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Returned land to be used for educational purposes.

Windspeaker Contributor

WINNIPEG

Empty warehouses and dilapidated garages might not look like a million dollars, but when the row of empty buildings and vacant lots is located on two hectares (five acres) of prime real estate river property in downtown Winnipeg, the value climbs.

Which makes the gift of this parcel of land particularly valuable to the First Nations of Canada since land-owner, Susan Scott, decided her family's property should be given back to the original owners, the Aboriginal people of Canada.

Scott's gift was actually offered to the Assembly of First Nations in 1994, but a ceremony to accept and acknowledge her generosity was held July 25 of this year. Former Grand Chief Ovide Mercredi said the enormity of this "gift of compassion" took some time to comprehend.

"This is a place where we can develop and grow, a place in the city that we can call our own."

The stretch of riverbank property is the last undeveloped piece of real estate on Tache Avenue in St. Boniface, Winnipeg's most historic neighborhood. Across the nearest intersection is St. Boniface Cathedral and the grave site of Metis leader, Louis Riel.

On the other side of the Red River is the Forks, Winnipeg's busiest tourist attraction, and directly across from the AFN's new property acquisition is the planned site for a new baseball stadium.

With neighbors like this bringing in a stream of tourists, any number of real estate development companies would have been more than happy with this parcel of valuable land.

But Susan Scott wants her family's land to be used "whatever way you as Aboriginal people see fit. The challenge is now yours -- enjoy."

A rock painting by artist Natalie Rostadt-Desjarlais which is displayed at the Westin Hotel was the beginning of a spiritual journey for Scott. Scott also receives teachings from Aboriginal Elders and others in the community.

"It is the simplicity of it all that makes it beautiful," Scott said.

The AFN has established the First Nations Education Trust Inc. to manage the property. The board will include First Nations representatives from across Canada. Suggested uses for the land include a language centre, educational facilities, and other developments. The trust is guided by a broad mandate to use the land for educational events that celebrate Native culture, language and history.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta (AMMSA)
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Weldman, Eva
Publication:Wind Speaker
Date:Sep 1, 1997
Words:384
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