New Ward Names Celebrate the Indigenous History of Edmonton and Area
By Mary-Ann Thurber
The stories of Indigenous people and the lives they have lived in the North Saskatchewan River valley area are an important, but often forgotten, part of the history of Edmonton. In June 2020, when City Council was putting the finishing touches on the new ward boundaries for Edmonton, a group of Indigenous leaders asked the Council to highlight this neglected part of Edmonton’s history by giving the newly redrawn wards Indigenous names.
To make this happen, a group of 17 Indigenous women leaders were brought together and given six short weeks to recommend 12 new ward names to the City. The group called itself iyiniw iskwewak wihtwawin, or Indigenous Women’s MovementAction. The members of the committee represent the Anishinaabe, Blackfoot, Cree, Dene, Inuit, Iroquois, Métis and Nakota Sioux Nations who call Alberta home.
This group of women and matriarchs used ceremony, storytelling and consultation with elders to recommend names that would highlight the history of the many Indigenous nations that have lived in Edmonton for thousands of years. The new ward boundaries and ward names were confirmed by City Council on December 7.
The ward that houses the Stony Plain Road Business Association will carry the name Nakota Isga, a Sioux word meaning “the people.” Pronounced NA-KOH-TAH EESKA, the word highlights the history of the Alexis Nakota Sioux (Nakota Isga, or Stoney in English) people who settled on the shores of Lake Wakamne (Lac St. Anne). A fur trading people, the Nakota Isga are the most northern speakers of the Siouxian language, and they have proudly retained their cultural identity as a Nakota nation.
There are many fascinating and powerful stories behind each of the 12 ward names that have been gifted to the City of Edmonton. For more information, audio pronunciations and the stories behind each of the names, please visit edmonton.ca/ IndigenousWardNames.