New street names unveiled to replace Winnipeg roadways named for controversial bishop

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A list of street names that could replace roadways named for a bishop remembered as one of the architects of the residential school system has been unveiled at Winnipeg City Hall.

The city’s Indigenous relations division issued a proposal outlining new names for Bishop Grandin Boulevard, Bishop Grandin Trail and Grandin Street.

The roadways’ namesake Bishop Vital Justin Grandin was known for advocating on behalf of Métis people and defending French-language rights in Western Canada, but also for being a supporter of the residential school system.

The proposal recommends renaming the boulevard to Abinojii Mikanah, which is Ojibway for children’s roadway, the trail to Awasisak Mēskanow, which is Cree for children’s road, and Taapweewin for Grandin Street, which is Cree for truth.

Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham said Monday the name changes are a step toward reconciliation, and answer the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s calls to action.

“I think what will be really important too, if indeed these names are approved, there will have to be good effort on public education, as well so that the people of Winnipeg, motorists and Manitobans have a good understanding of the new names and why they’ve been chosen and what they mean,” Gillingham said.

The recommendations come after the city’s executive policy committee directed the division in June of 2021 to launch consultations with Indigenous people, Indigenous governments and community organizations about possible name change ideas.

Councillor Brian Mayes (St. Vital) also brought forward a motion in 2018 to install a new marker of an existing plaque acknowledging Grandin’s involvement with residential schools.

The creation of a such a historical marker on the Bishop Grandin Trail was also recommended by the city’s public service to ‘provide context to the existing historical marker dedicated to Bishop Grandin.’

Gillingham said it was important to go further than that.

“We need to take actions that go beyond putting up panels that someone may or may not ever see, to educate people. Those are important, but I think that if we’re going to take the calls to action seriously, that we need to act, and this to me is action.”

A Calgary school named for Bishop Grandin was also renamed in June of 2021 after a unanimous vote by its school district.

The new names will go before Winnipeg’s executive policy committee on March 13.

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