The park will now be known as Buffalo Meadows, following a 9-2 vote in council Wednesday.
Last July, a 600-signature petition was submitted to the City of Regina by the advocacy group Decolonizing Relations, requesting that Dewdney Park be changed to Buffalo Meadows Park.
Dewdney Park was named after Edgar Dewdney, who, in the 19th century, was titled Indian Commissioner of the North-West Territories, which included Saskatchewan, Alberta and parts of B.C.
His policies included withholding rations from Indigenous People to force them to settle on reserves.
Dewdney chose Regina as the region’s capital in 1882 before Saskatchewan was a province.
Joely BigEagle-Kehquahtooway has made it a personal and professional goal to promote Indigenous cultural education.
She spoke in support of the renaming both at the committee and council levels, and applauded council’s decision.
“It’s been a long wait. I’m actually genuinely surprised that it actually happened. So I’m pleased,” she said Thursday.
“This is part of the bigger initiative to change Dewdney Avenue to Buffalo or Tatanka Avenue. If we need to ease that thought and thinking into city council business then I’m supportive of the steps they’re taking.
BigEagle-Kequahtooway pointed to Calgary as an example of a city she thinks has taken reconciliation seriously when it comes to civic naming.
“They have a number of major highways like Crowfoot Trail, Deerfoot Trail and Shaganappi Trail. You get an understanding of the history of that city and that Indigenous people actually lived there,” she said.
“Whereas in Regina, you don’t get a sense that Indigenous people actually lived here.”
She added that she hopes the name Buffalo Meadows can help educate the public about the history of the Regina area before Dewdney’s legacy began.
“I look at North Central and I’m trying to research where that name came from. Our environment affects the way we feel,” she said. “I think it’s going to take years, and kids will say, ‘Let’s go to Buffalo Meadows pool’ and think, ‘Why is it named that?'”
The report notes that an official renaming ceremony is planned for sometime this spring.
BigEagle-Kehquahtooway has also been advocating for the renaming of Dewdney Avenue.
During Wednesday’s meeting, City Clerk Jim Nichol said a report considering that possibility is being drafted and will be completed in the third quarter of this year.
Nichol said more than 2,500 addresses would be affected by such a change.
Councillors Lori Bresciani and Terina Shaw were the lone votes against the renaming.
“I know we focus on the negative, but I think there’s also the positive and I think the truth has to be told collectively, and that’s why I hope sometime as council we move forward with the discussion of where this story will be told,” Councillor Bresciani said during debate.
“It wasn’t all good history, but there’s both stories that need to be told there.”
During debate, Councillor Shaw asked the city clerk why more consultation would be taking place for the potential renaming of Dewdney Avenue than the park or pool.
According to the report on the renaming, the cost of sanding down, repainting and decaling the Dewdney Park sign will cost around $1,000. A decal will be added providing background information on the new name. The report notes that the cost can be absorbed in the Parks Maintenance Operational budget.