City of Ottawa to rename street after late Algonquin leader William Commanda


The City of Ottawa has approved the renaming of a residential street after a respected Algonquin elder in accordance to the city’s reconciliation strategy.

The current street, Langevin Ave., named after Hector-Louis Langevin, a father of confederation and an architect of the residential school system, is located in an area called New Edinburgh just east of downtown.

The street will be renamed to Commanda Way after the late William Commanda from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, a respected elder and well known advocate for Indigenous rights.

Claudette Commanda, executive director of the First Nations Confederacy of Cultural Education Centres, says her grandfather should be remembered for his strength and as a peacemaker.

She called the renaming a meaningful action.

“When the City of Ottawa, Mayor Watson and city council made a statement on reconciliation… He also made it a point that it was important to build reconciliation with Algonquin people because the city of Ottawa is on Algonquin land,” Commanda explained.

William Commanda
Claudette Commanda – pictured here at a vigil for Joyce Echaquan in October 2020 – says her grandfather should be remembered for his strength and as a peacemaker. Photo: Jamie Pashagumskum/APTN

The motion was brought forward by Rideau-Cockcliffe Coun. Rawlson King and the motion was passed at a council meeting on Wednesday.

“He was a dedicated role model for those who sought spiritual guidance as they navigated the pain of the residential school experiences. I cannot think of a more fitting way to honor that legacy,” King said of Commanda.

King said he is grateful to the residents and Indigenous community who took part in the long two and a half year process of consultation which was especially difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said reconciliation is not a destination but a journey and journeys are made up of a thousand steps and the renaming of the street is just one step and shows the city’s commitment to the path of reconciliation.

Claudette Commanda hopes Ottawa residents will question why the street is being renamed and will serve to inform the population on who Langevin really was.

“We all know he was the notorious author of Canada’s dark history and the residential schools,” Commanda told APTN. “It will motivate them to do some research. It’s education.”

Commanda said she learned from her grandfather to have a strong voice and to be proud of who she is as a strong Anishinabe woman and a member of the Algonquin nation.

Claudette holds dear the words of her grandfather telling her:

“’You are a North American Indian.’ And he pointed out to the whole map of North America. ‘All of this land is where you come from. And all of this land belongs to our people and never forget that and let no one take that away from you.’”

Langevin also had his name stripped off the prime minister’s office in downtown Ottawa in 2017 after a request from several members of Parliament.

Reporter / Ottawa

Originally from the Cree Nation of Chisasibi on the eastern coast of James Bay, Quebec, Jamie has lived in Ottawa since 2015. Trained in journalism at Carleton University, he has worked as a freelance print journalist and as a writer/researcher for the Cree unit of CBC North out of Montreal. Jamie was hired as the reporter/correspondent for the Ottawa bureau in October 2019.