Three Ottawa councillors are asking the primer minister to rename the Sir John. A Macdonald Parkway in light of the discovery of hundreds of children’s bodies in unmarked gravesites at a former Kamloops, B.C., residential school.
The letter, signed by councillors Catherine McKenney of Somerset Ward 14, Jeff Leiper of Kitchissippi Ward 15 and Theresa Kavanagh of Bay Ward 7, calls on the federal government to hold an Indigenous-led consultation process to rename the parkway that runs through their wards.
This comes after news of 215 children’s bodies were found in graves at Kamloops at what was once Canada’s largest residential school.
“We are often recalled to the ways place names in our city perpetuate Canada’s genocide against Indigenous peoples; an obvious example of this phenomenon is the name of the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway,” the letter wrote.
Macdonald’s legacy has routinely come under fire for his treatment of Indigenous communities while acting as prime minister.
The letter asked the federal government to follow the lead of Charlottetown, P.E.I., whose council recently voted to remove a statue of Canada’s first prime minister from a downtown corner.
Within a day of the vote, the Charlottetown statue was removed.
“We stand ready to support a renaming initiative that centres on the wishes and perspectives of the Indigenous communities of the Ottawa area, and we urge you to begin this process as soon as possible,” the letter from the Ottawa councillors said.
Anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience can access the 24-hour, toll-free and confidential National Indian Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.