Statement on Council Decision
“Tonight Council took a step toward building a more inclusive Fort Frances. We did that by replacing symbols of systemic racism with signposts of our commitment to reconciliation, and of the vital role Indigenous people will play in our path forward as a community.
“The choice of ‘Agamiing’ for Colonization Road East honours Anishinaabe people and their culture at the eastern gateway to our community, connecting Fort Frances with Couchiching First Nation and the sacred area known locally as Seven Oaks. The selection of ‘Sunset’ for Colonization Road West reflects the natural beauty of the region. It is also a nod to the Sunset Country Métis Community and their many contributions to Fort Frances.
“This has been a long and difficult process. It is not the one I wanted when I brought this forward in November. It exposed an undercurrent of racism and bigotry in our community, and I am disappointed that this was only a 4-3 vote. But what I hope this experience tells Council is that there is an appetite for social change in this community, and that we, as leaders, have to direct these discussions toward a vision. It isn’t good enough to shy away from equity issues because they might offend the prejudices or privileges of others. I hope we can do better in the future.
“This is a big, proud moment for Fort Frances – one that will help to bookmark our social and economic evolution. But it’s also just one step in a longer journey toward a more just and inclusive community. I look forward to opportunities to celebrate this milestone in the months to come, but I am mindful that there is more work to do.”
On May 10, Council of the Town of Fort Frances voted to rename Colonization Road East 'Agamiing Drive' and Colonization Road West 'Sunset Drive'. The new road names will be implemented on January 1, 2022.
Three of the signs for the former Colonization Road will be donated to museums: one to the Fort Frances Museum, one to the Manitou Mounds Interpretive Centre, and one to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.
Tonight's decision concludes a 7-month process that began in November, when Councillor Judson brought forward a resolution on the subject matter for Council's consideration.
The two names which were chosen were the top choices in an unofficial survey administered by Councillor Judson between May 4 and 8.
Fort Frances follows Dryden, which recently renamed its Colonization Avenue to 'Boozhoo' and 'Memorial'. Kenora, Blind River, Lake of Bays, and several other municipalities in Ontario and Manitoba have renamed local 'Colonization' roads.
Douglas W. Judson