Reconstructing public history through European settler and Indigenous heritage and landscape

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City planners and civic officials are delving into the implementation of actions for truth and reconciliation following the 2015 report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Dolores Hayden reminds us that when read as stories of our city-region’s public memory, the landscape, with built, natural, cultural, and spiritual dimensions, can tie our individual identities into something larger, a community that has a powerful sense of place. This paper draws on archival research and site visits to understand the built, natural, and cultural heritage on an 11-hectare site in the city of Saskatoon, Canada, that was part of the Plains First Nations territory for thousands of years, followed by the Métis nation, European settler homesteads, later as a leisure space for urbanites in a growing city, then as a retreat for Catholic religious orders of Sisters. For the past 12 years, it has remained closed to the public, fenced off and awaiting re-imagination and re-use by a local conservation organization, the Meewasin Valley Authority. This paper concludes with recommendations on how to use the thousands of years, eras, and worldviews behind the heritage of the site to create a powerful place for urban truth and reconciliation.
heritage, city-region, settler, Indigenous