If you don’t already know the history of Joseph Trutch, you likely will in the coming weeks.
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart wants to bring forward a motion to city council in hopes of having Trutch Street renamed.
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Trutch Street is located in the Vancouver Westside, running north-south from West 1st Avenue to West 16th Avenue.
Joseph Trutch’s history is directly tied to Indigenous people and their land. Along with serving as BC’s very first Lieutenant Governor, he was Chief Commissioner for lands and works in the mid to late 1800’s.
According to Dr. Bruce Granville Miller, with UBC’s Department of Anthropology and Sociology, “He believed the Indians have really no rights to the lands they claim, nor are they of any actual value or utility to them; and I cannot see why they should retain these lands to the prejudice of the general interests of the Colony, or be allowed to make a market of them either to Government or to individuals.”
Mayor Stewart has consulted with local First Nations.
“I have spoken with Musqueam leadership about renaming Trutch Street and am in full support. Joseph Trutch actively worked to marginalize Indigenous People and seize their lands,” Mayor Stewart said in a statement.
“That’s why I will be bringing forward a motion at the next Council meeting to have the name changed. There have been calls to do this for at least a decade and it’s long past time to act.”
This would not be the first time leaders from the past have been stripped of their prestige in the form of street names or statues.
Sir John A. MacDonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada, infamously had his statue removed from Victoria City Hall, which led to a polarizing debate about whether rewriting history in this way was the right thing to do.
In a tweet, Mayor Stewart added, “Trutch St is nothing more than a symbol of hate and violence towards Indigenous People. It’s long past due to rename it to something that reflects pre-colonial history. It’s a simple yet powerful way to put reconciliation into action.”
The motion to rename Trutch Street will be brought forward at the next city council meeting on June 8th.