Vancouver and Victoria mayors wants to rename Trutch Streets over namesake's racist history

The mayor of Vancouver is introducing a motion to rename Trutch Street over the namesake's history of oppressing and displacing Indigenous people in B.C.

Joseph Trutch served as the province's first lieutenant governor and as chief commissioner of lands and works, a role he used to dramatically reduce the size of Indigenous reserves.

His racist views of B.C.'s Indigenous population are well-documented. He's been quoted as describing most Indigenous people in the province as "utter savages living along the coast" in a letter to then-prime minister John A. MacDonald in 1872.

Kennedy Stewart said he's spoken to leadership from the Musqueam Indian Band and fully supports the push to rename the street, which runs across the city's Kitsilano neighbourhood.

"Joseph Trutch actively worked to marginalize Indigenous people and seize their lands," Stewart said in a statement. "There have been calls to do this for at least a decade and it's long past time to act."

The mayor said he'll be bringing forward his motion at the next city council meeting – a move supported by Musqueam Chief Wayne Sparrow.

“A hundred per cent we support the mayor in his endeavour,” Sparrow said in an interview with CTV News.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps is also in favour of renaming a Trutch Street in that city.

“We’re proposing to name it Truth Street,” she said. “I think it’s a very real possibility. Victorians, British Columbians and Canadians are appalled and want to do something."

It’s unclear what name could replace Trutch for the Vancouver street but Sparrow says making that decision in consultation with local First Nations would be ideal.

“Back in the day, our community wasn’t involved and didn’t have a say,” he said. “But with the leadership of the city council, provincial government and federal government, with reconciliation, it is something that we have entertained, and hopefully we can come up with a name that’s suitable for all of us.”

Petitions and campaigns have been launched in recent years to remove Trutch's name in both Vancouver and Victoria over his troubling history, but none have been successful.

In 2017, the University of Victoria agreed to rename Trutch Residence following a similar petition started by a student.