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Council seeks information on restoring lake names

Efforts to restore the name of Upper and Lower Therien lakes to Upper and Lower Mannawanis are taking place.

ST. PAUL - A delegation during last Monday night's Town of St. Paul council meeting about restoring the name of the lakes that are adjacent to the municipality offered a bit of insight on why the efforts are taking place.

A group of locals have taken steps to start the process of renaming Upper and Lower Thérien lakes to Upper and Lower Mannawanis. A letter of support from the Town of St. Paul was being sought by those involved in the process. Mayor Maureen Miller said she has personally received some feedback from residents about the topic. 

Jim White, president of the Mannawanis Native Friendship Centre, along with Tanya Fontaine Porozni, spoke with council on July 26. 

"This isn't a renaming, or any of the terms being used nowadays... it's simply returning the lake back to the name it was originally known. And that's how simple it is," said White. "From our point of view, it's just simply putting the name back to what it was before the settlers arrived."

Speaking to the process, Fontaine Porozni said she's already contacted MLA David Hanson, and has been in contact with other provincial representatives. She also stated that the application process would be waived since "it's kind of a unique situation." Work has already started on the application, she added.

The name, 'Manawan' was already in historical records, recorded in about 1904 as the name of the lake, which is why the process has already started.

The lakes currently known as Upper and Lower Thérien were once used by Indigenous people as a place to gather duck eggs in the spring. 

"That's where Indigenous people gathered for thousands of years before the settlers came, and that's where they gathered to collect duck eggs in the spring. It was a big social, it was part of the culture and part of the history. And, all we're trying to do is restore that history and put it back in its rightful place," said White.  

Much of the history of the lake is passed on through oral history. About 25 years ago the name change was suggested, said Fontaine Porozni, adding, the friendship centre's name is derived from the original lake name also. 

Fontaine Porozni wasn't aware of any specific timeline for the process to be complete. And any letters of support are to be directed to the province, since the lake name falls within provincial jurisdiction. 

Miller spoke about letters she's received from the Thérien family, voicing some concern around losing the name.

"I've received multiple phone calls around this (topic) as well," said Miller.

The mayor asked if there would be any kind of communication offered to the community explaining why the lakes would be brought back to their original name.

"Is there any plan to have any education around that?" asked the mayor.

Fontaine Porozni said they were still waiting to hear back from the provincial representative they've been working with as to the next steps, but said she could ask for historical records and documentation and pass it on to the Town. 

Miller was thankful, reaffirming that she would like to get some information available for the community, and explain the process to the public.

Janice Huser

About the Author: Janice Huser

Janice Huser has been with the St. Paul Journal since 2006. She is a graduate of the SAIT print media journalism program, is originally from St. Paul and has a passion for photography.
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