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What's in a name?

First, a note about last week's e-blast:

I’m still learning about the “new” part of the ward I represent, with city staff dropping by the office almost every day to brief my team and I. And I’m learning even more as I go out to meet residents in evening meetings, constituency days, in schools and community events. During my campaign last summer, I had a hunch that the “old” and “new” parts would have a great deal in common, and I was right.

We are dealing with changing attitudes about driving and traffic on local streets across Don Valley North. In last week’s e-blast about dangerous driving, I mentioned a traffic study for Pineway Blvd. Right away, our office received responses from residents asking “what about our street?” Rest assured, my team and I are working across the map. The Pineway study just happened to be the first completed study we received this year. Keep your suggestions coming and we will get to your area, too.

My many briefings on planning matters across Don Valley North have made it clear we are also absorbing the impact of growth everywhere across the ward. There is a lot happening that I will consult with you on, but for the projects that have already been awarded approvals, I still need your input for a very important part — the name.

This road near Sheppard and Don Mills was named after Helen "Mama" Lu, a tireless advocate who dedicated 40 years of her life to community work in North York.

What's in a name?

In the coming months, we will be asked to propose names for a few new streets and parklands. I believe this offers the perfect opportunity for us to honour Don Valley North’s unique history, particularly its Indigenous beginnings.

By now I’m sure you have been at a public gathering where the City of Toronto Land Acknowledgement was read:

"We acknowledge the land we are meeting on is the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. We also acknowledge that Toronto is covered by Treaty 13 with the Mississaugas of the Credit."

The Land Acknowledgement is a small, but important way to recognize the enduring presence of Indigenous peoples in Toronto. But, I wonder — would you agree that we should use upcoming naming opportunities to permanently honour the Indigenous communities who were the first to call the Don River Valley home?

In fact, human settlement around the River goes back as far as 7,000 years ago. The Indigenous groups who called the Don Valley home were drawn by the value of the waterway. There is even evidence that pottery was made from the rivers' clay deposits, and — long before condos — Wendat longhouse villages were developed along the river starting in 1300.

A depiction of a Wendat longhouse village

The North York Historical Society and the North York Preservation Panel are excellent resources for us. Following the Truth and Reconciliation Recommendations, these organizations are keenly aware of their responsibility to point us in the appropriate direction to honour our Indigenous origins through naming opportunities. Some of you will know that a long-time member and chair of those organizations, Edith Geduld, lives right here in Don Valley North.

As I mentioned, I need your input. Should we begin gathering a list of prospective names? We would need examples that balance honouring the peoples of our traditional territories with other important community figures along the way. Email, call or make an appointment to meet with us. I would love to hear your thoughts.


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