Saskatoon Tribal Council chief calls on city to rename residential street named after MacDonald


Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand is calling for the city to rename a street named after Canada’s first prime minister.

The residential street is on the west side of the city.

“I think it’s very good important to change the name of John A McDonald road in Saskatoon west just for the fact it’s been a bad taste in history for residential school survivors.”

Across the country cities and towns are debating what to do with statues or monuments named after the first prime minister of Canada and others who played a role in the residential school system.

In Edmonton and Winnipeg the name  of Bishop Vital-Justin Grandin is being stripped off city landmarks because of his role in the school system that saw approximately 150,000 First Nation, Inuit and Metis children taken from their families and sent to state run schools.

In Toronto, a statue of Egerton Ryerson that was sitting outside the university that bears his name was toppled and decapitated.

The head eventually made its way to 1492 Land Back Lane about an hour northwest of Toronto and where Haudenosauneee land defenders are trying to stop a housing development.

Saskatoon Tribal Council
The head from the Egerton Ryerson statue that stood outside Ryerson University in Toronto. Photo: Charlotte Morritt-Jacobs/APTN.

Saskatoon city councillor David Kirton is taking it to the governance committee on June 21.

“I will tell you what’s going to happen first I am going to be presenting a motion telling for the name to change from that road to the governance and priorities committee – a committee that includes all members of city council,” says Kirton.

“On National Indigenous People’s Day and from there if passed, and I do quite frankly expect it to pass city council, city council will deal with it about a week later.”

Arcand says its another step  towards reconciliation and believes that its important to acknowledge that the name can trigger survivors and descendants.

“At the end of the day the word John A McDonald triggers a lot of our Indigenous people by the creation of residential schools,” says Arcand.

Kirton, who is Métis, says his dad was a residential school survivor and agrees with Arcand that the name should be changed.

“There are so many Indigenous families that have to cross that road to go to school every day or even just to go home,” he says.

“Even on off school days and they have to cross that road and see that name.”

Kirton says that with the uncovering of the graves at residential schools many people are being triggered and it’s important to make changes where possible.

“That’s why this is important these wounds are going to be continued to be reopened I am afraid their are going to be discoveries as we saw in Kamloops throughout Canada,” says Kirton.

The new name will be decided on by a committee in the near future, likely to include Elders and survivors.

Reporter / Saskatoon

Priscilla is Cree and a member of Mistawasis Nehiyawak in Saskatchewan. She has worked with APTN National News in the past as a reporter in Winnipeg, host for an entertainment segment, and the 2010 Winter Olympics. Wolf is an alumni of the INCA –Indian Communications Arts Program at FNUC & has a BA of Indigenous Studies from the University of Regina. She brings over ten years of experience working in media across the prairie provinces.