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Saskatoon city councillor making motion to change name of John A. Macdonald Road

cbc.ca logo cbc.ca 2021-06-21 David Shield
a man wearing a suit and tie: Ward 3 Councillor David Kirton says it's time to change the name of John A. Macdonald Road. © David Kirton Ward 3 Councillor David Kirton says it's time to change the name of John A. Macdonald Road.

Councillor David Kirton says it's time to change the name of a Saskatoon street named after Canada's first prime minister.

On Monday, Kirton will introduce a motion asking that John A. Macdonald Road be renamed after a consultation with Elders, residential school survivors and other Indigenous community members.

"He doesn't need to be put on a pedestal," said Kirton.

"Not in an area where an old kokum has to take her grandkids to school and has to cross that road every day, has to look up at that sign every day."

Macdonald's legacy has been thrown into question over the last several years, especially due to his role in founding Canada's residential schools. Statues of the prime minister have already been removed across the country, including one in Regina's Victoria Park.

The issue has gained momentum lately after the preliminary discovery of remains of 215 children at unmarked burial sites at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

Kirton is Métis and represents Ward 3, the area where the road is located.

He said he initially wanted to make the motion directly after the revelations at the Kamloops school, but decided to wait.

"I knew that I was too emotional to do that," he said.

"But then, Tribal Chief Mark Arcand with the Saskatoon Tribal Council made that call last week and it was just so easy to follow that up."

Earlier this month, in a news conference with Mayor Charlie Clark, Chief Arcand asked that the road be renamed Reconciliation Road.

While Kirton likes the name, he said it's important to hear from more people in the community before making the decision.

Not everyone is happy with the prospect of changing the road's name. In letters to council, some people living on the street said it would be a hassle to change IDs and mailing addresses, while another said Macdonald's status as a prime minister should be remembered and preserved.

While Kirton is open to helping people living on the street with monetary assistance to change their identification, he still believes the name should be changed.

"A lot of people say that we're changing history and we're not changing history," he said. 

"We're correcting what wasn't reported by historians back in the day."

The motion will be made at the governance and priorities committee on Monday morning. It will need to be approved by council before any change is made.

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