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iyiniw iskwewak wihtwawin

Indigenous Elders and urban Indigenous community members approached City Council to consider renaming Edmonton’s newly amended wards with Indigenous names. On June 16, 2020, Council directed Administration and the Naming Committee of Council to explore new Indigenous names and return in the fall.

Edmonton has been a gathering place for Indigenous Peoples for thousands of years. iyiniw iskwewak wihtwawin (the committee of Indigenous matriarchs) have gifted traditional names to the City’s naming committee to honour these sacred places in Edmonton and to preserve the history for future generations. 

Ward Boundary Review 
The City of Edmonton Ward Boundary and Council Composition Bylaw (including the Indigenous Ward Names) will come to Council for 2nd and 3rd reading of the bylaw in December.

Led by women 

Indigenous cultures traditionally uphold women as leaders in their communities, which is why they were chosen to lead this initiative. This is an opportunity for reconciliation for matriarchs to reclaim their roles within the community.

The committee is made up of 17 women from First Nations in Treaty No. 6, 7, 8, as well as Métis and Inuit representatives. They represent the Anishinaabe, Blackfoot, Cree, Dene, Inuit, Iroquois (Michel Band), Métis and Sioux nations.

Nakota Isga (1)

Indigenous language of origin: Sioux
Meaning: The People. The Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation is the most northwestern representative of the Siouan language family 

Pronunciation: NAH-KOH-TAH  EE-SKA

Anirniq (2)

Indigenous language of origin: Inuktun
Meaning: Breath of Life. Honours history of the Inuit who received treatment at the Charles Camsell Hospital

Pronunciation: A-NIRK-NIK

tastawiyiniwak (ᑕᐢᑕᐃᐧᔨᓂᐊᐧᐠ) (3)

Indigenous language of origin: Cree
Meaning: The In-between People. Honours those who moved between gender roles and the LGBTQ2s community.

Pronunciation: TASS-TAW-EE-YIN-EE-WOK

Dene (4)

Indigenous language of origin: Dene
Meaning: People of land and water. Refers to the various tribes that settled along the North Saskatchewan River - including Edmontonians who have settled and live here now.

Pronunciation: DEH-NEY

O-day’min (5)

Indigenous language of origin: Anishinaabe
Meaning: Strawberry or Heart-berry (The heart through which the North Saskatchewan River runs). Historical hub for many nations to meet and trade.

Pronunciation: OH-DEY-MIN

Métis (6)

Indigenous language of origin: Michif
Meaning: Given the history of the area and the use of the Riverlot system in this ward, a Métis name was chosen.The Métis trace their descendents to both Indigenous North Americans and European settlers.

Pronunciation: MAY-TEA

sipiwiyiniwak (7)

Indigenous language of origin: Enoch Cree
Meaning: References the people of the Enoch Cree Nation being River Cree. In the past they were known as River Cree by other tribes.

Pronunciation: SEE-PEE-WIN-EE-WOK

papastew (8)

Indigenous language of origin: papaschase
Meaning: papastew was a highly respected leader of the papaschase Band #136 and signed an adhesion to Treaty 6 in 1877. papastew translates to large woodpecker.

Pronunciation: PAH-PAH-STAY-OH

pihêsiwin (9)

Indigenous language of origin: Cree
Meaning: Pays respect to the Thunderbird. This ward, from an aerial view, is shaped like a pihêsiw (thunderbird) and contains a ceremonial site.

Pronunciation: PAY-HE-SEE-WIN

Ipiihkoohkanipiaohtsi (10)

Indigenous language of origin: Blackfoot
Meaning: Traditional lands where the Blackfoot Nation performed Buffalo Rounds. It is known that bison would migrate up to 300 kilometres north of the North Saskatchewan River to the safety of artesian wells to gather for the winter.

Pronunciation: E-PEE-KO-KA-KNEE-PIU-TSI-YA

Karhiio (11)

Indigenous language of origins: Mohawk (Michel First Nation)
Meaning: A tall, beautiful forest in the Mohawk language. Michel Karhiio was the Chief of the Michel Band that was enfranchised in 1958. Where the town of Calahoo is now located.

Pronunciation: GAR-EE-HE-O

Sspomitapi (12)

Indigenous language of origin: Blackfoot
Meaning: Sspomitapi means star person and was given in honour of the Iron Creek Meteorite or the Mintou Stone. The stone was shared by all tribes and was a place the Blackfoot would travel to and perform ceremony before the rock was taken in the 1800's by missionaries. It today is located at the Royal Alberta Museum.

Pronunciation: SS-POW-ME-TAH-PEE

Choosing the Names

The naming process began in ceremony and took guidance in ceremony as the group determined it was needed. 

During the process of deliberating over names, the committee members reached out to Elders and other members of their communities for guidance and input. The historical and cultural meaning of names is very important to the committee members, as it is their desire that each name should reflect Indigenous connections to the land in each ward.

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