author: taylor balfour | news writer
Looking to change the name of Dewdney Ave.
It is no secret to any Regina resident that Dewdney Avenue is one of the most popular streets in the city, but it’s history is less well-known. Joely BigEagle-Kequahtooway is seeking to change that.
“We are campaigning the City of Regina to consider changing the name of Dewdney Avenue to Buffalo Avenue and that’s based on a few things,” BigEagle-Kequahtooway explains.
“The number one thing is when we’re talking about Truth and Reconciliation, that means sharing the truth, and the truth about Edgar Dewdney is he was a pivotal player in enacting and creating some of the Indian policies, even before Saskatchewan was created, to instigate the clearing of the West. That meant doing whatever in his means to transfer the Indian people to reserves and also to create these policies that would force people to move to reserves and then also to be able to open up the land for settlement.”
Edgar Dewdney was a political figure in the province throughout the 19th century. However, some of the controversy behind his name lies within his treatment of First Nations peoples.
“He was responsible for establishing the residential school system, the pass system which forced Indian people to stay on reserves and not be able to leave without a pass by the Indian agent,” BigEagle-Kequahtooway states.
“He also was responsible for dictating the food rations that were given to the people after the buffalo were all killed and essentially caused the starvation of hundreds of people.”
However, Dewdney’s story doesn’t end there.
“In fact, he increased the number of RCMP members to come and secure the food storages. It wasn’t because there was a lack of food. He actually increased the number of RCMP to come and protect the food from being given or stolen and a lot of people don’t know that history, that truth, so in the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation, those are the truths.”
Because of Dewdney’s controversial past, BigEagle-Kequahtooway and the Buffalo People Arts Institute are proposing a change.
“I don’t think he’s been an honourable person in our history. Not just in First Nations history, but in the City of Regina, and so that needs to be addressed and so that’s why we’re recommending to change the name to the original inhabitants of this land, this area – the buffalo,” BigEagle-Kequahtooway explains.
“They need to be honoured by more than just one street: Buffalo Trail. That’s our goal and our mission; to bring back the buffalo.”
If students want to get involved, BigEagle-Kequahtooway says they will need the helping hands.
“I think that the next step we’re doing is we’re creating a steering committee to develop a proposal that we can roll out to the community, so we might need people to go and knock on doors all along Dewdney and hand out pamphlets and flyers of information, surveys, questionnaires,” she explains.
“We’re going to need a voluntary body to help out with some of the ground work.”
If students are interested, they can contact BigEagle-Kequahtooway at firstname.lastname@example.org to help bring back the buffalo.