City of Saskatoon hears call to rename McPherson Avenue

A historical researcher is calling for the city to rename McPherson street. Slavo Kutas/Global News

A historical researcher in Saskatoon is calling on city councillors to rename an Exhibition area avenue which she says glorifies the creator of colonial policies in Canada.

McPherson Avenue is named after David Lewis MacPherson, who served as interior minister under John A. MacDonald. The city said while the name is misspelled, it is named after the historical figure.

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Researcher Stephanie Danyluk penned a letter to city council saying MacPherson is responsible for “egregious colonial policy decisions” against local Métis people.

She notes his mistreatment of Métis people asserting their land rights, citing it as a catalyst to the 1885 Riel Resistance, in her letter.

Danyluk said her request isn’t about erasing history.

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“This is more of an idea of creating space for maybe people whose history hasn’t been commemorated,” she said during a Zoom presentation to the city’s civic naming committee.

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At the meeting, city planner Daniel McLaren said name changes like this are “exceedingly rare;” the process would then see the city talk to property owners and other stakeholders for comments.

Those comments would be presented in a report to council for consideration in the name change.

Coun. Mairin Loewen noted during the meeting that the city has not had many instances of name changes like this, and asked for examples from other cities on how they have handled renaming streets and other assets.

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“I think that applying our existing process to a renaming request that has its roots in historical injustice … I don’t know that that process fits as well,” she said.

Council agreed to have city administration gather examples of other cities where name changes like this have happened, as well as ideas of how the city can respond to naming requests of this nature, then report back to council.

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