Langevin Avenue in Ottawa’s Lindenlea neighbourhood is named after Hector-Louis Langevin, a Father of Confederation and architect of Canada’s residential school system. (CBC) Langevin Avenue in Ottawa’s east end could soon be in for a name change because of the role its eponymous historical figure played in one of Canada’s darkest chapters.
The short, residential street off Beechwood Avenue is named after Hector-Louis Langevin, now considered an architect of the residential school system.
Two other landmarks named after him — Langevin Block in Ottawa and Langevin Bridge in Calgary — were recently renamed. The bridge is now called Reconciliation Bridge, a nod to the effort to improve the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.
"I think residents want to be a part of reconciliation, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous residents, and I understand that there’s an interest in everyone playing a positive role in this discussion," said Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Tobi Nussbaum, who raised the issue Thursday during a meeting of the city’s community and protective services committee.
Marc Maracle, who co-chairs the city’s Aboriginal working committee, welcomed the idea. He said even symbolic gestures such as changing street names can be significant. Hector-Louis Langevin proposed the creation of what were then called Indian residential schools as the most expeditious way to assimilate First Nations children into Euro-Canadian society. (Library and Archives Canada) "It’s never one big thing that’s going to change the world. It’s a million little things," Maracle said. "I think there’s more that we can do together to recognize space in the city and create opportunities for additional and ongoing learning and sharing of stories."
Nussbaum said he’s been contacted by a Langevin Avenue resident who’s organizing the effort to change the name. There is a formal process residents must go through before their street gets a new name, including a petition. Committee passes TRC plan
The community and protective services committee approved the city’s plan to incorporate 14 initiatives in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commision’s (TRC) call to action.
The recommendations include a walking tour, acquiring and displaying more artwork by Indigenous artists, increasing the number of Indigenous employees hired by the city, and endorsing a formal statement of reconciliation.
The TRC’s final report also called for better education of public servants about the experiences of Indigenous people, including residential schools.
"The history of these schools is one of pain and gross injustice that requires us all to make ongoing and concerted efforts to learn the truth about residential schools, acknowledge this history and its modern legacies in our cities and begin a shared journey of reconciliation," the TRC statement reads.
The recommendations go to city council for approval next Wednesday.
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