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Request to rename "Railway" streets before council

Proposal to council suggests change to Indigenous names
blank street signs

NORTH BATTLEFORD - The City of North Battleford is once again being called upon to rename roads to reflect the community’s First Nations and Métis heritage.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, council heard a presentation from Marilyn Richardson who proposed renaming Railway Avenue, Railway West and South Railway Avenue with Indigenous-themed names.

She made the point that having several streets in the city named “Railway” caused confusion. Among the names she proposed was Bresaylor Road as an alternative for Railway West. She also put forward names such as Amik Trail (the Cree word for beaver) and Awasisak Way (meaning ‘way of the children’).

This is not the first time Richardson has lobbied City Hall for street names to be changed to reflect the city’s Indigenous heritage. Richardson had gone to council in 2016 where she made a similar request.

This presentation also comes on the heels of requests before other communities in Saskatchewan and Canada to change the names of streets, with some street names coming under fire over connections to residential schools or colonialism. Recently the City of Saskatoon voted to change the name of John A. Macdonald Road, due to Macdonald’s role in the creation of residential schools in Canada.

At Tuesday's meeting, Richardson expressed her hope that changes to the street names would “raise the esteem” of those of Indigenous ancestry, while providing those not of that ancestry an opportunity to learn.

“They were here, they are here,” said Richardson.  

“I hope there is a real energy and a real interest to fight racism because that’s really what it’s all about.”

There was positive response to what Richardson was proposing. Councillor Len Taylor pointed out there had been a committee established recently for reviewing and commemorating names for streets in the city. As well, he noted a whole part of the city was being developed in conjunction with the tribal councils and elders’ council.

“We’re open to suggestions that you’re making,” said Taylor, who added he agreed there was no need for Railway Ave “in three different places.” He suggested there were “other opportunities for us here” to take a look at naming their streets.

Councillor Thomas “Bill” Ironstand told Richardson he agreed with her “100 per cent” and said he would do what he could to move it forward. He supported not just naming new streets but also changing old streets, pointing to the Killdeer area with names like “Robin” or “Blue Jay.”

“We have Aboriginal words for those,” said Ironstand.     

The next step is for the issue to come back to a future meeting for further information and discussion, and a resolution to that effect carried at council Tuesday.