Reconciliation

Trudeau missed an opportunity with Langevin Block renaming

A step in the right direction, but still a monumental missed opportunity
Alex Guibord - Flickr

Last week the Liberal government announced that, starting in 2018, National Aboriginal Day will be renamed National Indigenous Peoples Day. It’s the first of many name changes to recognize the ongoing settler colonial relationship with the original and surviving inhabitants of the landmass now known as Canada.

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The other notable about-face was a commitment to remove the name of Hector-Louis Langevin from the block housing the Prime Minister’s Office and the Privy Council in Ottawa. It’s a long-overdue change that I wrote about back in 2015.

Thanks, Justin. But you missed the mark again. This was an opportunity to not only remove a shameful physical eulogy to colonialism, but also replace it with something directly linked to the land and the original peoples of the area. So what is the new name that shall forever be linked with your legacy of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples?

Drumroll please ….

The Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council.

Insert slow clap here for both creativity and getting to the heart of the reason for the name change in one fell swoop.

Who is advising you on matters of import concerning Indigenous peoples? Here are a couple of suggestions just off the top of my head — Kanata Block or Odawa House. Kanata is an Iroquoian term that means several things, but village is the most common translation.

Imagine if Prime Minister Trudeau, sans war bonnet, had been able to say this on June 21 at the final Aboriginal Day with Assembly of First Nations’ National Chief Perry Bellegarde standing beside him in all his war bonneted glory.

Friends, we gather here today to continue the healing that is necessary since our country decided to form residential schools.

The tragic legacy of those institutions remains present today in the newest generation of Indigenous peoples.

In recognition of the monumental task we face in forging a future that includes all our successes and failures I am pleased to announce a new name for the area known as Langevin Block. This area shall now be known as Kanata Block.

Kanata is the St. Laurent Iroquois name meaning village. So let us all step forth into the global village with renewed faith in each other not just because of our successes but in spite of our failures.

Let Kanata Block stand as a symbol to acknowledge both our collective history and our willingness to make a better tomorrow.

Indigenous Peoples are our foundation. Let us treat them as such. Kanata Block!

One hundred and fifty words that could have helped cleanse the muddied waters of Canada’s 150-year history.

But I guess if a prime minister was to go that far, they would also have to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in full?

All riffing and monumental disappointment aside, this was a massive opportunity missed by a country mile.

Following months of consultations on what to do with the historic building facing parliament that used to house the U.S. embassy, the government has announced that it will be given over to the use of Indigenous peoples.

The announcement of a building dedicated to Indigenous peoples on Parliament Hill is a step in the right direction.

Hopefully this new building is more than a token gesture and all meetings within those walls are full of genuine truth and reconciliation.

Here’s to a brighter future for us all...

And can somebody please let Google know to remove the Langevin name from maps?

Langevin Block
Google Maps
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