Those going through the City of Dryden will be ‘welcomed’ into the community like never before.
Dryden’s Indigenous Working Circle and city councillors have narrowed down two new names for Colonization Avenue, which will be split into two roadways. The Dryden Fire Service requested that change to make it easier to respond to emergencies.
Colonization Avenue North will be renamed Boozhoo Avenue, while Colonization Avenue South will be renamed Memorial Avenue. Council’s official decision is expected by April 26’s virtual Council meeting.
“Boozhoo Avenue has a number of reasons behind it,” explained councillor Shayne MacKinnon, who also serves as co-chair of the working circle.
“It’s the Ojibway word for ‘welcome’. Folks visiting our community will see that avenue. It recognizes the Indigenous population of our community and the area. I think it’s very appropriate to welcome people to our community.”
Prior to the Colonization Avenue renaming process, Dryden’s only other street name derived from the Ojibway language was Wabigoon Drive. Councillors noted more Ojibway representation was needed throughout the community, which supported the Colonization Avenue renaming process.
“Memorial Avenue pays tribute to community members who have passed, and how we came together to make a historic and positive change for Dryden,” said co-chair of the Working Circle, Cheryl Edwards.
“This also pays tribute to first responders, police and volunteers who have dedicated their lives to provide emergency services to our community and surrounding area. It also pays tribute to our Indigenous ancestors who are and were caretakers of this area,” adds Edwards.
In January of 2021, the city’s Indigenous Working Circle recommended councillors rename Colonization Avenue, and staff began a sixty-day public consultation process where residents could submit proposals for the road’s new name.
By the end of the consultation period, the Dryden community had submitted over 400 names to the Working Circle, of which 265 unique names were identified for possible consideration. Each of the 10 members of the group then chose 10 options each, before narrowing them down to 3 options overall.
Other short-listed names chosen by the Working Circle included Boozhoo, Sunset or Memorial Avenue for Colonization Avenue North; and Memorial, Harmony or Barclay Avenue for Colonization Avenue South.
Colonization Roads in Ontario were part of several policies implemented to expand settlements and force out Indigenous populations. Others include residential schools, the Sixties scoop, the Quebec Act, among others.
“The word colonization is more than just a name of a street,” explained Edwards during her over 40-minute presentation to city councillors in January 2021, explaining why the name needed to be updated.
“This word glorifies the process of an attempt to destroy Indigenous people. In terms of the historical context of the founding and settling of Dryden, it’s a partial history; a partial history without Indigenous perspective.”
The City of Dryden’s Working Circle was approved in July after being suggested by councillor Norm Bush. It’s made up of five community members and five city representatives, who are all working together to improve relations between the city and Indigenous communities and partners.