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'It won't take 10 years:' Musqueam chief expects swift process to rename Vancouver's Trutch Street

Last Updated Jul 9, 2021 at 5:26 pm PDT

(Courtesy musqueam.bc.ca/)

Chief Wayne Sparrow says the Musqueam First Nation is excited that they will finally get to rename Trutch Street

Vancouver city council unanimously backed a move to have a Kitsilano street renamed by the Musqueam First Nation

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — It’s something the Musqueam First Nation asked for more than a decade ago — a street in Vancouver named for a colonial leader who was an architect of racist policies will be renamed.

After Vancouver City Council voted unanimously backed the move Thursday night, Musqueam Chief Wayne Sparrow says he anticipates a new name will be chosen quickly.

The first steps are to consult with elders, and bring a discussion to next week’s council meeting.

“We’re very excited and our hands are raised to both the mayor and the city for accomplishing. Musqueam requested over 10 years ago to have this take place. It took a little bit of time but we’re very pleased with the decision,” Sparrow says.

“We’ll work along with our elders and our community members to provide the appropriate name and we’ll work along with the city staff and the city council. I can say one thing — it won’t take us 10 years. We’ll probably have something back to the city, very, very quickly.”

Joseph Trutch, was B.C.’s first Lieutenant Governor. He was born in England and came to Canada in 1859. When writing to family in the United Kingdom about the Indigenous people he encountered in Oregon Territory, he referred to them as “lazy” and “ugly.”

Trutch also claimed Indigenous people had no right to their land, and was instrumental in decreasing the size of reserves by 90 per cent.

RELATED: Vancouver’s Trutch Street to be renamed by Musqueam First Nation

Mayor Kennedy Stewart brought the motion to council saying renaming the street is an act of reconciliation.

Sparrow agrees.

“Our community we’re trying to work with the municipalities and with the province and the federal government on reconciliation and every step that we can move forward on is a good one,” he says, adding he appreciates the move demonstrates a government-to-government relationship.

“If we can work hand in hand to correct the wrongdoings of the past, instead of having to rely on our community doing protests or blockades, to be moving forward in partnership with all of the governments and also the citizens of Vancouver and B.C.”

In recent years, some statues of colonial figures have already been removed from public places – including Justice Matthew Begbie outside the New Westminster courthouse and Sir John A. MacDonald at Victoria City Hall. The recent discovery of the remains of hundreds of people in unmarked graves on the grounds of former residential schools in British Columbia and Saskatchewan have prompted reconsideration of naming streets, and institutions after figures who were instrumental in perpetuating the genocide of Indigenous people in Canada in cities across the country.

With files from Tamara Slobogean