Improved directional and community boundary signage is coming for First Nations along Manitoba’s highways.

The provincial and federal governments are each contributing $200,000 to pay for it.

For some communities, the signs will be upgrades or replacements, but Manitoba Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler says for other communities the signs will be a first.

Consultations to determine sign specifications will occur over the next year; installation will follow, taking a total of three years.

Saint Boniface-Saint Vital MP Dan Vandal spoke on behalf of Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott at today’s announcement at the Manitoba Legislature. He said consultations with First Nations will ensure words on signs are accurate and respectful.

“Up to now, the road signage outside many Manitoba First Nations did not reflect the historical or commonly used names of the community. Today’s announcement is about more than just changing signs to add the correct names, it’s about breaking with injustices of the past,” said Vandal.

Schuler said they want to make sure the signs have the correct name, and to be respectful to First Nations communities, but he said these kinds of consultations are the norm for any such signage.

“We would do that as Manitoba Infrastructure before we would put up a sign, say, for Oakbank... we would consult the RM of Springfield, say ‘these are what we’re looking at putting up.’ Why wouldn’t we extend that same courtesy, for instance, to our First Nations?” said Schuler.

Minister of Indigenous and Northern Relations Eileen Clarke said today the idea for improved highway signs came from a meeting with Waywayseecappo council. Waywayseecappo is a First Nation in the area of Riding Mountain National Park.