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Calls to rename the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

The federal government is being urged to rename the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway in Ottawa's west end on the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada.

"Today it's not the John A. Macdonald Parkway, it's the Every Child Matters Parkway," said Albert Dumont, an Algonquin Spiritual Advisor.

As hundreds of people participated in a march to rename the parkway, an Every Child Matters banner covered the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway sign on Friday morning.

Events were held across Ottawa on Friday to honour the children who never returned home and survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities.

"It's John A. Macdonald who started the whole thing, the residential schools," said Jenny Tenasco, a residential school survivor. "The people that's suffered, it's very important his name gets changed as soon as possible."

Residential School survivors, Elders, members of the public and elected officials marched along the parkway on Friday morning, calling on the government to change the name of the parkway along the Ottawa River named after Canada's first prime minister. 

"We're going to walk, and every step we're going to take is going to be part of, I guess you could say, like a ceremony just to acknowledge the suffering, the deaths of the past," Dumont said.

"We're determined to get John A. Macdonald's name off the parkway."

"Our hope is that the parkway is renamed the Kichi Zibi Parkway," Anita Tenasco said. "It would be a great honour if the people of Ottawa and all Canadians support us in this important name change."

Kichi Zibi was the original Anishinaabe name for the Ottawa River

There have been calls for the federal government to rename the parkway since June 2021, following the discovery of a mass gravesite at a former residential school in British Columbia. Last year, councillors Catherine McKenney, Jeff Leiper and Theresa Kavanagh sent a letter to the prime minister, calling on the government to work with Indigenous communities to rename the parkway.

"On this National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a move to rename the parkway will go a long way to acknowledge the truth of history and will be a meaningful step toward Reconciliation," Dumont said in a statement.

"There are thousands of children that died who would have lived if John A. Macdonald had never come to this country."

On Parliament Hill, the Indigenous Arts Collective of Canada hosted, "Remember Me: A National Day of Remembrance" on Friday morning. Events included an opening ceremony with Algonquin Elder, Claudette Commanda, and the "Their Little Heartbeats Through Living Drums" event.

A spirit walk was then held from Parliament Hill to LeBreton Flats, where Indigenous children's footwear was placed in front of a stage. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation ceremony at LeBreton Flats.

Governor General Mary Simon welcomed nearly 100 school children and staff to Rideau Hall, where she spoke to them about reconciliation.

She said people wear orange shirts to show that every child matters, which is important to do because of how traumatic residential schools were to Indigenous children.

The OTTAWA sign in the ByWard Market, the Heritage Building at Ottawa City Hall and Marion Dewar Plaza will be illuminated in orange on Friday, and all flags at Ottawa City Hall and at City Facilities will be lowered to half-mast in recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. 

The Peace Tower on Parliament Hill will also be illuminated in orange from 7 p.m. on Friday to sunrise on Oct. 1. Top Stories

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