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Montreal to strike name of British general Amherst from city map – CP

Source: The Canadian Press
Sep 13, 2017

By Giuseppe Valiante


MONTREAL _ Calling it a “stain on our history,” Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said Wednesday a street that honours a British general who supported giving smallpox-laced blankets to Indigenous Peoples will be renamed.

“Goodbye Jeffery Amherst,” Coderre said at an event marking the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Earlier in the day the mayor presented the city’s new flag and coat of arms, which includes the addition of a white pine tree to reflect the history of Indigenous Peoples before the arrival of colonists.

Amherst Street, located just east of downtown and in the city’s gay village, is named after the general who wanted to “exterminate” native people during the 1700s, Coderre said.

“As far as I’m concerned, if we’re talking about reconciliation, we need to recognize this fact and by changing the name we’re sending a strong message,” he said alongside Ghislain Picard, the Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador.

Coderre said the change will occur “soon” and, while he wouldn’t say what the new name will be, he hinted it will be connected to the native community.

“We will ensure it will be renamed right away,” he said. “It could be the name of a native chief, or called the avenue of reconciliation. I don’t know.”

Picard said Amherst represented “a very dark stain on our history,” and agreed it should be removed.

“There are pages in our history that need to be turned over,” he said. “And there are pages that should be forgotten.”

Montreal’s new coat of arms and flag still includes the Fleur-de-lis, the thistle, the rose and the shamrock, which represent the other peoples who founded and developed Montreal.

The white pine tree was chosen by an advisory committee designated by the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador. It was comprised of members from various First Nations as well as a representative from the Centre d’histoire de Montreal.

Coderre said the move allows the city to start its new chapter toward reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.


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