What's in a name? Consultations show low support for renaming Winnipeg streets, places

A report heading to Winnipeg's city council Tuesday shows low support for changing street or park names or removing historical markers, despite the sometimes problematic history of people they're named after.

A report heading to Winnipeg’s city council Tuesday shows low support for changing street or park names or removing historical markers despite the sometimes problematic history of people they’re named after.

Community consultations for Welcoming Winnipeg: Reconciling our History shows 49 per cent of respondents did not want historical markers removed, even if, from a modern perspective, the actions of the honouree was controversial.

However, 23 per cent of respondents were fine with changing or removing names.

“There was a shared belief between those who support removing markers and those who supported keeping historical markers that context and education is needed,” reads the report.

“However, there was a broad spectrum of input received.”

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The city of Winnipeg embarked on the community consultations after Mayor Brian Bowman announced last January that the city would review how it names streets and places, acknowledging the lack of Indigenous history in the city’s naming systems.

In the report to council, people who participated in the community consultations said Indigenous names should be given priority when naming new streets, places and trails.

People also stated that Honourary street names that expire after a few years are mere “tokens” and do not honour people properly.

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Many said in cases of problematic names, perspective should be added rather than the name removed.

For example, Bishop Grandin Boulevard was named after Vital-Justin Grandin, a Catholic priest who died in 1902. He was an early supporter of the Canadian Indian Residential School system.

Some responses to Place Names.

Some responses to Place Names.

City of Winnipeg

The report recommends in the case of new names, a committee to be formed from community members to review and evaluate name suggestions.

The report will go before city council Jan. 30.

The City of Winnipeg isn’t the only group looking at names and how they’re chosen – the Winnipeg School Division has embarked on a similar review for school names.

Read the full report to council: 

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