From left: Samson Cree Nation Chief Vernon Saddleback, CP Rail senior vice president of operations Scott MacDonald, Louis Bull Cree Nation Chief Irvin Bull and Ermineskin Cree Nation Chief Craig Makinaw. Photos by Emily Jaycox

CP Rail officially renames signs from “Hobbema” to “Maskwacis”

Change acknowledges true history of territory

It was a culturally and historically significant moment for the four Indigenous nations of Maskwacis on July 4 when Canadian Pacific Railway (CP Rail) executives came to the treaty six land to officially rename the railroad signage from “Hobbema” to “Maskwacis.”

Effective June 28, 2019, CP Rail officially renamed the CP station on its Leduc Subdivision to the traditional name of Maskwacis and the signage was replaced soon after.

The renaming ceremony and sign unveiling was held at Maskwa (Bear) Park, starting with a pipe ceremony before the formal speeches began.

Speeches were given by Ermineskin Cree Nation Chief Craig Makinaw, Samson Cree Nation Chief Vernon Saddleback, Louis Bull Cree Nation Chief Irvin Bull and CP Rail vice president of operations Scott MacDonald.

A representative for Montana Cree Nation Chief Standing on the Road was present.

Chief Makinaw says the renaming of the railway signs just further follows through with returning to the traditional name of Maskwacis.

Chief Saddleback spoke about how he didn’t know much about the history of the area growing up in Ermineskin. “Navarre” the name of a grain station stop between Wetaskiwin and Ermineskin, was just a train station to him.

When the Calgary and Edmonton Railway was built from 1890-91, communities along the railway line were named after the railway stations.

“Hobbema” was named after 16th century Dutch artist Meindert Hobbema, a landscape painter.

Now Saddleback wants to teach his children early on about the history of the area.

The four bands of Maskwacis officially requested the name change from Hobbema in 2013 and it was renamed in 2014.

READ MORE: Hobbema name change

Maskwacis is Cree for “Bear Hill.”

Chief Bull thanked the Creator for the day and all those who came out to the ceremony, and thanked the elder who conducted the pipe ceremony that morning.

He also acknowledged the grandfathers of the past that made an agreement with the railroad, that included an agreement that if the rail were ever to stop, the land would be returned to Maskwacis.

He added that a lot of people already know the area as Maskwacis and that it “follows suit with CP Rail doing the same, recognizing and acknowledging Maskwacis territory.”

“It’s our absolute honour to be here this morning,” said MacDonald.

MacDonald stated the acknowledgement of being on Treaty Six land and that the name of “Maskwacis” reflects the true heritage of the tribes and territory.

“We respect and acknowledge the history of Indigenous people and look forward to the opportunity for economic growth, development and employment.”

A sound clip of a train’s horn was played as the sign was unveiled in a humorous tribute to CP Rail, with the master of ceremonies joking it was CP’s anthem.

After the unveiling, gifts were exchanged between the dignitaries. CP Rail gifted the chiefs with blankets and the chiefs gave the CP Rail executives handcrafted beaded horses.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The unveiling of the new CP Rail sign for Maskwacis, to be installed July 8. From left, CP Rail senior vice president of operations Scott MacDonald, Ermineskin Cree Nation Chief Craig Makinaw, Samson Cree Nation Chief Vernon Saddleback and Louis Bull Cree Nation Chief Irvin Bull, pull the blanket off, revealing the new CP Rail sign.

The chiefs, CP Rail executives and other dignitaries dance in at the beginning of the renaming ceremony. Photos by Emily Jaycox

Just Posted

City of Red Deer down to one confirmed active case of COVID-19

18 new cases were confirmed across the province Saturday

Bentley teacher injects online lessons with fun and creativity

‘Howe’s Historical Moments’ makes learning that much more memorable for the youngsters

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The Rimbey Review covers the stories that matter to you and to our community

N.S. fire crews continue battling ‘out-of-control’ Porters Lake blaze

Word of the fire first emerged early Saturday afternoon

Technology, representation butt heads amid debate over resuming Parliament

The Liberals are now proposing four meetings a week until June 17

Procession for Snowbirds crash victim makes its way through Halifax

The 35-year-old military public affairs officer and Halifax native died in the crash

Who is at highest risk of exposure to COVID-19? Firefighters, drivers, pharmacists, cooks

Central Alberta firefighter says virus taking toll on mental health

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada as of May 23

There are 83,621 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada

Procession for Snowbirds crash victim to make its way through Halifax today

The military public affairs officer died in the Snowbirds Tutor jet crash in B.C. last Sunday

Employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

Only eight per cent of employers were fully prepared to restart operations, survey finds

Central Alberta woman recognized by province for making hospital gowns

Northern Lights Volunteer Recognition program honours Christine Engel

Most Read