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New name proposed for Sir John A. Macdonald parkway reflects Indigenous heritage

The National Capital Commission appears to be moving forward with a new name for Ottawa’s Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway suggested by an Indigenous consultation group: Kichi Zibi Mikan. 

The commission said in a letter published in a Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg newsletter this week that it would recommend the name change to its board of directors on June 22. 

Kichi Zibi means great river in the Algonquin language, and Mikan is the word for road or path.

The proposal dates back two years, when three city councillors wrote a letter urging the federal government to facilitate an Indigenous-led consultation process to rename the parkway, which runs alongside the Ottawa River.

The National Capital Commission announced an updated policy for naming and renaming its assets in April 2022 and formed an advisory committee. 

The commission decided in January that it would rename the roadway to reflect Indigenous heritage, and consultations involved community members from Kitigan Zibi and Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation.

“I am thankful for the generosity of the participants, who shared views, stories and cultural references about the area, highlighting the profound connection the Algonquin Anishinabeg maintain with the river and surroundings,” said National Capital Commission CEO Tobi Nussbaum in the June 7 letter, which was sent to the chiefs of both communities. 

Sir John A. Macdonald, the country’s first prime minister, authorized the creation of the residential school system in the 1880s. 

The parkway has been named after Macdonald for just over a decade. 

Nussbaum said there will be a ceremony to share the new name in the fall, if it is approved by the board. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 9, 2023.

The Canadian Press


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