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Central Park could be getting a new name

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One of Winnipeg’s oldest parks could be getting a new name.

Community organizations are asking the city to change the name of Central Park, replacing it with an Indigenous name as a step towards reconciliation and decolonization.

For over a century, Central Park has served as a recreational hub for thousands in the heart of the city.

“It has a deep attachment to Winnipeg’s inner city and the downtown as an important place,” said Jino Distasio, an urban geography professor at the University of Winnipeg.

From splash pads to green space, the park offers something for everyone, including newcomer families.

“It really is like the first home for many people that arrive in Winnipeg,” said Val Cavers, Mosaic Newcomer Family Resource Network’s executive director.

Cavers is one of the people who put forward the request to change Central Park’s title, under the city’s “Welcoming Winnipeg: Reconciling Our History” Policy. It aims to promote decolonization in community spaces.

“Make sure that the message of what’s happened in the past and the message of reconciliation is transferred to new people that are arriving in Canada,” saidCavers.  

While a new name hasn’t been announced yet, Cavers said sheand other organizations are looking forward to having an Indigenous name gifted to the park, based on languages originally spoken on the grounds.

“Everyone would understand that seeing your language is a powerful symbol of personhood,” Cavers said. “And so we want to be a part of that action.”

But some people believe the process should involve better planning.

“I would rather start with a proposal for a specific name and then have the conversation around it, rather than just say, ‘We’re going to rename the park,’” said Jeff Browaty, the city councillor for North Kildonan.

Other community organizations said the challenges the park faces are a bigger priority.

“The addictions and mental health issues, that goes with the community,” said Frederick Thomas, a coordinator with Central Park Foot Patrol. “And we try to help out as many people as we can out there.”

Kevin Walker, the executive director of Bear Clan Patrol, said funds can also be better allocated to support the community members directly.

“We could do a lot of good with some of the money that’s going to be needed to change just the name of Central Park,” he said. “I think, leave the name and increase some of the resources available to the community members…That would be ideal.”

The city has been receiving input on the name change since March.

For those interested in providing feedback, the city’s website is accepting suggestions until Apr.10.

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