Equal Footing

Dear editor,

When I started an online petition a few years ago to rename Colonization Rd., I never thought I would see racism rear its ugly head in Fort Frances as much as it has these past few months. The extreme anger, indifference, and lack of empathy and understanding in our community saddens me. But it does appear we have prevailed on moving forward from this dark mark on our town: the road will be renamed.

I am disappointed that most of the discourse surrounding the renaming of the road has focused on names that have little to do with the area’s indigenous heritage — I can hear the eyes rolling already, reading this paper: “why’s everything gotta be about ‘them’?” “Why do ‘they’ want special treatment?” Or in the extremely ignorant and insensitive words of David Whalen which you published in the last edition of the Times: “two wrongs don’t make a right” (as if having a name inspired by the area’s Indigenous heritage would be an outrage). The sad reality, is that this shows racism is alive and well in our town.

Keating, Elizabeth, Flinders, McIrvine — these are all road names in our town named after white Europeans that played an important part in the town’s history. Holmes, Thompson, Webster, I could go on… Having ONE road in our town with a name inspired by local Indigenous history is not “asking for special treatment” (a phrase heard all too often in Fort Frances as a way to shut down real discussions about reconciliation). It is simply asking for equal footing. Thus I respectfully ask Council: don’t just name it something generic and call it a day, name it something with meaning. Go the full mile.

Dawson Mihichuk