‘Colonization in Context’ panel set for Wednesday
While Fort Frances town council considers a process to rename Colonization Road, an online panel discussion has been planned for Wednesday, November 25 from 6:30 to 8:00 PM to provide residents with additional perspective and resources on the topic.
The panel, organized independently and moderated by Councillor Douglas Judson, will discuss what colonization is, what impact colonization has had on people who live in the Fort Frances area, and ultimately, why our community’s commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous people should include removing names like ‘colonization’ from local streets.
The panelists will be:
Lloyd Napish, a councillor with Eagle Lake First Nation who has been part of the effort to rename Colonization Avenue in Dryden;
JoAnne Formanek Gustafson, a labour leader and educator who lives in Fort Frances is a member of Couchiching First Nation; and
Jeff Denis, a professor of sociology at McMaster University, whose work has explored settler-Indigenous history in the Rainy River District.
A local Indigenous youth and an elder of a local First Nation have also been invited.
Information about the panel is available here or at www.facebook.com/JudsonDW/events. It will be live-streamed on Judson’s Facebook page and viewers are encouraged to ask questions to the panelists in the comments section.
Council discussion begins Monday
Town council is expected to begin its consideration of a process to rename Colonization Road during its meeting on Monday, November 23. The initiative was brought forward by Judson in response to feedback about the problematic street name, but also explicit guidance from two commissions.
In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada called for municipal governments to repudiate concepts like colonization that are associated with the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius, while in 2019 the Ontario Human Rights Commission informed municipalities that the official use of names, words, or images which degrade individuals based on their race, ancestry, or other protected grounds could constitute a denial of service contrary to the Human Rights Code.
In recent years, municipalities across Canada have renamed roads named for colonization, including Kenora, Blind River, and Lake of Bays in Ontario and St. Clements in Manitoba. A process is currently underway in Dryden as well.
In 2017, Fort Frances town staff reported to council that the costs associated with renaming Colonization Road were minimal.
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Douglas W. Judson
Quotes from Councillor Judson:
"The purpose of this event is to start a conversation on what colonization means to people who live in our community, and to improve our understanding of what impact the process of colonization has had on Indigenous people in our district. We could change the name of Colonization Road overnight if we want to, but if we are serious about our commitment to reconciliation and building a new relationship with our neighbours, we should do so with clarity of purpose."
"Fort Frances is going through a period of economic and social change, and our future depends on being more inclusive, and on an improved, more respectful relationship with Indigenous people. They are the youngest and fastest growing portion of our population, comprising over a quarter of our citizens. In 2020, having roads named to commemorate systemic racism is a civic embarrassment that is out of step with those realities."