The Saskatoon Tribal Council is calling for the city to change the name of John A. MacDonald Road following the discovery of 215 Indigenous children’s bodies buried at a former residential school site in Kamloops, B.C.
Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand says while a change may present some challenges for residents in the community, the name is a constant reminder to survivors and their families of the atrocities committed within the walls of these schools because of John A. Macdonald‘s role in promoting and creating the residential school system.
“There’s no disrespect to the community or to anybody, but if there’s things we have to do to correct the wrongs, we’ll lead it at the Saskatoon Tribal Council, because we all benefit in this entire city from the things that we do together,” Arcand said Thursday.
On Thursday afternoon, Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark and councilor David Kirton confirmed they will begin the process to change the name at a committee meeting on June 21.
“It is time to make this change and honour the truths that Residential School Survivors have shared about the impacts of these schools through generations,” said Mayor Clark in a statement.
“We can work together between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous communities to ensure this is a process that builds understanding of our shared history, while creating a city that reflects the spirit of living in right relations together on this land.”
The renaming process will include consultation with Indigenous community leaders, communication with current John A. MacDonald Road residents, a public education campaign and a wider look at options for managing costs and tools needed to change the name.
The city says the proposed name change is the first in a process that is already underway with the city’s Naming committee.
A review of names will be presented to council for deliberation in September.