Ottawa councillors call for Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway to be renamed

Three Ottawa councillors are calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to begin the process to rename the Sir John A Macdonald Parkway following the discovery of a mass grave at the site of a former residential school in British Columbia.

Councillors Catherine McKenney, Jeff Leiper and Theresa Kavanagh have released a public letter, urging the prime minister to work with Indigenous communities to rename the parkway along the Ottawa River.

"The Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation's recent discovery of a mass grave containing the remains of 215 children at a former Kamloops residential school makes clear that there is an urgent need to recommit ourselves to the project of reconciliation as a nation," said the letter issued Wednesday morning.

"We are often recalled to the ways place names in our city perpetuate Canada's genocide against Indigenous people; an obvious example of this phenomenon is the name of the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway."

The former Conservative government announced in 2012 that the Ottawa River Parkway would be renamed the Sir John A Macdonald Parkway, to honour Canada's first prime minister.

Councillors ⁦@JLeiper⁩ ⁦@tm_kavanagh⁩ and I have written the Prime Minister asking him to work with Indigenous communities to rename the SJAM Parkway https://t.co/jKsivPawPg

— Catherine McKenney (@cmckenney) June 2, 2021

"As First Nations people across Canada demand justice for the ways they have been repeatedly failed by our governments and institutions, the need for renaming this prominent area in the nation's capital is evidence," said the letter from McKenney, Leiper and Kavanagh, adding they will support a renaming initiative that centres on the "wishes and perspectives" of Indigenous communities in the Ottawa area.

"This is a small change that can make a big difference."

The letter notes councillors in Charlottetown voted unanimously on Monday to remove a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald from their downtown core.

In October, Queen's University voted to remove Macdonald's name from its law school building.