Montreal's Amherst Street is officially no more

The Amherst name is being crossed out on street signs in downtown Montreal, replaced by a new name chosen in the spirit of reconciliation — Atateken.

The city has installed signs saying Atateken, the new name

The Amherst Street signs will stay for a time, but the name has officially changed to Atateken Street. (CBC)

Amherst is out, Atateken is in.

The name has officially started being changed on street signs in the eastern part of downtown Montreal.

The old Amherst signs will stay up for some time, to avoid confusion, before they are removed.

The STM named a bus line after the street, so Bus 14 will change names as well. The process to change customer information tools has already started.

The new name was unveiled in June and approved by city council in August. Here's a refresher on how it came to be.

How do I say it?

It's pronounced… wait, this is easier:

How do you pronounce Atateken?

3 years ago
Duration 0:32
Amherst Street will be officially renamed in the fall.

Why did the name change?

The street was named after Jeffery Amherst, a British general who advocated the use of biological warfare, through smallpox blankets, to kill Indigenous peoples.

In 2017, then-mayor Denis Coderre said celebrating "someone who wanted to exterminate Indigenous peoples" wasn't the best path toward reconciliation, and announced the name would be changed.

A committee was struck, and came up with Atateken. The decision and new name was commended by Indigenous leaders in the province.

What does it mean?

Atateken denotes the idea of equality among people in Kanien'kéha, the Mohawk language.

"Atateken translates to brotherhood, group of people or nations sharing commonalities like values and beliefs, which could loosely be translated as our relations," said Hilda Nicolas, director of the Kanesatake Language and Cultural Centre.

The city said the name also signifies peace, and was inspired by how the street links La Fontaine Park and the St. Lawrence River.


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