The City of Portage la Prairie is a community in need of stronger partnerships, better cooperation, and increased dialogue with its Urban Indigenous population.
The City Council of Portage la Prairie identified in its strategic plan that “Bridge Building with the Indigenous Community was a major strategic Priority”. Demographically the City of Portage la Prairie has a large Indigenous population that is projected to grow significantly over the next 20 years.
A few brief facts that indicate the need for greater partnerships are:
• The City of Portage has a significant Indigenous population of upwards of 23 percent (Stats Can, 2016)
• 50 percent of high school students in Portage la Prairie are Aboriginal, according to our local School Division
• We have three major First Nation partners in the immediate geographical area:
Dakota Tipi, Dakota Plain and Long Plain – First Nations that comprise the Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council
• The Portage MMF has one of the largest membership groups in all of MB, in addition to the membership group with Portage Friendship Centre
Portage la Prairie was successful under the Urban Programming for Indigenous People (UPIP) in recognizing the need to adopt an Urban Indigenous Strategy as well as recognizing the need in building a stronger partnership with its Urban Indigenous population. In September 2018, the Indigenous Community Coordinator position was created.
The responsibilities of the Indigenous Community Coordinator is to engage with the surrounding Indigenous Communities and the City of Portage la Prairie to assist in building a stronger partnership as well as work to identify how the City of Portage la Prairie can better serve and support the needs of its Urban Indigenous citizens. As a result, the need for an Urban Indigenous Coalition to be established was recognized.
The Portage Urban Indigenous Coalition (PUIPC) was created in effort to provide an environment for collaboration and increased dialogue for the Urban Indigenous people living in Portage la Prairie. This Coalition of community stakeholders have worked to create a Community Action Plan using feedback from the local Indigenous Community. The coalition meets monthly in city hall chambers.
The future initiatives and commitments of our Coalition will be:
• Partnering with the Indigenous peoples in creating an inclusive community that values and respects the diversity that exists in the City of Portage la Prairie
• To work with the Urban Indigenous peoples to identify and assist with the removal of barriers that hinder their full participation
• Our Youth and Elder Conference requested that we recognize the resourcefulness of Indigenous Youth and assist with the creation of opportunities that will encourage them to participate in building our community
• To work with the community to create a safe and welcoming environment that Indigenous peoples and our community will feel comfortable in
• Recognize and celebrate the valuable contributions Indigenous peoples have made and continue to make to our community
• To have a culture commemorating plaque on Wilkinson Crescent
• Working with Portage Heritage to include future streets to be named in relation to our aboriginal history
• Organize a cultural awareness week with the City and Portage School Division
• To host a mandatory cultural training session with the City of Portage la Prairie staff
• The development of a continuing document establishing the working relationship with our Indigenous Urban Organizations and surrounding First Nations
• Initiative to create Portages own Bear Clan
• Holding future engagement sessions. A place where individuals can greet, meet and share for future engagement sessions
Our Members in PUIPC are:
2 members of City Council
4 members of the community at large
1 member of the Manitoba Metis Federation-Portage
1 member of the Red River Community College
1 member of the RCMP
1 member of the Portage School Division
1 member of Portage Friendship Centre
1 member of Health Santé Sud
1 member of Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council
1 member of the Portage Community Revitalization Corporation
City Manager of Portage la Prairie
The Indigenous Community Coordinator