Saskatoon reveals shortlist of Indigenous-focused names for north commuter bridge

The north commuter bridge will be given one of four names: Chief Mistawasis, Louis Riel, Waniskâ, or the Wîcîhitowin Bridge.

The finalist names for the under-construction bridge were selected from 461 submissions

The North Commuter Parkway in Saskatoon. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC)

A shortlist of possible names for Saskatoon's under-construction north commuter bridge is ready for public consideration.

The four names being put forth are: the Chief Mistawasis (miss-tuh-WA'-sis), Louis Riel, Waniskâ (WOHN'-skuh), or the Wîcîhitowin (wee-chee-HEE'-toh-win) Bridge.

"Our aim is to encourage respectful dialogue and conversation within our community, and bring a greater awareness and understanding of Aboriginal history and culture," Shirley Isbister, president of the Central Urban Métis Federation said in a news release.

The proposed names were selected by a group of Indigenous elders and residential school survivors, from among 461 submissions that had been sent in to the city.

The city had asked for the submissions to either acknowledge an Indigenous historical event or figure, or to embody the spirit of community, coming together or connection. The decision to focus on Indigenous history was made as part of the city's response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action.

Meanings behind 4 names

The meanings behind the four choices were presented in video form at the Roxy Theatre on Tuesday afternoon. Louis Riel was a Métis man who led the Resistance of 1885 and Chief Mistawasis — the head of the Prairie Tribe — signed Treaty 6 in 1876.  The Cree word Waniskâ means "to arise" while the Cree word Wîcîhitowin means "to help mutually" or "the act of helping one another."

Saskatoon residents will be able to choose their favourite name, either online or through a number of upcoming free community screenings before March 31. The final recommendation will go before city council in May.

The north commuter bridge is under construction, with an expected completion date in October.