SASKATOON -- In the wake of the discovery of 215 unmarked children's graves at a residential school in Kamloops, the head of the Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) is calling for John A. MacDonald Road to be renamed.

Tribal Chief Mark Arcand is asking the city to rename the street Reconciliation Road.

Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada's first prime minister is considered an architect of the residential school system.

Arcand believes the renaming will lead to reconciliation and healing for the many people that endured pain and suffering as a result of the residential school system, an STC news release said.

Arcand is expected to push for the name change during a press conference scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon at wâhkôhtowin School.

CITY COUNCIL RESPONDS

In a news release, Ward 3 Coun. David Kirton and Mayor Clark said they will begin the renaming process at City Council’s June 21, 2021 Governance and Priorities Committee meeting.

“This is just one more small step in the long road to Reconciliation,” Kirton said. “I still continue on a personal journey to understand how the Residential School system affected my family. We cannot hope to achieve reconciliation without taking such actions.”

Kirton will ask administration to begin the process for the name change as a way to acknowledge the ongoing harm in the community experienced by the Residential Schools and the role that John A. Macdonald played in this part of history, the release said.

“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,” Clark said.

“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.”

OTHER REQUESTS RECEIVED

Confederation Park Community Association President Mark Mills also said the time has come for change.

“Macdonald will still be in the history books. But families who live in this neighbourhood should not have to suffer the hurt they feel as they walk or drive down this road every day.”

Other requests for John A. Macdonald Road to be renamed have been received by the City’s Naming Committee.

This proposed name change is the first in a process that is already underway. An interim report with a legacy review of names will be coming for Council consideration in September 2021.

“I will spend the next month engaging with the residents who live on this road in the hopes that we can all find a common understanding of that and to help them smoothly transition to a new, more meaningful address,” Kirton said.