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Metis Group Says Streets, Schools Named After Colonial Figures Should Stay

June 18, 2020 6:16 PM | The Canadian Press

By The Canadian Press

David Chartrand

David Chartrand, president of the Manitoba Metis Federation watches on as Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau holds a rally in Winnipeg, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

WINNIPEG — The Manitoba Metis Federation says it’s not supporting a petition to change Winnipeg streets and schools named after a 19th-century British military general who led the suppression of the Red River Resistance.

Federation president David Chartrand says Garnet Joseph Wolseley caused great harm to Metis and other Indigenous people in the 1800s.

After a two-day meeting on the issue, Chartrand says the federation’s cabinet decided the names of those who harmed the Metis ancestors should stay in place.

He says the names ensure their destructive legacies are not forgotten or repeated.

A petition is calling for the renaming of Wolseley Avenue, Lord Wolseley School and Wolseley School, as monuments to other colonial leaders and slave traders are being removed around the world.

The petition calls for the locations to be renamed in honour of Metis people who resisted Wolseley’s invasion.

“General Garnet Wolseley was the military leader of Prime Minister John A. Macdonald’s genocidal scheme of white ‘armed emigration’ to the North West,” the petition says.

Wolseley brought troops to Manitoba to stop Louis Riel’s provisional government. It led to the harassment and killings of Metis people.

The petition also points to Wolseley’s role in the British colonial legacy throughout the world, such as in South Africa, Egypt and India.

The federation said Thursday it decided that controversial names and monuments can create good teaching moments.

“Seeing some names and remembering their histories will be at times difficult or uncomfortable,” Chartrand said in a statement.

“These names provide a reminder of a history that cannot be forgotten, that cannot be repeated, and what we must guard against. We cannot allow colonial history to merely slink away and escape judgement.”

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