Two new names have been chosen to replace Colonization Road in Fort Francis, Ontario, from Monday evening, marking the end of a lengthy consultation process between the city and its residents.
The eastern section of the road will be renamed Agamiing Drive, Anishinaabemowin for onshore, and the western section of the road will be renamed Sunset Drive.
“Tonight, the council took a step towards building a more open Fort Francis. We did this by replacing symbols of systemic racism with pointers to our commitment to reconciliation and the vital role that indigenous peoples will play on our way forward as communities, ”City Councilor Douglas Judson reads a written statement released Monday night.
Judson pushed a resolution to rename the main road in the northwestern city of Ontario back in November 2020, adding that he never planned such a “long and arduous” process.
“It exposed latent manifestations of racism and bigotry in our community, and I’m disappointed that it was only 4: 3 votes. But I hope this experience shows the council that there is an appetite for social change in this community and that we, as leaders need to steer these discussions towards a vision, ”he said.
“It is not enough to shy away from questions of justice because they can offend the prejudices or privileges of others. I hope we can do better in the future. “
Despite the difficulties encountered in the process, Judson said the change is “a moment of pride” for Fort Francis.
The two new names chosen for the road were chosen in an informal poll conducted by Judson from 4 to 8 May.
“The choice of Agaming for the East Colonization Road pays homage to the Anisinaabe peoples and their culture at the eastern gateway of our community, which connects Fort Francis to the Kushiching ancestral peoples and the sacred area known as the Seven Oaks,” Judson said.
The ‘Sunset’ selection for Colonization Road West reflects the natural beauty of the region. It is also a tribute to the Sunset Country mestizo community and their many contributions to Fort Francaise, ”he added.
Treaty Youth Council # 3 says there is still a lot of work to be done
The protracted process, as well as discussions on the process of renaming the road, attracted a lot of attention from local residents and organizations.
In late February, the Oshkiniyigia Treaty No. 3 Youth Executive Council sent a letter to the City Council expressing disappointment at the delays in the renaming process, describing it as a “politicized debate.”
Now that the process has come to an end, the youth council said it was delighted to finally see change materialize.
“We see it as a positive step forward that Fort Frances recognizes the role that Indigenous peoples play in the community and that Indigenous peoples will be welcomed in the community. There is still work to be done, but this is work that we can do together, ”said a statement from the Oshkiniyigiig Youth Executive Council of Treaty No. 3.
The Youth Council also acknowledged Judson’s work, calling him a “constant advocate” for change.
“We also recognize the many Fort Francis community members, Aboriginal partners and allies who have written letters in support of the name change and supported reconciliation efforts. The names suggested by the broader Fort Francis community reflect the shared history of the indigenous communities in, “the statement said.
The new road names will be introduced on January 1, 2022, and Judson said three pointers to the former Colonization Road will be donated to museums: one to the Fort Francis Museum, one to the Manitou Mounds Interpretive Center, and one. to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.
Fort Francis follows Dryden, Ontario, which recently renamed its Colonization Avenue Bouju and Memorial. Kenora, Blind River, Lake Bay, and several other municipalities in Ontario and Manitoba have also renamed local “colonization” roads in recent years.
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