To reflect the controversial past Trutch Street’s namesake has with Indigenous people, the City of Victoria has renamed the street Su’it Street.
Su’it, pronounced say-eet, is the Lekwungen word for truth. The street signs also include the Lekwungen spelling, səʔít.
The name was chosen in consultation with the city, Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations. Elder and Lekwungen language speaker, Dr. Elmer Seniemten George also provided insight into selecting the name.
“It took a while, we had to try and find the right words. But, the only thing we could come up with is su’it. The truth,” said George while speaking at the naming ceremony.
The started in 2017 with a petition from a group of University of Victoria students.
“It’s about decolonization and we hope this represents a shift in values for Victoria,” said Jade Baird, UVic student.
READ MORE: Victoria council votes on directing staff to rename Trutch Street, Su’it Street
The street originally was named after Joseph Trutch who was the first Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia from 1871 to 1876, and he played an active role in the dispossession of Indigenous Peoples land in Canada, according to The Colonial Despatches Team at UVic.
“Most notably, he created the Indian Land Policy of 1864 and falsified records from the former Governor Douglas, to radically decrease the amount of land for reserves,” the UVic team says on their website. “He left a lasting political legacy of land negotiations that are only beginning to be resolved in the twenty-first century.”
Trutch had the amount of land for First Nations reserves reduced from 100 acres to 10 acres without providing any form of compensation, according to The Colonial Despatches Team.
First Nations members say that this change is a sign of hope for future generations.
“I think it’s going to be huge for our kids, our younger generations, our future leaders to see our traditional word—a street named after truth here,” said Margeret Charlie, Elected Councillor for the Songhees First Nation.
“I think that’s going to be amazing for them because they’re the ones that are going to carry this work forward.”
Mayor Lisa Helps says council does not have other name changes in their immediate agenda, adding that other work to fix issues stemming from colonization is a priority.
“What I think is most important to them is housing—on and off reserves, language revitalization, food for their kids, daycare,” Helps said. “What I understand from the Nations is that they want to continue on with the real work.”
On the street, there are 116 addresses registered to Trutch Street including private homes, suites in house conversions, and one multifamily residential building with 32 units. Twelve business licenses are registered to Trutch Street, the majority being housing rentals.
The city hasn’t provided a timeline of when official directories—such as utility bills and maps—will see the name change. Helps says it will happen at no cost to residents.