Winnipeg's Lizzie Park officially renamed after 'remarkable' Indigenous activist Leslie Spillett
Point Douglas Coun. Mike Pagtakhan brought motion to rename Centennial neighbourhood park in June
The former Lizzie Park in Winnipeg's Centennial neighbourhood has been renamed in honour of prominent Indigenous activist Leslie Spillett.
On Friday, the park was officially renamed Giizhigooweyaabikwe Park, for Spillett's traditional name — an Anishinaabemowin word that means "ribbons in the sky" or Painted Sky Woman (and is pronounced GAY-zhee-GUHK-wab-EE-kway, Spillett said).
"I'm nobody special. I'm just an ordinary person," Spillett said Friday. "But I know that ordinary people do extraordinary things."
Spillett is the founder and executive director of Ka Ni Kanichihk, which provides programs and services to Indigenous people in Winnipeg's inner city.
She's also been an advocate for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and started the Keeping the Fires Burning fundraiser, which supports efforts to preserve Indigenous traditional knowledge.
She said when she got the call advising her about the plan to change the park's name, she told the city she wanted it to bear her traditional name, in Anishinaabemowin.
"It was beautiful, for me, to know that we could have a space where our children could come here and look at an Anishinaabe name and see themselves reflected in that name," she said.
"And maybe encourage them along the way to learn their language if they don't know their language, and also to get their name if they don't have a name."
The park is at 242 Lizzie St., bordered by Logan and Alexander avenues and Fountain and Lizzie streets.
Point Douglas Coun. Mike Pagtakhan brought the motion to rename Lizzie Park in Spillett's honour in June.
On Friday, he said he remembers bringing his children to play at the park when they were young, and revitalizing it was one of the issues that prompted him to run for city council in the first place.
Pagtakhan said Spillett is a "remarkable" activist, and he was excited to have a park named in an Indigenous language.
"After some practice, it's not that difficult to say — and it's a great name."