A Fairfield street named after colonial politician Joseph Trutch could soon be getting a rebrand if a motion passes Victoria council’s committee-of-the-whole meeting Thursday (June 10).
Calls to rename Trutch Street began in earnest over three years ago after University of Victoria student Lisa Schnitzler successfully convinced the university to rename a building called Trutch Residence. But the calls got put on the back burner after the city announced it would remove the statue of John A. Macdonald in 2018, according to Reuben Rose-Redwood, a UVic professor of social and cultural geography.
Earlier this year, the renaming request was reignited by another group of Rose-Redwood’s UVic students for a project on decolonization.
“We do not believe in celebrating racist individuals,” they wrote in their online petition, which has over 1,500 signatures as of June 7.
Trutch served as chief commissioner of land and works in B.C. starting in 1864. In 1867 he demanded Indigenous reserves be re-surveyed and oversaw a 91 per cent reduction in their size. His racist attitudes and comments from the day have become well known and he is quoted in letters and diaries making dehumanizing remarks about Indigenous people.
The motion, brought forward by Mayor Lisa Helps and Couns. Ben Isitt, Jeremy Loveday and Sarah Potts, suggests that the roadway be renamed from Trutch to Truth Street. It also asks for feedback on the proposal from the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations, as well as residents of the two-block street, which runs between Fairfield Road and Richardson Street.
City staff are asked to report back on the implications of changing the name, including the costs of changing the addresses of approximately 60 households.
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