Community group calling for Victoria Park name change

A community group celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day in Victoria Park is calling for a name change to their venue.

Local Indigenous leaders with Land Back Camp are calling for name of the park to be changed to Willow River Park as a way of reclaiming its Indigenous routes.

“As of today we want to see the name of the park changed to Willow River Park because the cities in the region need to stop celebrating colonialism and start celebrating Indigenous peoples,” said Land Back Camp co-organier and founder Bangishimo.

“Placemaking is very important to us,” said Land Back co-organizer and founder Amy Smoke. “This is a perfect example of a place that we could simply go back to the indigeneity of it. The place where willows are.”

The park’s statue of Queen Victoria has repeatedly been covered in red paint as a form of protest.

The City of Kitchener is launching a public consultation over the future of the statue before any decisions about its fate are made.

Bangishimo points to reception of the new logo for the park on social media as support for the new name.

“We don’t have to ask for permission which is what we believe,” said Bangishimo. “Why should we wait for white folks in power to decide whether or not they want to change a colonial name? So we’re calling upon the community to start referring to it as Willow River Park.

“Reconciliation means change. It’s a verb. We need to start seeing some of that change taking place.”

The City of Kitchener hasn’t taken any public position on the name of the park, but has said it will consult the Indigenous community in the review of the statue.