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New HBC Building given up as reconciliation to the First Nations People’s for their past with The Residential School System

On April 22, 2022 Justin Trudeau in association with the Hudson Bay Company proposed a plan to turn one of their bay buildings into a monument to the indigenous community. The project is titled Wehwehneh Bahgahkinahgohm or “‘it is visible” will feature a museum and live art gallery dedicated to the First Nations community and will aim to educate Canadians on the struggles of that community including the past trauma’s of the Residential School system that displaced thousands of First nations people and took children from their homes to be placed in residential schools. These children faced abuses at the hands of those who ran the schools and also left a lasting impact on the lives of the First nation communities whom had to send their children away at the behest of the government.

The Southern Chief’s Organization (SCO) announced that the project that will be a economic reconciliation project will use the HBC Heritage Building in downtown Winnipeg as the space to showcase the rich history and trials of the First Nations people that has spanned the last 350 years.

HBC is giving the Hudson’s Bay flagship store in downtown Winnipeg to an Indigenous organization. The store closed in November 2020.

The President and Ceo of the Bay Iain Nairn gave the following statement following the public announcement of the project:

A message from Iain Nairn To our community: As Canada’s oldest company, we have a responsibility to acknowledge our colonial history and to take meaningful steps toward reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and communities. I’m very pleased to share one of the many steps we are taking in our Truth and Reconciliation journey. Today, HBC gifted in ceremony the Downtown Winnipeg Hudson’s Bay building to the Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO). On this historic day, Grand Chief Jerry Daniels, together with HBC Governor Richard Baker, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and others, unveiled a visionary plan to turn the building into a space for economic and social reconciliation, that will begin to tell a new story for First Nations, for HBC, and for Canada. Wehwehneh Bahgahkinahgohn, or ‘it is visible’, is an SCO project that will give new life to the Bay building, including a place of reflection to honour residential and day school Survivors and the children who did not make it home. It will also create social and economic opportunity, including significant long-term employment and over one million working hours during the construction phase, putting people back to work after the COVID-19 pandemic. Once complete, the building will become a key draw for the celebration of First Nation heritage and culture with a museum and living art gallery, and will include hundreds of housing units, a portion of which will be culturally safe assisted living units to begin to address the shortage of appropriate accommodation for First Nation Elders. Families that live in the building and employees who work there will also have access to much needed high-quality, licensed child care built on the language nest model. Today is a proud moment, but there is more to do. We are continuing to build on this work, with guidance from Indigenous communities, to ensure we are inclusive and purposeful in our actions and reconciliation with all Indigenous Peoples. To learn more about the project, visit
Sincerely, Iain Nairn
President & CEO, The Bay

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