Manitoba

Visitors get glimpse of plans for Kapyong Barracks during Indigenous day celebrations

The seven Treaty 1 First Nations taking over Kapyong Barracks gave a sneak peek at what they’ve got planned for what will be the city’s largest urban reserve as they celebrated National Indigenous Peoples Day at the site Friday.

Development of urban reserved discussed at event to mark National Indigenous Peoples Day

National Indigenous Peoples Day was celebrated at the former Kapyong Barracks in Winnipeg Friday. The event included dancing and gave the seven Treaty 1 First Nations taking over the former military base the chance to discuss their plans. (Adeline Bird/CBC)

The seven Treaty 1 First Nations taking over Kapyong Barracks gave a sneak peek at what they've got planned for what will be the city's largest urban reserve as they celebrated National Indigenous Peoples Day at the site Friday.

The First Nations reached an agreement in principle to take over the former military base a little over a year ago, following a decade-long legal battle between them and the federal government, which had planned to sell the land.

Peguis First Nation Chief Glenn Hudson said the urban reserve will be the largest in Canada.

"It's significant because we're looking at repatriating our lands in our traditional territory of Treaty 1," Hudson told CBC News at Friday's event. 

Peguis First Nation Chief Glenn Hudson says it was significant to mark National Indigenous Peoples Day at the future home of the city's largest urban reserve. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

"This tract of land represents a $2 billion investment, not only for our First Nations but an investment for Winnipeg and an investment for Manitoba an investment for people everywhere."

Around two-thirds of the abandoned military base is being developed by the Treaty 1 Development Corporation, and the rest of the property will be developed by Canada Lands Co., a Crown corporation.

Chiefs from Brokenhead Ojibway First Nation, Long Plain First Nation, Peguis First Nation, Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation, Sagkeeng First Nation, Sandy Bay First Nation and Swan Lake First Nation sit as directors of the Treaty 1 Development Corporation.

Information sessions were held during Friday's celebrations to give the public a look at what's to come at the property.

'A little city inside a big city'

A rendering sent to media shows the coveted real estate nestled between the affluent Tuxedo and River Heights residential areas may include a sports facility, hotel, convention centre, war museum and an Indigenous hospice. 

There's also green space as well as low, medium and high density residential areas that Long Plain First Nation Chief Dennis Meeches says will include condo developments, student and senior housing.

The rendering also shows nearly 20 commercial buildings lining the west end of Kenaston.

A rendering of preliminary plans for the development at Kapyong Barracks shows a mix of residential, commercial and public spaces. (Submitted photo from the Treaty 1 Development Corporation)

"It'll be in a lot of ways a little city inside a big city," Meeches said. 

"This is really unmatched anywhere in the country in terms of what could happen for economic growth, for Indigenous corporations, Indigenous entrepreneurs, Indigenous governments and more importantly the young people."

The first phase of development, around the Kenaston and Taylor Avenue intersection, may consist of a sports facility, hotel, convention centre and gas bar, the drawing suggests. Other recreational amenities include a running track and two baseball diamonds.

Meeches has previously told CBC News he wants the site to obtain reserve status and some form of development by Aug. 3, 2021, which is the 150th anniversary of Treaty 1.

Long Plain First Nation Chief Dennis Meeches says the urban reserve will include housing for students and seniors. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Kapyong was mostly abandoned in 2004, when the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry moved from the military barracks to the Canadian Forces Base in Shilo, Man.

The National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations started with a sunrise pipe ceremony, saw seven drums and seven tipis set up at the former military base, and include dance performances throughout the day.

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With files from Adeline Bird and Ian Froese

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