Fort Frances Survey Finds Solid Support for Indigenous Name to Replace Colonization Road

Colonization Road Fort Frances
Colonization Road Fort Frances

FORT FRANCES – An online survey about the new names proposed by the public for Colonization Road East and West in Fort Frances has confirmed significant support for at least one of the roads to be given a name of Indigenous significance.

On March 22, the Town of Fort Frances committed to rename Colonization Road and kicked off a 30-day consultation period where members of the public were invited to propose street names to council. The list of submitted names was published on April 29 as part of the Planning & Development Executive Committee agenda. The Committee meets Monday, May 3, and will generate a shortlist from the over 70 suggestions from the public. The shortlist will be presented to council for a final decision.

The unofficial survey, administered online between April 29 and May 2, was promoted and targeted to Fort Frances-based users of popular social media platforms. The survey generated over 2,600 engagements, with representative distribution across age groups. 361 people completed the questionnaire over the 4-day period.

Participants were asked to select their ‘top 3’ choices in four categories of proposed street names, as well as their overall ‘top 3’ preferred names. A scoring formula was then applied to the results to determine rankings.

The tabulated results demonstrate overwhelming support for at least one length of Colonization Road to be given a name in Anishinaabemowin. In the overall ranking, 7 of the ‘top 10’ names were from the Indigenous category. Agamiing (“at the shore”), was the clear frontrunner, though Amik (“beaver”), Nibi (“water”), Boozhoo (“welcome”), Ziibi (“river”), and Biidaaban (“dawn arrives”) were also among the top 10. The cumulative score of all of the Indigenous names was approximately 2 to 3 times that of any other category.

Sunset – a nod to the region’s tourism marketing – also polled strongly. 70% of survey participants agreed that Indigenous leaders or elders should be consulted, and 60% indicated that the eastern and western roads should have different names.

The unofficial survey was launched by Councillor Douglas Judson as a constituent engagement initiative. While non-binding on council’s decision, it once again demonstrates strong community support for visible symbols of reconciliation, equity, and Indigenous heritage in Fort Frances.

The survey results corroborate earlier public engagement by the Town. Prior to making its decision to proceed with renaming the road, the municipality received written input from over 240 individuals. Of those, only 10 were opposed to the renaming effort. The majority of writers urged council to adopt a name of Indigenous significance as a symbol of its commitment to reconciliation.

At the March 22 meeting of council, Councillor Judson moved to have council commit to giving one of the two Colonization Roads a name that would honour local Indigenous culture or heritage. No other member of council supported the motion.

Council in Fort Frances made a public declaration on May 1, 2019 to engage in the process of reconciliation. The cities of Kenora and Dryden and other municipalities in Ontario and Manitoba have recently renamed their local ‘Colonization’ roads.

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