Victoria City Council will vote Thursday on whether or not to rename Trutch Street, whose namesake carries a controversial legacy for his role in damaging Indigenous communities.
While Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps had previously suggested renaming the Fairfield neighbourhood road to “Truth Street,” a report from city staff is recommending it be called Su’it Street, reflecting the Lekwungen word for “truth.”
Last year, concerned citizens delivered a petition to council urging the name change because of the racist legacy of Joseph Trutch — a prominent politician once responsible for dramatically reducing Indigenous reserves in B.C. in the mid-1800s. He was also well-known for his racist views towards Indigenous people.
Council directed staff to report back on the implications of renaming the street back in June 2021.
The report says that all addressed on Trutch Street were invited to provide feedback on the proposed name change, and out of 31 responses, 21 indicated support for renaming it, while eight supported the change but not the proposed name of “Truth Street.”
“This was primarily related to the uncertainty around the relevance of the name to local First Nations,” the report said.
The chiefs and councils of the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations were also asked to provide feedback and proposed the word su’it be used in the name. Street signs would include both the Lekwungen (səʔit) and English spellings of the word.
The report says there are no direct costs associated with Trutch Street residents changing their address with government agencies, and any financial impacts could be covered within the existing budget.
City staff also recommended that council seek input from Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations “on any further cultural considerations relating to the renaming process.”
The motion will be heard by council on Thursday.