The area formerly knows as South Point has been officially named Niizhoziibean (phonetically pronounced Nee-zho-zhi-been and meaning two rivers in Ojibway) to honour our city’s Indigenous heritage and its prominent place alongside the Red and Assiniboine Rivers.
Elders, Clarence and Barbara Nepinak, uncovered the name during a traditional naming ceremony in August of 2018.
Niizhoziibean not only embodies the spirit of the traditional past of The Forks but enhances our understanding of what this place means – a collaborative space where people have been coming together to trade, grow, and make life for millennia.
Niizhoziibean is currently undergoing a refurbishment that prompted the search for its historical name. The space, set aside to honour Indigenous themes since the inception of The Forks, is intended to be a place of reflection for all visitors and a connector to other neighbourhoods via a Main Street entryway.
Niizhoziibean is part of a pedestrian loop connecting The Forks and St. Boniface and linked to the Taché Promenade redevelopment plans. The two projects reflect the vision outlined in the 20-year vision document Go to the Waterfront prepared by The Forks and endorsed by the City of Winnipeg in 2014.
Further plans for the Niizhoziibean site redevelopment will:
- preserve the existing forested South Point across the Historic Rail Bridge
- improve the pathway for universal accessibility
- relocate trees for a reconfigured character pathway
- include a drum park ceremonial space
- improve lighting
- restore native plants
- install interpretive elements to recognize the Indigenous history
Future phases, requiring fundraising, will include an outdoor bush gallery and boardwalk within the forest canopy.