On Monday, Council unanimously voted to remove the name Grandin from the LRT system and cover a mural depicting the residential school system. Council observed 215 seconds of silence in Chambers. Last Monday, City Hall flags were lowered to half-mast for 215 hours.
The discovery of the remains of 215 children at a Kamloops residential school site is absolutely heartbreaking. As horrifying as this is to even contemplate, we cannot ignore that Indigenous communities have been living with this horror for generations. Our small gestures, acknowledgments, and memorials are part of the healing process, but we have a lot of work to do to achieve true reconciliation.
The station’s name will be changed. Edmonton Transit has already brought together a working group of Indigenous, Francophone, and community stakeholders to recommend names. The mural, covered in orange for now, is not being discarded, but will be stored away until an appropriate place is found for it to be shown in a proper historical context, with appropriate warnings to avoid retraumatizing people. It’s important to remember our history — especially the darker parts of it. But the names and images we choose to hold places of honour reflect on our values as a city, and as a society. It’s worth giving them careful consideration to better reflect the kind of community we want to be.