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Indigenous names may be used for Grand Valley’s new streets

DESPITE building  DURING Haudenosaunee

Although building in the town is taking place despite the moratorium on development along the Haldimand Tract announced by Haudenosaunee traditional chiefs earlier this year, Grand Valley may add some Indigenous names to new streets.

“One thing would be, we weren’t the first ones here, and we should probably remember that once in a while,” told Grand Valley’s Deputy Mayor Philip Rentsch, explaining the rationale behind the suggestion. “The second thing is I would love to hear people try to say Haudenosaunee and Attawandaron on all the time.” 

Unlike many other Dufferin municipalities, Grand Valley has yet to adopt a land acknowledgement read at the beginning of town events, such as council meetings. Until this April, The Town of Grand Valley was sending notice of planning applications to the Haudenosaunee with the incorrect name of the town.

“We send a notice to the Six Nations of the Grand River territory via mail on every application that I have to give notice on,” said Grand Valley’s Planner Mark Kluge at an April council meeting. “Unfortunately, we have the wrong spelling of the town, but everything else was correct. So, nothing has ever come back to us through Canada Post. I’m going to correct that.”

The suggestion for Grand Valley’s new street name strategy happens after Six Nations chiefs and 1492 Land Back Lane members joined those calling for a permanent space for Indigenous peoples in the region of Kitchener and Waterloo. This week, paddlers were trekking down the Grand River to raise awareness of, in addition to gathering data regarding, the development moratorium.

“It’s really about reclaiming space, reclaiming our land, to come together as Indigenous peoples,” said Shawn Johnston, founder of the Kitchener Waterloo Land Back Camp, to CTV News Kitchener. “More awareness that these are stolen lands.”

On April 20, 2021, Haudenosaunee leadership announced that they would no longer consider it acceptable to develop along the entire Haldimand Tract. The tract consists of 10km of land on both sides of the Grand River, from Dundalk to Lake Erie. According to Museum of Dufferin records, the Dufferin County municipalities with at least some land lying upon the Haldimand Tract are Grand Valley, Shelburne, Melancthon, Amaranth, and East Garafraxa. Maps show that all of Grand Valley is included. Shelburne’s council, having discovered that the Haldimand Tract may include western portions of the town, directed staff to re-examine its land acknowledgement to see if changes are needed. After receiving formal notice of the moratorium on May 27, Dufferin County councillors agreed to direct staff to request an opportunity to communicate with the Six Nations. 

Grand Valley Planner Mark Kluge stated that there might be some issues with adopting Indigenous names as streets throughout the town.

“I understand where are you’re coming from,” said Kluge. “The problem that happens with names that are not English, and this sounds bad, is the mispronunciation.” 

Mispronunciations of Indigenous names are widespread, even by councillors who routinely speak them at meetings. Kluge pointed out that misarticulations can create issues when communicating with dispatchers and first responders, such as EMS and 911. 

“It can be tricky, but I’m sure there’s a way around it,” declared Kluge. “Teaching people how to say it phonetically, I think, will go a long way.”

At the beginning of the street naming discussion, Kluge delineated how the current policy was to use the surname of veterans and how that list had been exhausted. The planner mentioned how the street naming database needs to be updated for new developments, followed by the vetting process ensuring there is no duplication with other municipalities in Dufferin County.

“If you think of a street name and you want to have it for Grand Valley, let me know and I’ll run it through the process,” the town planner told councilmembers.

There is a petition to the federal government, sponsored by Hamilton Centre MP Matthew Green, calling for them to uphold the established Treaty relationship with the Haudenosaunee of the Grand River Territory. Furthermore, the document insists the Canadian Government honour the moratorium put in place by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council and end the practice of paying out developers who do not honour the moratorium.

References – Indigenous names may be used for Grand Valley’s new streets

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