Iveson calls for removal of Grandin from Edmonton LRT station, civic signs

Edmonton’s mayor is proposing the removal of references at a city LRT station to a bishop considered to be an architect of the residential school system.

Bishop Vital-Justin Grandin lobbied government in late 1800s to fund residential schools

Mayor Don Iveson has added his voice to calls to see the downtown LRT station renamed. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

All references to a bishop considered an architect of Canada's residential school system should be removed from Edmonton's civic signs and a downtown transit station, says Mayor Don Iveson.

The discovery of a burial site containing the remains of 215 children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School reignited demands this week to rename Grandin LRT station. 

St. Albert's Bishop Vital-Justin Grandin lobbied the government in the late 1800s to fund residential schools.

In a statement released Thursday, Iveson said he would put forward a motion Monday directing the city to remove references to Grandin from civic signs and the station, as well as LRT announcements. 

He said the city's Indigenous Relations Office and the Edmonton Transit Service were already working with various groups — including Indigenous elders, residential school survivors and francophone leaders — to offer advice to city council on steps forward.

Iveson said his motion will also direct the city to:

  • Cover the original mural of Grandin at the LRT station with orange
  • Consult with the Grandin working circle for next steps
  • Request the naming committee work with the circle to create recommendations for a new name or names for the station and district that contribute to reconciliation

"I'm hopeful this action will provide immediate relief as well as offer a clear timeline for when these next steps will unfold," he said in the statement.

Iveson said during a news availability that while calls for the removal have emerged over the years, all Canadians have now had to face "yet more visceral evidence" of the shameful legacy of residential schools.

"I think what has changed is hearts and minds and that has been made possible because this is so stark and unambiguous."

Edmonton's mayor wants city to remove references to bishop considered to be architect of residential school system

1 year ago
Duration 1:50
"I'm hopeful this action will provide immediate relief as well as offer a clear timeline for when these next steps will unfold," Mayor Iveson said.

In the statement, Iveson said the city is committed to working with Edmontonians to discuss concerns around historical place names that herald figures whose views or actions "no longer reflect our diverse and inclusive community values."

He said the city's naming committee is currently reviewing and revising its policy to incorporate a renaming process. A report is expected before council on August 24.

Last summer, the Oliver Community League petitioned the city to start the process to rename the neighbourhood. Its namesake, Frank Oliver, was an Edmonton MP in the early 20th century who drafted legislation to move Indigenous people off their traditional lands.

Support is available for anyone affected by their experience at residential schools, and those who are triggered by the latest reports.

A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.