The City of Montreal has officially changed the name of Amherst Street to Atateken Street, in honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day.
“I am moved to see us all arrive together to make this gesture,” said Montreal Mayor Valéries Plante, in French. “Replacing a Montreal name that has been criticized for years to a unifying one that invites peace and sharing between Aboriginal and non-native cultures, embodies the spirit of Montreal in its reconciliation program.”
The word “Atateken” means “brothers and sisters” in the kanien’keha (mohawk) language. It carries with it the notion of relationships and equality between people, according to the press release.
“I want to thank the members of the aboriginal committee who worked with us to take this important step,” concluded Plante.
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Originally, Amherst Street was named after Jeffrey Amherst, a British general whose controversial legacy included giving blankets contaminated with contagious diseases to subdue Indigenous people during Pontiac’s War.
Montreal’s former Mayor, Denis Coderre, announced plans to change Amherst Street’s name in 2017. A committee was formed under the Plante administration to find a new name for the downtown street.
Aujourd’hui, on fait un pas de plus vers la réconciliation entre la @MTL_Ville et les peuples autochtones. La rue Amherst deviendra la rue Atateken, qui signifie «frères et soeurs» en langue kanien’kéha. Bonne Journée nationale et montréalaise des peuples autochtones! #polmtl pic.twitter.com/KrCCfpjalK
— Valérie Plante (@Val_Plante) June 21, 2019
The name change will be endorsed by city council at the end of the summer, according to the Ville de Montreal website.
To make the transition easier for citizens, both names will be displayed on street signs for “several weeks” until Atateken Street takes over permanently.