Indigenous input needed

Cody Carmody

Dear editor and town council,

My name is Cody Carmody, a former resident of Fort Frances, with long historical ties to the community and an everlasting love for Sunset Country. Although I have not lived in Fort Frances for over a decade now, I reflect on my upbringing in the town regularly and I owe much of my current self to my experiences growing up in the community. My entire family does live in Fort Frances, and I still come home as often as I can and get just as excited every single time. Fort Frances holds a special place in my heart and it will always be my home. I am also a proud Citizen of the Métis Nation, and I grew up living in the same family home for 18 years until I moved away for school – my home on Colonization Road.

First and foremost I want to admit that Colonization Road West has deep sentimental value to me. My first steps, first pet, first bike ride, first sleep over – virtually all my “firsts” that we humans tend to hold on to in some weird sentimental way took place on Colonization Road. I do not like the idea of this being taken away from me. It feels as if all these memories I hold dear to my heart are not only being altered by having a significant aspect of them changed, but also that they’re somehow being tarnished in that I should be ashamed for holding my home, Colonization Road, so dear to my heart. I know this is all in my head and none of what I just wrote down is actually true – the name of the road does not change the experiences I had – but I’m a self-reflective person and I think there are times when sharing your feelings, regardless if rationale, adds value to the decision making process.


I also know that these emotions pale in comparison to the emotions many Indigenous people in our community feel every time they are forced to see or hear or drive down or even live on Colonization Road. As minuscule as it may seem, and perhaps is, I simply do not want the sentimental significance of the change to go unacknowledged.

The main issue I’d like to weigh in on is with regards to the renaming process of Colonization Road. The Resolution proposes an Ad-Hoc Committee to oversee the selection and implementation process for the name change, with which I take no issue. My concern, however, lies within the Ad-Hoc Committee itself. Specifically, I am not convinced that a committee that does not include any representation from the membership for which it is claiming to advocate (in the spirit of Reconciliation, as per the Committee’s Terms of Reference and Section 27 of the Resolution) is the best approach to this decision.

I can’t help but feel it’s somewhat performative to make a spectacle about renaming Colonization Road to reconcile with Indigenous community members while not having any Indigenous leadership on the decision making committee. It seems the intent is to include Indigenous voices through a submission process, while leaving the ultimate decision making authority in the hands of this Ad-Hoc Committee, which is still very colonial in nature and inarguably paternalistic.

My sense, and fear, is that everyone’s focus is on the name of the oppressive system rather than the oppressive system itself. If the Town truly wanted to move away from colonial practices, would it not include some Indigenous representation in its decision making committee for a matter that so directly involves Indigenous people? “Nothing about us without us” comes to mind. If there are systemic barriers preventing Indigenous leadership from being on the committee, this is the perfect time to address them. Unless, of course, it’s just the road signs we’re worried about.

Thank you for your time and consideration of my letter. I hope Town Council will consider a more collaborative, consensus-building approach to this very important decision.

Respectfully,

Cody Carmody