The YW Hub Facility: A Place That's Bringing Everything Together
Excerpt of speech from remarks given by Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra
What a good day.
I'm here as the Deputy Mayor on behalf of my colleagues on City Council, who, to a man and woman are massively supportive of what's happening right here and we'll talk about some of the city support that's flowing into this YW Hub Facility project a little bit later in my remarks.
I usually come third or fourth in these speaking engagements so I get to play the “colour commentary role”. Today, I think Minister Sigurdson and my dear neighbor, the Minister of Finance, Joe Ceci, did a great job of laying out this YW Hub Facility project.
The first thing I want to do is thanks Minister Sigurdson for acknowledging that this is Treaty 7 land. I am extremely proud of the work that the City of Calgary is doing right now with respect to Truth and Reconciliation, and our work in that regard is really about reclaiming and reinterpreting the origin story of this city.
We're sitting where 17 Avenue SE collides with 9 Avenue SE in an awkward triangle. It's a happenstance sort of urbanism. The backstory is this is from the 1865 Dominion Land Survey, when Palliser was sent out to figure out how, and what, was out here in St. Rupert's Land so that the country of Canada (which was anticipated at that point in time) would be able to claim dominion over all of this land.
Next to 17 Avenue SE is a pathway of traditional movement through this landscape for people who came long before 1865. Part of the city's work and city's significant contribution - a million dollars - to this space, is to rectify how these two avenues comes together right where this building sits.
And that's a beautiful gesture. The fact that this YW building ties into that reinforces the beauty of this community institution sitting right here, on this land, in this place, and at this time. When I say that we are reclaiming and reinterpreting our city’s origin story that isn’t metaphorical. When I talk about us reinterpreting our collective history together, I think a lot of us over the years have thought about Calgary being a young city on the prairie and that this city represents a new project of civilization. What our work in Truth and Reconciliation is doing, is it acknowledges that since time immemorial, people have lived on this land and made community together, and almost unlike anywhere else on the planet, when new people have come into a space, instead of making war with each other, they have largely made community together and they've agreed to live in peace and work together.
It started first with the Blackfoot being joined by the other members of the Treaty 7 Nations – then the Metis people and then Euro-Canadians set out to establish Canadian domination of this land - and then people from all over the world. Our act of Truth and Reconciliation acknowledges, fundamentally, that the magic of this place is that we have all agreed and signed treaties to that effect, that we will work together to build community in peace and harmony.
Now, “Great Neighbourhoods make a great city” is the slogan under which I do my work. A great neighbourhood is a place for people of all ages, all stages, all wages. For many, many years we built this city in a way where we segregated ourselves. The project of city building that we're engaged in now is a deep reintegration of who we are. The origin story of this neighbourhood is one where the wealthiest Calgarians lived and worked and employed hundreds of their neighbours and supported the churches that took care of their neighbourhood. This was a neighbourhood that was quite truthfully one for people of all ages, all stages, all wages.
For many years that project was challenged, but that project is fully reengaged. Think about this land. Ron Matheson, one of the wealthiest Calgarians of all time and a large land owner in this community, was very instrumental in granting this space. Next door we have Mr. George Brookman offering up his place of business as the reception area for this important ceremony. We have one of the most powerful men in the city, in the province, our Minister of Finance, whose a next door neighbour to this project. Everybody welcoming everyone, it's wonderful. This is a very important place in time in our city's history as we reclaim our core values and reinterpret what we've done and make amends for mistakes that we've made.
And this building - and I think about the difference between this building and the building you're moving out of, which was built in the time where you fortified yourself against the “evil” of the city and here – is the veritable expression of bringing everything together and I love that, and I'm just so delighted that this project has come together.