I haven’t lived in Fort Frances for some time, but I recently learned of the efforts to rename Colonization Road, and I wanted to voice my support. Streets are named with two considerations in mind: they are named to honour someone or something, or they are named to evoke an aesthetic. It should be clear to everyone that colonization is neither something worthy of honour, nor is it a good look. It is a harmful, racist concept that is still negatively impacting members of the community, as well as people across Canada and the world.
While it seems clear to many that the name should be changed, I’m sure there is some resistance to the idea. Changing the name of a street is not without hassles. However, there is precedent for it in Fort Frances. When I was a young child, the street now known as Keating Avenue was called Fairies Avenue. It was changed in the late ‘90s to help first responders find the correct address without confusion. Riverview Drive and Oakwood Road have their current names for similar reasons. There was a good, important reason for those names to be changed, just as there is with Colonization Road now.
For those who say that changing the name erases history, I challenge that idea. I had no idea who either Keating or Fairies were until I looked it up yesterday. I doubt I’m alone in not knowing the history of the names of many of the streets I’m familiar with. We don’t name streets to teach or preserve history. We name streets to honour that which is worthy of it. The systematic oppression and erasure of Indigenous people and culture is not something that should be honoured with a street name.