Petition calling for renaming of Dewdney Avenue, Park given at Regina City Hall

Hundreds of signatures were presented Wednesday morning at Regina City Hall calling for city council to rename Dewdney Avenue and Dewdney Park and Pool.

Supporters and members of both the Buffalo People Arts Institute and Decolonizing Relations were on hand to present a petition containing over 1,000 online signatures and 577 physical signatures asking for the street and park to be renamed Buffalo Avenue and Buffalo Meadows and Pool respectively.

It’s a project by the Buffalo People Arts Institute to re-imagine the Dewdney-named sites at the same time Regina City Council reviews policies for renaming streets and parks of historical figures such as Edgar Dewdney.

Joely BigEagle-Kequahtooway, co-founder of the Buffalo People Arts Institute established in 2015, said Edgar Dewdney should not be honoured for doing “nefarious deeds” like establishing residential schools, withholding rations and starvation, and carrying out policies of John A. MacDonald who was prime minister at the time.

“When I think about why things are named after people, they should be name after them for their accomplishments. And what did Dewdney accomplish here? It’s all negative for me,” BigEagle-Kequahtooway told reporters. “When I think of statues or streets, they are supposed to honour people who did good in the community.”

Supporters gather in front of Regina City Hall prior to presenting a petition to rename Dewdney Avenue and Dewdney Park on July 29, 2020. (Photo: Moises Canales/620 CKRM)

BigEagle-Kequahtooway understands there is some resistance to the name change, but she said that mentally leads to systemic racism.

“People don’t realize how harmful the legacy of Dewdney is, and so if they are not feeling the impact of that systemic racism, then they don’t have to acknowledge it,” she added. “They don’t think we need to make these changes. Maybe that’s one reason why there’s this pushback from the community.”

BigEagle-Kequahtooway explained that renaming the avenue, park and pool is an opportunity to reflect the values and identities of all citizens. She also discussed why they decided it was important to incorporate the buffalo into their name suggestions.

She said the word “buffalo” represents a connection to the land, along with the identity and culture of the original people.

“That history has been erased from this environment. So to me, this is significant,” noted BigEagle-Kequahtooway. “Some people might think it’s a small thing, but to me it’s a huge thing because of who Dewdney was and because Dewdney runs through the heart of Regina.”

She added that she’s hopeful for the name change and believes this is the right time for city council to make tangible reconciliation efforts.

The city said about 2,500 addresses would need to be changed if Dewdney Avenue was renamed.

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