted the name Oshki Annishinabe Nigaaniwak for its Aboriginal Youth Strategy; which is Ojibway for Young Indigenous People Leading. For more details go to Naming Ceremony
In July 2010, the Government of Canada, Manitoba and Winnipeg signed a Memorandum of Collaboration (MOC) to work together on actions and mechanisms to improve the socio-economic outcomes for Indigenous people in Winnipeg and the capacity of Indigenous organizations. Through collaboration parties sought to align activities, resources and efforts to achieve the best possible outcomes.
In 2011 OurWinnipeg was adopted in with the City of Winnipeg. It recognizes the importance of the original peoples, First Nations, Metis and Inuit to the founding of our city. Each contributed cultures, values and vision - contributions that will continue to be important to our shared future.