Word from the street

colonization sign

Staff

To gauge the reaction to the Colonization Road name change debate, we took the question directly to residents. We handed out 149 flyers to residents along Colonization East and West, asking if they were for or against the change, why, and what suggestions they had for new names. The following are the responses we received.

As a resident of this street for the past 13 years, I am in full favour of a new name.

Our society enshrines the name of important people and events by erecting monuments and naming places in their honour. Such action tends to legitimize the history of some while silencing the voices and experiences of others. Colonization is far from a benign process that involves people moving from one place to another. On the contrary, it has historically been a coercive and violent process that continues to impact the structural foundations of our society in a myriad of ways. The Residential School System and the 60s Scoop find their roots in colonial policies and I cannot imagine the feelings of those that have been so horribly impacted having to see colonization immortalized in the name of a road as though it is something of which to proud. Afterall, we would not expect to see street names such as Segregation Blvd. or Apartheid Avenue; Colonization Road is equally as ludicrous.  Our country has a long way to go towards reconciliation and the changing of a street name is one very small but important step towards an inclusive society.


I have no particular favourite with respect to a new name, but I feel that the selection should be collaborative and reflect the community that we want. It is my sincere wish that our current council has the courage to tackle this timely issue.

Don Eldridge

I for one am dead set against any changes. You say there’s no cost to us but that is not true. We’ve been through this before with Sunset Shell. When they switched over from Colonization Road to King’s Highway, there was an incredible cost. My vote is absolutely no change.

Dan Livingstone

If this is what councillor Doug Judson feels will help reconciliation with the First Nations communities, then change it. Who are we to argue with him? He seems to know everything. If we don’t comply with his ideas and views, he I will probably put in a grievance to the human rights court, like he has done to Emo’s town council. I just hope the name change is to something easy to say, easy to spell, and doesn’t sound ridiculous. I am not against the name change, the word colonization is not a good word, I just think that if it was so troublesome to the First Nations people, why didn’t they ask? Do they care as strongly about this as Doug Judson?

Resident

We are not for the name change. We’ve lived here for 50-plus years. There’s been nothing wrong with the name so far.

Resident

As a 50 year resident of Colonization Road W, I say yes, it needs a new name. I would like to see some something short and sweet (easy to spell) after 50 years of having to spell it out ALL THE TIME. Please don’t name it after a person, as years from now someone will dig up some dirty thing or other and the process will start again, just saying.

Resident

I recently moved onto this street and have been going through the change of address scenario which involves notifying the following: Canada Revenue Agency, CPP Pension Plan, former employer, banks, credit cards, insurance companies, driver’s license, car registration, Ontario Health, telephone company, cell phone company, internet provider, Town of Fort Frances – water & sewer, Town of Fort Frances – taxes, power corp, appliance rental, gas company, car dealership, CAA, magazine subscriptions, library, charities, church, clinic, hospital, pharmacy, optometrist, service clubs, out of town medical practitioners and services, out of town friends and relatives.

I paid the post office to have my mail redirected and am still finding at least a couple times a month that I’ve forgotten to notify someone.

I am definitely opposed to the name change. I have been a lifelong resident of the town of Fort Frances and until very recently have not heard of any deep seated hurt being felt by people because of the name of a street. I am truly sorry for those few people who are genuinely hurt by this situation but I do feel that the inconvenience to so many others should be taken into consideration before any name changes take place.

However, if Council does decide to support the name change I would like to suggest that they look at a number of other street name changes that could benefit the community. I believe that east and west should be dropped. How many times has there been confusion and wrong deliveries because something that should have been delivered to an east street, was delivered to a west street and vice versa. Having streets such as Elizabeth and Colonization dubbed east and west when they are so far apart seems ridiculous. And what can I say about Sixth street east and west which causes utter confusion. If we’re going to feel the pain then let’s bite the bullet and do it all at once.

Irene Laing

I disagree with the name change. It seems that this is something that is getting out of hand and everybody could have a reason to find offensive on almost any names of street names or town names or district or area names.

Resident

We are opposed to the name change, not for any reason that has to do with the reconciliations with First Nations, but for monetary reasons.

My husband and I own a house and property in the USA as well as here in Canada. The cost to us to change contact information, title info, not to mention all our banking info for both USA and Canada as well would be an added expense for us considering we are both seniors and are on a pension. All people have gone through difficult times in history, I do not agree with the “getting rid” of unpleasant times, it is our history, it is recorded so people don’t forget that it was wrong. It is history, bad history…but still history.

Resident

I’m all for reconciliation. It’s important. But the council has downplayed how much this will impact the residents on the street. It might take me a year to get everything switched over. Life insurance, clinic, Driver’s licence, passport, Nexus, schools, CRA. It’s going to be a big chore. The list feels endless right now. It might only be $2700 for the Town for the signage, but they have paid staff for that. There are maybe 100 residents on the road, each with 100 things they’ll need to update. For me, I’m in a place and at an age where I can stay on top of it. What about older people? A lot of this will land on their kids and grand kids. At the very least, the Town owes the residents a heads up, that these are the things you need to look after – a checklist of what needs to be changed. And will they pay for mail to be forwarded?

Resident

I’m against the name change. I don’t see why we need to change the name. One of the definitions of Colonization, from Wikipedia, refers to a large scale population movement, where migrants maintained strong links with their ancestor’s former country. In my opinion, it means bringing people together. It’s a mingling of cultures. I could be misinformed, but I have some indigenous friends, and one of the things that’s important to them is to maintain culture. If you’re talking about colonization, maybe you can relook at it. It doesn’t always have to be bad. Personally, I feel it means coming together and mingling, plus maintaining your own culture. Maybe it wasn’t so good, but let’s all get together. You can’t change history, so learn from it and make things better. Changing names isn’t going to really help unless you change people’s attitudes.

Resident

I have lived on Col Rd W for 36 years. Both my husband and myself are totally against the name change. Council should not be allowed to make this decision themselves – they should shelf this proposal until after COVID is over. With the strict COVID restrictions on, how many people can gather? We, the residents of Col, are not allowed to have an open forum with council concerning this matter. It’s very underhanded of council to even bring this proposal forward now. . . sneaky. This same proposal was voted down 5-1 last time because none of the residents of Col were consulted. We haven’t been consulted this time either, but Doug Judson had the time to consult with First Nations Leaders and CBC News, all done before the story was published in the Wednesday Nov 11 Times. He stated online last Thurs Nov 12 that private citizens have come forward to help the town financially – how long has council been working on this and all behind closed doors? The Mayor and Council were elected to represent and help the residents of Fort Frances, but they seem to have become a dictatorship and are dictating to us. Doug Judson is only bringing this proposal forward for his own personal reasons and to further his political aspirations. Leave the name the same. It was never meant to be offensive and only became that way because someone wanted it to be seen that way. I could find anything offensive if I or you want it to be. You can’t change history – you learn from it and move forward.

Debra Armstrong

I am opposed to changing the name of the Colonization roads. Colonization has happened in all but five countries in the world. This is not a personal attack on any one group or nation. Great Britain itself has colonized 117 nations. It happened everywhere. I am sure there are a lot of colonization or colony or colonial streets out there in many countries that are never given a second thought. There are many other and better ways to work toward reconciliation. I don’t see how changing a street name would have that much effect on healing the injustices done to the First Nations peoples.

Resident

I am against the name change for Colonization Rd. I think the timing is terrible. We have so many other issues that need our attention at this time. There is no way we can hold town hall meetings to discuss the ramifications of the proposal because of COVID. We can’t count on letters to the editor or Facebook groups to inform the general population because frankly, not everyone has access to this forum. It bothers me that the impetus for this change came from outside our boundaries and frankly, it’s a local issue, not one that non-residents should have any input in. – Resident Being a Métis citizen I understand how the aboriginal people have had many challenges over the years so I do realize how many things can bring up bad memories and feelings but I also think there is too much time and energy spent on issues like this rather than using that time and energy to address the physical problems like food, supplies, clean water, infrastructure etc. on the reservations and aboriginal communities. One thing I would like to point out on the “no cost to private residents” is that as a business owner there is a cost to change corporate addresses, cheques, business cards, letterheads etc. so on the business side I am against the name change but on the personal side I can understand completely how it is offensive to the aboriginal people. This being said, I would be 100 per cent for the name change if it was lead by the actual aboriginal people rather than politicians looking to gain popularity.

Resident

I have lived on this street for over 30 Years. I never did like the name of the street mainly because it being too long, having to spell it out frequently, but not for the reason currently being discussed.

I am neither for or against the naming of the street. I do feel that local residents should have the majority input in the final selection process before a final name is adopted.

Whatever the outcome of future discussions, I will concur. It is important that the new street name have no repercussions, such as what we are currently encountering. Keep it simple and politically correct.

Street Name Suggestions:

Country Road

Old McIrvine

Grey Jay Drive

Valerie Mills

As a long time resident of Colonization Road West I do not object to the renaming of Colonization Road. It has been a source of frustration many times having to spell out the name when providing someone with my address! With respect to any “political” issue, I prefer to remain neutral.

If the decision is made to rename the road then I believe the suggestions made by current residents of Colonization Road be given priority. One or more residents should also be represented on the ad hoc committee established by Council.

My choice would be to simply remove the name “Colonization” and rename them West Road and East Road. Simple, and easy for those of us who have to notify many sources of an address change.

Whatever the decision, I prefer a shorter name, one with no political connotations and definitely NOT Reconciliation Road!

Liz Clark

I am a resident of Colonization road and I am opposed to this change.

I do not see that it would provide any significant benefit to the First Nations Community, and obviously no benefit and but cost and inconvenience to residents, and would not further reconciliation, as many residents will be resentful of the effort required to change many sets of personal records.

This is substantial – an incomplete list: Drivers license; Health cards; Passports; Revenue Canada; Property Tax accounts ( including for cabin properties in other Townships ); Utility accounts; Banking records; Online shopping accounts; Other professional licenses/certifications.

Potentially, the consequences of missing a change of address might be serious.

I am aware that this change has been made in other locales in Northwestern Ontario, but my understanding is that in these cases, the number of impacted addresses was very small and few were residential.

Possibly, some compromise could be reached that allows Colonization to remain a legal street address while having an alternate street name reflected on signage. If this were the case this the above would not be an issue.

On an intellectual level, I also object to this change. Whatever the connotation of ‘Colonization’ to First Nations, it is a historical fact that led to the creation of a very successful nation of which I am proud. In some ways, I see it as delegitimizing the nation of Canada, which I cannot support. I would suggest the effort and funding go towards other reconciliation efforts. One thought is a statue commemorating First Nations veterans or monument acknowledging the Residential Schools tragedy. These would be uncontroversial and not alienate current residents of Colonization Road ( or other town residents ).

I voted for Douglas Judson, and generally have been happy with his progressive positions on issues; however, I cannot support this resolution, and it will definitely impact my voting decisions in next council elections.

Kevin Stewart

The road name “Colonization” is a constant reminder of the distress caused to members of our communities and families. The effort required to rename Colonization Road is minimal and necessary. The people of Rainy River District are like the members of one family. Let us walk together to build friendship and unity.

Michael and Sheri De Gagné

I strongly disagree with changing the name of our street. What happened to the First Nation people was a travesty and by changing the street name won’t make up for the past and all the terrible things that has happened. The past can never be erased; it’s something that has happened and can not changed. Most people don’t even realize what the definition of the word colonization meant including myself until I looked it up online. The colonizing of people has gone on for hundreds of years, if not more, all over the world. This not only happened in Canada but to many other people in many other countries. People do wrong things. It takes a bigger person to recognize the wrong-doing and an even bigger person to do something about it. So moving forward I propose to leave the name as a remembrance, a teaching tool of the past and use the day of Nov 23 (or chose a date) to reflect on it instead, for all the people around the world who were wronged.

Resident

I have mixed feelings about Colonization Road. First of all, it has been a pain in the butt to fill in forms and the address usually does not fit, so I have often wanted the street name to change. I would prefer that they go ahead and change the name as it will continue to be revisited in the future if they don’t. Just get it done.

On the other hand, I had never interpreted the word Colonization in the same way as it is now being presented to me, so there is a learning process, just as my understanding of residential schools has changed in the past 60 years.

The article in last Thursday’s Bulletin – People and Places, extolling the virtues of the Rainy River District illustrated my understanding of the word. An opportunity for a better life that people took, moving thousands of miles, leaving family and friends. The lives they were living were so tough that immigrating to Canada, an unknown land, was preferable. Now the word means the stripping away of land from indigenous people and causes hurt to many. Canada still encourages immigrants. It still tells people this is a good place to come, and that they will have a better life. Is this also hurtful for much of our population.

When we strip away words and erase mention of people, do we lose history? Do we lose teaching opportunities for everyone?

I think a lot of it comes down to the way the word Colonization is interpreted, for those who resist its change, it reflects the idea of a chance for a good life, for those in favour, an understanding that it meant the loss of good land and a way of life.

Removing a name is simple and if it removes hurt, that is good. But in choosing a new name, please choose something simple, that is easy to spell and will fit on forms. Several years ago Boundry Road was changed to Oakwood Drive, Fairies to Keating to make it easier for police and ambulance dispatchers. We survived.

Linda Plumridge

Reactions from Flinder’s Place

  1. “No further action” must remain.

  2. Taxpayers make recommendations and council must remember this.

  3. As a local resident at Flinder’s Place on Colonization Road, the name of this road must remain and we as citizens would be responsible for informing all of the address change, which is immense. ie. Driver’s license, vehicle ownership, investment firms, banks, government agencies, tax debt, unemployment, various hospitals, MasterCards, food store card, licensing bureau, pension funds, past employers, family and other friends, funeral parlours, etc and many others.

  4. Again, there is no reason that this name should be changed and I’ve seen no satisfactory reason put forth, just to please two council members. This question should be ruled out of order as it does nothing to improve the community, but includes costs and hardships to all on Colonization Road.

Anthony Kadikoff

I’m 100 per cent against changing the name. We’ve had this name for 100 years and it didn’t bother anyone before. If we’re going to start changing names, we should change ALL of them, because we find them offensive to us. Doug Judson is running this like he’s the mayor. He’s on a power trip. What name is he going to change next, while June sits in the corner? Doug Judson isn’t the mayor. He’s trying to sneak this in during COVID, so we can’t even go to council chambers to voice our opinion.

Flinder’s Place resident

I’m against the name change. It’s our heritage, too. It’s been here for years. They should leave it alone.

Flinder’s Place resident

I’m against this. I would like to keep the name.

Flinder’s Place resident

I don’t want the name to change. I don’t agree with why they’re doing it. I don’t agree that it’s racism.

Flinder’s Place resident

I’m against changing the name. I don’t want to go through and change everything.

Flinder’s Place resident

I disagree with the name change.

Flinder’s Place resident

I don’t mind the name either way, but as for it not costing residents anything, it costs nearly $100 to change your address from one apartment to another. There’s the licence and healthcare and other contacts, and you might never get around to doing them all.

Flinder’s Place resident

I’m against changing the name, because I can’t afford it. I’m a senior on a limited income. I don’t have extra money to change everything. They don’t know my circumstances. If they knew my circumstances, they’d understand.

Flinder’s Place resident