Some Canadian Indigenous See Hudson’s Bay Building as Hollow Gift – The New York Times

by ahnationtalk on May 29, 2023138 Views

Near the old perfume counters on the ground floor of the Hudson’s Bay department store in Winnipeg, Canada, a trade dripping with symbolism took place.

The 39th “governor” of Hudson’s Bay — North America’s oldest company and one of Canada’s most iconic — accepted from an Indigenous leader two beaver pelts and two elk hides in exchange for the building, the company’s onetime Canadian flagship.

The ceremony took place a year ago when Hudson’s Bay, the company once chartered to found the colony that became part of Canada, gave away its shuttered, 600,000-square-foot, six-floor downtown building to a group of First Nations. But what seemed like an act of reconciliation has become a subject of intense debate as the building’s worth and the cost of transforming it have become clearer: Was this a real gift or an empty one?

The gift of the building has focused attention on the evolving relationship between Hudson’s Bay and Indigenous people in Canada, as well as their central role in the history of a country founded on the fur trade between them and the company.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and others who attended the ceremony praised the transfer of the building as an act of reconciliation between Canada and its oppressed Indigenous population. But with the ceremony’s feel-good effects dissipating, the details of the deal are raising questions about economic fairness as Canada works to achieve reconciliation with its Indigenous communities.

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