Thunder Bay

Not 'just a name' as Dryden moves forward with renaming of Colonization Avenue

Colonization Avenue in Dryden, Ont., will soon be renamed.

City has shortlist of possible new names, council expected to make final decision later this month

Dryden city council is expected to vote on renaming Colonization Avenue later this month. (Dryden Working Circle)

Dryden's Colonization Avenue will soon have a new name.

Two new names, to be specific.

After a long process that involved public consultation, Dryden city council is slated to vote on new names for Colonization Avenue North and Colonization Avenue South at its meeting on April 26.

"This was important to the Indigenous population," said Cheryl Edwards, executive director of the Dryden Native Friendship Centre and member of the working circle, a committee that helped choose the short-listed names.

"When we talk about reconciliation, we are looking at reconciliation through action," Edwards said. "And that is what the working circle kept in mind, and moving forward with something that is meaningful. And while many people say, 'well, it's just a name,' no, it isn't. It actually is a progression."

"We need to move forward as both populations within the city of Dryden and to have a respectful working environment and a respectful understanding of each other."

The city began consulting the public in January, accepting submissions of potential new names for a 60-day period.

"We had over 400 names submitted by people in the community," said Dryden Coun. Shayne MacKinnon. "Once we ... got rid of duplicates and the names that we didn't think were worthy of anyone's time, we ended up with 265 unique names."

That number has since been reduced to a short list of three potential new names for Colonization Avenue North, and three for Colonization Avenue South.

The working circle, however, has two suggestions: rename Colonization Avenue North as Boozhoo Avenue, and south as Memorial Avenue.

"So in regards to North Colonization, Boozhoo Avenue, certainly we felt that it was a word of welcome in the Objiway language," MacKinnon said. "That particular avenue intersects with Highway 17, and we thought it would be very visible for our visitors."

"Certainly it's a recognition of the Indigenous population of our community. And really, lastly, that avenue services a growing area of our community, a new industrial area, and an area that has such potential for growth, both for retail, industrial and housing."

Meanwhile, Memorial Avenue carries a variety of meanings, as well, Edwards said.

"One of the reasons why we chose that as a working circle was the fact that it has recognition for just about everyone," she said.

Memorial, she said, "can apply to veterans, it can apply to people who have a tremendous impact on the community historically and present, recognition of people who have lived on the street," Edwards said. "Also in terms of Indigenous, the residential school survivors, those who have passed on, 60s Scoop and missing and murdered Indigenous women."

"It has meaning for all when you really think about it."

MacKinnon said assuming council approves the new names on April 26, the city plans to celebrate the change on June 21, which is National Indigenous Peoples Day.