Chief Mistawasis Bridge officially opens in Saskatoon
- Andrea Ledding | October 03, 2018
Chief Mistawasis Bridge opened in Saskatoon on October 2nd, connecting Wanuskewin Road and the north end of the city with north-east suburbs such as Evergreen, Willowgrove, and University Heights. The bridge name, which was chosen through committees and extensive community consultation as an act of reconciliation, was celebrated by the community of Mistawasis in many ways, including a lance run by youth from Mistawasis to the bridge over two days and 110 kilometres.
“We thought and debated about which name would be the best one to recognize this time we’re in of reconciliation,” said Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark. “And in the end Chief Mistawasis Bridge best captured this, he was one of the lead negotiators of Treaty Six, was a key player with a vision for the future, and now his name will be forever associated with the city of Saskatoon.”
The day began with a pipe ceremony on the riverbank led by William Duquette, using the Treaty 6 pipe. As a crowd gathered, horse riders, wagons, dignitaries, the youth lance runners, and a semi-trailer bed full of dancers with a drum group descended directly from Mistawasis led a parade across the traffic bridge to kick off the official opening ceremonies. Premier Scott Moe, Mayor Charlie Clark, Saskatoon Tribal Chief Mark Arcand, Mistawasis Chief Darryl Watson, Central Urban Metis Federation President Shirley Isbister, and Residential School survivor Frank Badger were among the dignitaries who spoke, along with MC Eugene Arcand. Partners alongside the City of Saskatoon included the Province of Saskatchewan and the Federal Government, which was completed by Graham Commuter Projects on-time and on-budget.
“It’s truly an honour to be here today. It’s a celebration of answering a call to action. But as I look around, I think it’s a celebration of Saskatoon,” said Isbister, after noting that the youth and children were the most important guests, as the future who were going to change the future of our city and the world. “When you look around at the people beside you and all the diversity, that has to make us proud, we’re interacting, we’re moving forward, and in the spirit of reconciliation, this is just one part of what we’re doing.”
She acknowledged the contributions of the late Elder Walter Linklater, who took the name to ceremony before passing on, and Elder Maria Linklater has continued to support the long journey of the project and process, which tied the names to the TRC calls to action.
“When you look at the [Treaty 6 and Métis] flags hanging there on the bridge, those will hang there forever,” added Isbister.
“Everyone has a story to go home and tell, that these young people from Mistawasis took it upon themselves, for their language, their culture, their identity to do something significant,” said Arcand gesturing to the youth in front of the stage, as the lance-carrier raised the lance. “If you want to know what that lance means, come and ask, they’ll gladly share...we need to celebrate days like this. Saskatoon is leading the way in reconciliation.”
Chief Watson commended the 18 Mistawasis youth for continuing their run-in adverse weather, and noted to applause “at some point down the line we’re going to see a First Nations person lead this country, as part of true reconciliation.” He added that proper infrastructure was key to helping First Nations communities — health, education, housing, water — and that would continue to be a huge part of true reconciliation as well.
“Chief Mistawasis was a visionary, in the sense he knew what was going to happen 142 years down the future,” Watson added.
Commemorative Treaty 6 and Métis medallions were then handed out.