“The long answer is we’re very supportive of the way that process began,” said Erin McDonald, the chair of the Naming Committee. “The follow-through that community took to nurture a conversation that was very difficult to the point… where we approved in principle our support for the name and that will come to council.”
The Naming Committee was at City Hall to report on its progress. In 2021, the City adopted a new strategy for place names. “Indigenous naming, fostering relationships with Indigenous communities as well as diversity and inclusion are now centred in naming practice.”
But the Commitee said it has many hurdles to overcome, including the very white makeup of its membership. It wants to diversify its membership, but that requires more outreach in Edmonton’s various communities. The terms of the Naming Committee members expire at the end of April, 2024.
The Naming Committee also has a list of pre-approved names that are on a waiting list to be placed on parks, streets or other City assets. Some of those names have been on the list for years, and there is debate on how to re-examine those candidates, now that the naming rules have changed. Or, should the waiting list simply be wiped clean, and the City starts again?
The committee is going through the process of collecting all the data about the placenames in what they have so far. But, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi noted that, of the stats gathered so far, 57 per cent of the named places are for men, while just seven per cent are named for women. Many other place names come from geography, animals or other non-human sources.