‘The name brings disgrace to the neighbourhood’: review underway to rename a Winnipeg park

WINNIPEG –

A St. Boniface park could be getting a name change as its current one has been deemed offensive to Indigenous people in an application to the Welcoming Winnipeg Committee.

Papoose Park, located at 100 Comanche Road in the Niakwa Park neighbourhood, is at the centre of the conversation, with the name “Papoose” considered an Indigenous slur by the applicant.

“The name brings disgrace to the neighbourhood and the City,” reads the answer to an application question on the potential negative impact on the community.

“The word papoose is now considered offensive. At the time of the park’s naming, it was unsure but as time evolves, we must keep up with updates. This name is no longer suitable.”

The application quotes the Miriam Webster Dictionary’s definition of “papoose.”

The word dates back to 1634, and is defined as the young child of American Indian parents.

It has also been used to describe a baby carrier that usually consists of a cloth pouch, wrap, or sling for wearing around the torso. While the second definition isn’t always considered offensive, it can be due to its association with the original definition.

The Welcoming Winnipeg initiative is part of the city’s ongoing reconciliation efforts. Its goal is to ensure that all contributions, experiences, and perspectives are reflected truthfully.

Part of the initiative includes the Reconciling Our History Policy, which guides possible changes to place names and historical marker decisions to better reflect Indigenous perspectives.

Most recently, the city embarked on changing the name Bishop Grandin Boulevard, whose namesake is considered by many to be an architect of Canada’s residential school system.

“Our Welcoming Winnipeg initiative is going to continue to look at names in our community. They do matter,” said Mayor Brian Bowman on Thursday.

No new name alternatives were submitted with the proposal to rename Papoose Park, but it did recommend a ceremony with Indigenous elders and residents to come up with a name collaboratively.

The renaming proposal is currently before a Welcoming Winnipeg committee who will assess it and then submit a report to city council for approval.

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