City streets lack First Nation names

Ken Noskye
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I was looking at the map of the City of Prince Albert. It's a map published by Prince Albert Tourism and Convention Bureau Inc. There was one thing I noticed: there are no streets or avenues named after First Nation leaders. Sure there's Grey Owl Avenue and Grey Owl Crescent, but as many people know Grey Owl was as native as I am Irish.

PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. - I was looking at the map of the City of Prince Albert. It's a map published by Prince Albert Tourism and Convention Bureau Inc. There was one thing I noticed: there are no streets or avenues named after First Nation leaders. Sure there's Grey Owl Avenue and Grey Owl Crescent, but as many people know Grey Owl was as native as I am Irish. Considering this is an official map of Prince Albert Tourism one would think a push would have been made a long time ago to name a street or avenue after one of the aboriginal leaders.
There is a huge market for aboriginal tourism in Europe. Germany, without exception, is fascinated with anything aboriginal. Japan, Sweden and Australia are other markets that have taken a deep interest in the culture of Canada's founding nations. Calgary recognized this many years back and their main streets (Crowfoot and Blackfoot) are an example. On a smaller scale and back to their MÉtis roots is the city of St. Albert, Alta., where Riel, Dumont and Lacombe are the featured streets.
But here in Prince Albert - the front yard of great MÉtis leaders like Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont - there is nothing. Not even a back alley. According to the centennial book published in 1966 by Gary Abrams, "The first man to reside where the city now stands was James Isbister, a half-breed trapper and interpreter for the Hudson Bay Company in 1862."
Once again I looked at the city's map and there wasn't an Isbister way, street or avenue. Legendary Cree chiefs such as Big Bear and Poundmaker aren't mentioned in the city maps.
Located North of P.A. is the Wapheton Dakota Nation. You may wonder how the Sioux ended up in the heart of Cree territory. After Sitting Bull, Gall and Crazy Horse wiped out General George Armstrong Custer's cavalry they came to Canada. The descendants of Wapheton are part of the Sioux nation that stayed and established the Dakota nation that is now there. Since Second Avenue leads towards the Wapheton First Nation, wouldn't it be cool if it was renamed Dakota Drive?
Since 40 per cent of the city's population have identified themselves as aboriginal it's important they feel like a part of the community and one way to do this is to highlight one of the leaders after a street. The old residential school, now called Opawakoscikan student education centre, would be a prime example of naming a street after the Cree nation. I think it would be awesome if I can say to someone "I'll meet you at the corner of Cree and Dakota." I appreciate there are buildings like Gabriel Dumont Institute of Applied Science and Malcolm Norris buildings (owned by the Prince Albert Indian and MÉtis Friendship Centre). However, we could do a lot better.
There is a process involved in getting a street named after someone. A letter written to City Hall is the only way. The letter is passed on to a Street Naming Committee which then makes recommendations and ultimately it is the mayor and city council that makes the decision. It would be of the greatest respect if a street were named after a First Nation person that is still alive. The first name that comes to mind is Lawrence Joseph, current chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations. Chief Joseph, who still resides in P.A., is a former city councillor and the first First Nation person to act in the capacity of mayor for a major Canadian city. And, we can't forget Eugene Arcand, the first First Nation person to be recognized as a Citizen of the Year.
There are many others - Jim Brady, Anaharo and Roy Bird - who could be considered for the honour. And, it doesn't have to be a street or avenue, it could be a recreational park or one of the city's many buildings.

Ken Noskye's column appears every Wednesday in the Prince Albert Daily Herald.

Organizations: Wapheton First Nation, Prince Albert, Prince Albert Tourism and Convention Bureau Hudson Bay Company Wapheton Dakota Nation Gabriel Dumont Institute of Applied Science and Malcolm Norris Street Naming Committee Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations

Geographic location: Prince Albert, Cree, Canada Sask. Grey Owl Avenue Europe Germany Japan Sweden Australia Calgary Dakota Blackfoot Big Bear Second Avenue

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Recent comments

  • Janet
    November 20, 2009 - 11:36

    How is wanting NO racial bias a racist comment? How is commenting on YES to merit and contribution a racist comment? Throwing statistics around could definitely be a racist comment, so its probably best to leave statistics out of it, right? As for Lawrence Joseph, well, enough said.
    My bad.
    Yes to naming a street after a deserving FN person. Be sure it is not just a token appointment, therefore not meaningful. Have one to make us proud.

  • JJ
    November 20, 2009 - 09:50

    I realise there is a large number of aboriginal people in Prince Albert, but there are also alot of places in and around Prince Albert that already reconize that, aboriginal peoples have aways been welcomed into the community, and have helped make Prince Albert what it is today.

  • Roddy
    November 20, 2009 - 09:19

    enough is enough from sask , It's very obvious that it easy to point fingers at First Nation people for everything that goes wrong in the city. If you are a metis, than why call your people down. I think Ken is very smart to bring this issue to the city's attention. lets face reality and build this city on a friendly and respectful basis.

  • Dan
    November 20, 2009 - 09:08

    Lets not make this a race issue. Lets base this on Prince Albert achievement! Yes, there is some great native leaders!

  • Dan
    November 20, 2009 - 08:53

    Why would anyone name a street solely on any racial bases names haven't been chosen up to now to my knowledge why would we start now?

  • enough is enough
    November 20, 2009 - 06:58

    lets be honest here people there is alot more than 40% aboriginal in p.a. i would say it is more like my next comment is going to sound racist but it is not meant to be that way since i myself am metis.
    now before there was that many aboriginal people in this city we did not have the crime rate we have and we did not have gangs running around spray painting our city with gang logo's people could walk anywhere they wanted to in our city with the worry of gangs bothering them so ken with all due respect your way of doing this is not right you are actually trying to cause problems by doing this article and i am not sure if you meant to do it that way but by mentioning the name L.J. you lost any credibility for this article.the natives have enough in this city they have taken over the streets at night to the point where people do not want to walk alone anymore because of being scared of being robbed or beaten for no reason. so ken please tell us all why having buildings and schools named after our native brothers is not good enough.i do agree with you on say meeting at central and 13th street to go for a coffee but we have to do it before it gets dark because most of businesses close early due to the people who hang around and i don't want to get robbed or beaten because i am now on some native gangs turf

  • Dan
    November 20, 2009 - 05:53

    How about Ahenakew street?

  • john
    November 20, 2009 - 02:07

    After many years of doing service work on the local reserves, it is always a challange to find peoples homes with just a house number. Very few streets and roads have been given a name. Since the majority of the reserves are aboriginal it would be great to highlight all the leaders after a street or a road thats longed for a name for years!

  • Janet
    November 20, 2009 - 00:57

    Please please please do not make this an appointment based on race. Credit should be given on merit and contribution to our city. If there are 40 percent of a certain population in a city, let's see 40 percent of the many volunteers, donators, and positive action come from that. And Lawrence Joseph a candidate for a positive role model? I shudder at the thought.

  • rob
    November 19, 2009 - 22:36

    Many years ago,there was a series of commercials on cfqc T.v.It was called Streets Of Saskatoon.It profiled different street names and the history of the person it was named after.All of these people had done something to further enhance or showcase the city they lived in.That,Mister Noskye is how you should have a street named after you.Not by wiping out Custer and then staying here after you'd run away,so i'd have to say your idea of a Dakota Drive is not cool as you so eloquently put it.I really don't care if your skin color is white,red,black,yellow purple or pink,but I do take offence to the idea of naming a street after someone just because they were an aboriginal leader.Name a street after someone who has done something for this city on that basis alone.If the person is white,that's great and if the person is native,then great.Pick someone like Bernice Sayese to name a street after and no one can say anything except that they named it after someone who worked tirelessly for their community.I know you feel a sense of entitlement and that's the governments fault as much as it is yours,but the sooner you and a lot of other people stop your way of thinking you'll be able to walk down a lot more streets in P.A. and feel a lot safer,no matter what their name.

  • molly
    November 19, 2009 - 20:34

    Hey, Janet! who's throwing statistics around. You're in a different world girl! as for you and Lawrence Joseph... get a life sister!! he's married, leave the man alone!

  • K
    November 19, 2009 - 05:34

    OMG get a life!!! As smart as you think you are - your missing the point.. Way to ruin a really nice idea..

    P.S. I really liked this article! :)

  • enough is enough
    November 19, 2009 - 02:53

    roddy can you please show me or name me one whiteman gang in our city or one gang that was started by someone other than an aboriginal.I am a person who has lived in this city since birth i do know what i am talking about.i am not calling down my aboriginal brothers but i am stating a fact about the gangs in this city and what has happened in the past 20 years like it or not i am speaking the truth

  • hairbag
    November 19, 2009 - 01:46

    You probably would have had a lot of sympathy towards your cause if you wouldn't have mentioned Lawrence Joseph.

  • howie
    November 18, 2009 - 19:23

    Ken was only suggesting that Prince Albert should be fair to First Nation people by honoring the proud leaders of our past. On the other hand it didn't take long for Janet and Jerry to disrespect and demean First Nation people of Prince Albert, Sk. Shame on you!

  • who the heck cares
    November 18, 2009 - 18:39

    Lol the native of the west side have already dubbed some streets with names!!

    Bannock Street! for one I find is funneh! Whats the use of a name! Personally I don't care if streets are named after a native?

    And hey I'm native? Day~yum !

  • Dear Janet
    November 18, 2009 - 17:17

    Hey Janet.. Where do you work? What do you do that makes you think there isn't 40% of Aboriginal people donating time and money to the cause??? Sorry if there aren't as many Aboriginal moms working hockey tournaments and having bottle drives for their kids $1500 a season activities!!! Give your head a shake!! Look at the work being done at the grassroots level of social work and community development.. I know a number of Aboriginal people doing more than their fair share of work to help make things better... It all depends where your looking and if your looking at the upper middle class population - get a clue..

  • K
    November 18, 2009 - 15:43

    Well said Howie!!!

  • ed
    November 18, 2009 - 15:09

    exactly like the friendship centre or share a meal maybe even the National. this city has always been historical. for senior citizens.prince albert home of senior citizens.

  • Salota
    November 18, 2009 - 14:45

    1) First Nations is not just a denotation of race - it includes culture and history as well.

    2) For those who would cut down First Nations people by pointing at the lowest denominator (gangs) rather than the higgest... What goes around comes around... or rather, You are reaping what you have sowed through hatred and racism . Hope you're happy with the end result :)

    -Love, your First Nations neighbour

  • b
    November 18, 2009 - 14:22

    In any city numbered streets and ave's work just fine