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City committee to discuss renaming of Victoria Park and Traffic Bridge
Published Friday, August 11, 2017 5:19PM CST
Last Updated Friday, August 11, 2017 7:49PM CST
A Saskatoon city committee is expected to consider requests Monday to rename Victoria Park and the Traffic Bridge as a way to acknowledge reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.
The president of the Central Urban Metis Federation, Shirley Isbister, penned a letter to the city asking that Victoria Park, or at least a portion of it, be renamed Reconciliation Circle.
“Reconciliation is what we need as a people to be able to move forward,” she said. “It’s really easy to talk about a people as a whole. We’re all individuals and I think if you sit down together at a table and you learn a little bit about each other, you don’t see those barriers or those colours.”
The park isn’t the only Saskatoon landmark with a name change requested. Ruth Elliot, a teacher and a librarian with Saskatoon Public Schools, wrote a letter asking for the city to consider renaming the Traffic Bridge to the Truth and Reconciliation Bridge or TRC Bridge.
Elliot wrote on behalf of students in Grade 7 at Lawson Heights School. Her four-page letter gives a brief history of the Traffic Bridge and its connection to Saskatoon.
“Because of the community and connections that have been established at this location, I respectfully request that this bridge be renamed the Truth and Reconciliation Bridge,” the letter reads. “I want the truth to be told and for Reconciliation to take place.”
Several other letters were sent to the city requesting the name change for the Traffic Bridge. Some students at Lawson Heights School hand-wrote letters as well.
Mayor Charlie Clark says there has been a lot of discussion around reconciliation. He supports the idea of a reconciliation plaza at Victoria Park, where a monument to First Nations and Metis history has already been approved there.
“People are growing up here from all different walks of life — whether it's the Indigenous community, or from other newcomer communities, many of which have been here for decades as well — the street names should reflect that,” Clark said.
The monument in Victoria Park, named Where our Paths Cross, is expected to be unveiled in October.
For now, the city is also taking suggestions to name the new north commuter bridge. The city hopes to name it in a way that honours Indigenous heritage.
The city’s planning, development and community services committee expects to consider requests for name changes at Victoria Park and the Traffic Bridge when it meets on Monday.
City council will need to approve any request to rename a Saskatoon landmark, and further consultation will need to take place for anyone affected by a name change as well.