Public wed­ding cer­e­mony a first for The Forks

Winnipeg Free Press - SundayXtra - - FRONT PAGE - By Jes­sica Botelho-Ur­ban­ski

AWIN­NIPEG cou­ple with prom­i­nent par­ents tied the knot Satur­day in the first public wed­ding cer­e­mony at The Forks. Tessa Blaikie and Han­wakan White­cloud got mar­ried in front of fam­ily, friends and strangers seek­ing refuge from the rain at the Sco­tia­bank Stage.

They wanted to get mar­ried at an open, public venue, and White­cloud wanted it to be near a skate­board park be­cause he and a lot of his friends are skaters.

The two were en­gaged af­ter three months of dat­ing and mar­ried af­ter nine months to­gether.

Both Blaikie and White­cloud have par­ents who are public fig­ures in the com­mu­nity.

Bill Blaikie, Tessa’s fa­ther, was the NDP MP for Elm­wood-Transcona from 1979 to 2008 and an MLA for the pro­vin­cial NDP from 2009 to 2011.

Wendy White­cloud, Han­wakan’s mother, is a Dakota el­der and a law pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Man­i­toba.

The par­ents co- of­fi­ci­ated the cer­e­mony, which was shel­tered un­der the canopy from the on-again, off-again rain­fall.

Blaikie has been a United Church min­is­ter since 1978, but said mar­ry­ing one of his three daugh­ters was a ca­reer first.

“It’s al­ways an hon­our to be asked, but it’s al­ways par­tic­u­larly so when you’re do­ing it for fam­ily,” he said.

Han­wakan White­cloud said he met his fu­ture wife while on a break from a work con­fer­ence in Novem­ber.

His friend, Wab Kinew, had started a part­ner­ship be­tween the Univer­sity of Win­nipeg, where he works, and Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity, where White­cloud works, to start a na­tional men­tor­ship pro­gram for in­dige­nous high school stu­dents.

Dur­ing a break in the con­fer­ence ac­tion, Kinew went to a speak­ing en­gage­ment, and White­cloud asked to tag along.

He wound up sit­ting be­side Blaikie, who later asked him out over In­sta­gram.

“She sent me a di­rect mes­sage... and it said, ‘I find you very at­trac­tive, but I don’t know how to ask some­body out over In­sta­gram,’ ” White­cloud re­mem­bered. “And I said, ‘That works!’ ” White­cloud planned to pro­pose in Fe­bru­ary while act­ing as an MC at a snow­board­ing com­pe­ti­tion in The Pas. But it got so cold he could barely get the words out, he said.

A few weeks later, a bet­ter mo­ment to pop the ques­tion arose.

Blaikie helped White­cloud grade hun­dreds of univer­sity-ap­pli­ca­tion forms for work, and the self­less act ce­mented what he al­ready knew — she was the one.

“Af­ter we were fin­ished, we were sit­ting in the kitchen and I said, ‘So you know, do you re­ally want me to get down on one knee?’ ” White­cloud said.

“She asked me, ‘Is this hy­po­thet­i­cal?’ And I said, ‘Well yeah, that was. But this isn’t,’ ” he said be­fore tak­ing a knee.

The cou­ple’s wed­ding cer­e­mony adopted tra­di­tions from Blaikie’s up­bring­ing in the United Church and White­cloud’s Dakota her­itage.

White­cloud’s mother pre­sented the cou­ple with a white and green-pat­terened star quilt, an item tra­di­tion­ally be­stowed upon Dakota peo­ple cel­e­brat­ing ma­jor ac­com­plish­ments, she said.

The wed­ding party also in­cluded the cou­ple’s other par­ents — Blaikie’s mom acted as her maid of hon­our and White­cloud’s fa­ther was his best man.

RUTH BON­NEVILLE / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS

Tessa Blaikie and Han­wakan White­cloud wrap them­selves in a tra­di­tional Dakota blan­ket dur­ing their wed­ding cer­e­mony Satur­day.

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