Former Hudson’s Bay store in Winnipeg to be donated to Indigenous group

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The site will be transformed to include nearly 300 affordable housing units, a museum, art gallery and restaurants

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WINNIPEG — One of the flagship stores formerly operated by the Hudson’s Bay Company is about to undergo a major makeover in the name of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

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The company’s six-story, 655,000 square foot building in downtown Winnipeg is donated to the Southern Chiefs Organization, which represents 34 First Nations communities in Manitoba.

The site will be transformed to include nearly 300 affordable housing units, a museum, art gallery and restaurants.

There are also plans for a health center that will encompass both western and traditional medical practices.

The official announcement is expected on Friday in the presence of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

A Manitoba government source, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak officially, said the province would contribute $10 million to the initiative, with the federal government and Winnipeg City Hall participating. also.

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Today can be another step towards a better future, which reflects what our ancestors dreamed of,

jerry daniels

“Today can be another step towards a brighter future, one that reflects what our ancestors dreamed of,” Grand Chief Jerry Daniels of the Southern Chiefs Organization said in a press release Thursday.

“This project is an act of reconciliation and represents our vision to revitalize the heart of downtown Winnipeg, for the benefit of all.

The Winnipeg store was closed in November 2020, and municipal and provincial governments have been working to help find a new use for the site.

A major obstacle to any new development is the fact that the building is almost a century old, has achieved heritage status and requires major renovations.

The store opened in 1926 as the Hudson’s Bay Company evolved beyond its fur trading roots to become a retail giant. It was one of the company’s “first six” flagship stores, and its annual Christmas window displays on Portage Avenue drew crowds for decades.

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But it has suffered from changing consumer habits, and entire sections of the store have been closed over the years as the store has reduced operations.

Last year, the Manitoba government announced a $25 million trust fund to help preserve and improve the building. The government said the money could be used for a variety of purposes, including facade preservation, structural repairs and historical displays.

HBC had been in discussions with a number of organizations about the site’s potential future.

“HBC’s journey of truth and reconciliation requires actions that demonstrate our commitment to moving forward with Indigenous communities,” HBC Governor and Executive Chairman Richard Baker said Thursday.

“We believe SCO is the right steward for this location and can create a new community landmark that will help advance reconciliation.”

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