Saskatchewan

Referral motion triggered for application to demolish heritage site connected to Louis Riel

A referral motion has been triggered for an application to demolish a downtown heritage site connected to Louis Riel.

Métis Nation–Saskatchewan area director says community should have been consulted earlier

Regina's planning commission announced two calls to action to help them further assess the situation. (CBC)

The Regina planning commission has released a referral motion in regards to a demolition request for the site where Louis Riel's body was once kept.

The referral motion from planning commission member and city councillor Shanon Zachidniak says that a redevelopment plan for the site is needed for the commission to make a final decision.

The motion also said the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan should be engaged in conversations about the site from this point on.

Wendy Gervais, the MN-S area director for Western Region 3, says the community should have been part of the conversation from the beginning.

"I have heard nothing about it until the article came out in the paper and community members are calling me trying to find out more information. And so, right now I'm on a little bit of an information hunt," Gervais said.

"At the very least we should have been contacted, even for information purposes. We shouldn't have to as a community read in the newspaper and all over the internet of this event, of this building being torn down."

The Burns Hanley Building is a heritage property at 1863 Cornwall Street. It was the former location of the 1883 St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church. This was the church where Louis Riel's body was briefly kept after his execution before it was sent to Winnipeg. (CBC)

Métis Nation–Saskatchewan has also released a statement highlighting the cultural significance of the building.

"Louis Riel is central to Métis history, culture, and tradition in this country. He stood and fought for the rights of Métis people with integrity throughout his life. The fact that he died for those actions in this province and was initially interred at St. Mary's Church should play into this site's future.

"It was not Louis Riel's final resting place, but his legacy in this province and Métis people across Canada should be honoured.

"Métis Nation–Saskatchewan (MN–S) is pleased to be consulted on the future of this site, and we hope there is enough time to have a meaningful discussion surrounding the importance of Louis Riel's legacy in Saskatchewan. If demolition is the only alternative, MN–S appreciates the opportunity to have input on the type of commemoration that would befit the man and his legacy."

The planning commission heard from a spokesperson for the owner of the building, the Harvard Developments Corporation. The spokesperson said the building is a safety risk and needs to demolished quickly.

She also said she consulted a Métis person who said that the building has no cultural significance.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adeoluwa Atayero is a reporter for CBC News based in Saskatchewan. Before moving to Canada, Atayero worked as reporter, content manager and communications consultant in Lagos, Nigeria. He holds a masters in journalism from the University of Regina. @theadeatayero

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