New Project Images Reveal Significant Transformation
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 30, 2023
ANISHINAABE AND DAKOTA TERRITORY, MB — The landmark HBC building in downtown Winnipeg has officially been transferred to the Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO). On behalf of 34 Anishnaabe and Dakota Nations in southern Manitoba, SCO is very pleased to share new details and images related to the transformation of this iconic structure, which is situated at the corner of Portage Avenue and Memorial Boulevard in Treaty One territory.
“The formal transfer of the HBC building to SCO on the Wehwehneh Bahgahkinahgohn project is a monumental moment for southern First Nations,” stated SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. “While there is much work ahead to transform the space, this building will become home to hundreds of families with childcare and a health and healing centre on site, as well as a spectacular museum, restaurants, a place of commemoration to honour Survivors, and so much more. This journey is an essential step towards reconciliation.”
In spring 2022, SCO welcomed HBC Governor Richard Baker and Prime Minister Trudeau to our territory and together with southern Chiefs, the Premier, the Mayor, and community leaders, announced plans to transform the HBC heritage building into a space that offers opportunities for economic and social reconciliation. SCO and HBC have worked closely since the announcement to ensure the transfer. Wehwehneh Bahgahkinahgohn, or ‘it is visible,’ will revitalize the HBC building while preserving its important heritage and helping to revive Winnipeg’s downtown.
“HBC is incredibly proud to advance our journey with SCO and reach this milestone, where we officially transfer ownership of the building,” said Richard Baker, Governor, HBC. “We remain committed partners to SCO as they work to realize their incredible vision for this new space, and hope that others are inspired to take meaningful action toward reconciliation in their own way.”
SCO has issued a Request for Qualifications to begin the redevelopment using a competitive process ensuring the best value for the project, which is the largest redevelopment of an historic building in Manitoba, and one of the largest projects of its kind in Canada. SCO is aiming to reopen the building in November 2026, the same month the building turns 100 years old.
“The Wehwehneh Bahgahkinahgohn project means this 655,000 square-foot building in the heart of Winnipeg will once again become a hub for economic development and a place to gather and build community,” said Lake Manitoba First Nation Chief Cornell McLean. “Our ancestors have taught us to do things with care and without compromise. In four years, we will unveil something truly transformative. This step towards economic reconciliation will have a positive impact on all residents of Manitoba and beyond.”
Almost 100 years ago, the construction of the HBC building at 450 Portage Avenue took 300 men, 120 teams of horses, 20 trucks, and two steam shovels to excavate 150,000 tons of earth to lay the foundation of the store. At the time of its opening in 1926, the structure, designed by Canadian architect Ernest Isbell Barrott, was the largest reinforced concrete building in Canada, with more than six hectares of floor space.
The Wehwehneh Bahgahkinahgohn project plans include more than 300 affordable housing units for families and post-secondary students, and culturally safe assisted living units for First Nation Elders. Families living in the building and employees who work there will also have access to much needed high-quality, licensed childcare and a rooftop garden.
The improvement of First Nation peoples’ health and wellness is also incorporated, with a health and healing centre that embraces both western and traditional practices. The historic building will also become the future Governance House for the Chiefs of the southern First Nations, the voice for 34 Anishinaabe and Dakota Nations in the Territory now known as Manitoba.
The main floor will be dedicated public space where all Manitobans, Canadians, and tourists from around the globe can come together to experience a world class museum that shares the history of the Anishinaabe and Dakota peoples, in part through artifacts reclaimed from Vatican vaults. There will also be much needed space for ceremony and commemoration, through a memorial to honour the Survivors of residential and day schools and the children who did not return home.
“The long-term benefits of this project are immeasurable. Once again, I extend our deep appreciation to Governor Baker and HBC for gifting us this beautiful building and to our Treaty partners who continue to demonstrate their commitment to reconciliation,” stated Grand Chief Daniels. “When we officially cut the ribbon, we will all look on with pride as we take a giant step towards a promising and bright future for our people—a future our ancestors could only dream of.”
Visit SCO’s website for more details and to view the new images that provide a visual for SCO’s vision for the historic transformation of the HBC building.
The Southern Chiefs’ Organization represents 34 First Nations and more than 83,000 citizens in what is now called southern Manitoba. SCO is an independent political organization that protects, preserves, promotes, and enhances First Nations peoples’ inherent rights, languages, customs, and traditions through the application and implementation of the spirit and intent of the Treaty-making process.
HBC is a holding company of investments and businesses at the intersection of technology, retail operations, and real estate. It is the majority owner of iconic e-commerce companies: Saks, a leading online destination for luxury fashion; The Bay, a Canadian e-commerce marketplace; and Saks OFF 5TH, a premier luxury off-price e-commerce company offering top brands at the best prices. These businesses were established as separate operating companies in 2021. HBC also wholly owns Hudson’s Bay, the operating company for Hudson’s Bay’s brick-and-mortar stores, as well as SFA, the entity that operates Saks Fifth Avenue’s physical locations, and O5, the operating company for Saks OFF 5TH stores.
With assets spanning top markets and prime locations across North America, HBC owns or controls—either entirely or with joint venture partners—approximately 42 million square feet of gross leasable area. HBC Properties and Investments, the company’s real estate and investments portfolio business manages these assets along with additional real estate offerings, including Streetworks Development, its property development division.
Founded in 1670, HBC is North America’s longest continually operating company and is headquartered in New York and Toronto. For more information visit: www.hbc.com.
For Hudson’s Bay: