Discussions about the names of Winnipeg landmarks have been surfacing in recent days, with one committee hoping they don't fade away.
Streets and landmarks bearing names of the figures behind residential schools are a constant, and painful, showcased reminder of Canada's hidden history.
Every day, people are given reminders of the horrors they faced in residential schools because of the roads they drive on and landmarks they pass. Bishop Grandin Boulevard is one of those constant reminders for residential school survivors.
"It has been hovering over a lot of conversations since that committee was started last year, having it be a very big issue and common part of our city," Reanna Merasty, the chair of Welcoming Winnipeg says. "Right now, it will be a large part of our conversation on Friday, but more specifically on how we can collaborate and work with Mayor Brian Bowman on this matter."
The time has come on Winnipeg’s journey of reconciliation to re-visit the street name, Bishop Grandin. 1/5 pic.twitter.com/KGyEGAVMkV— Mayor Brian Bowman (@Mayor_Bowman) May 31, 2021
Merasty says Welcoming Winnipeg is in conversation with Bowman, who has voiced his preference for the name change, about the possibility but is unsure if they have the ability to change the name of Route 165.
"Because there is a lot of talk I am not sure if that will lead to true action and change within the city."
Merasty and Welcoming Winnipeg will continue to advocate for this change.
Welcoming Winnipeg works to voice Indigenous priorities, giving them the role of looking at Indigenous representation and perspectives to create a welcoming Winnipeg for Indigenous people.
"For myself, it is something that has me kind of cringe or something that really makes me feel uncomfortable as I am moving through that space. To other people, it is just a name. To Indigenous people, it is something that represents our history but also the massive amount of kin and relatives that we have lost from that name and from that history."
She says because so many people do not know the history of residential schools or indigenous people, many live side-by-side with the dark history and do not know it.
"In recent conversations with other people over the past couple of days, is that some people do not even realize they live right beside an old residential school in the city of Winnipeg."
An example of this is 61 Academy Road, which houses the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. It is the site of a former residential school that ran between 1958 to 1973 under a different address, 621 Academy Road.
"What I really want to see in the city is have areas of learning and understanding. I want each of these residential schools to be honoured in some form or way in our city. Either it is a street name or a plaque or a marker, just to have the people that went through that school be honoured."
Merasty suggests people research the areas where they live and frequent to understand what happened there and the meanings behind the names chosen to be a part of Winnipeg. She is reminding people that these stories are constantly being talked about in the Indigenous community and at advocacy events, sharing their own harmful and triggering memories to others to go alongside their personal research.
The National Centre of Truth and Reconciliation's residential school crisis line can be reached at 1-866-925-4419 for those looking to access emotional supports and crisis referrals.