After some debate on whether the renamed street should carry a phonetic spelling of the Lekwungen word for truth, council voted to direct staff to return with a bylaw to rename Trutch Street to Su’it Street.
This motion gives staff the direction to consult with local First Nations on any further considerations, including the proper spelling of Su’it, before bringing an official bylaw to council to commence the changing process for the street.
Su’it, pronounced say-eet, was chosen in consultation with Elder and Lekwungen language speaker, Dr. Elmer Seniemten George.
Mayor Lisa Helps noted the spelling Su’it was sent to her in an email from George, and she noted there will be a learning curve for people to learn the proper pronunciation.
“We’ll have to figure out how to make our mouths make the right sound,” Helps said. “But we do want to have a word that everyone can pronounce, but that’s going to ask us all to learn a Lekwungen word and figure out how to pronounce that consistently.”
Coun. Sarah Potts noted some of the confusion around the pronunciation of the word was due to colonization which resulted in language loss in First Nations communities.
“We all are relearning and some of us are seeing this language for the first time, some folks learning languages that they didn’t get an opportunity to learn,” Potts said. “So I think we should just be comfortable with the uncomfortableness that we are having to approach this differently because we are doing work in reconciliation through this as well.”
Coun. Geoff Young raised concerns with the spelling of Su’it, saying people will pronounce the word differently than how it is meant to be, noting this issue happens with places like Edinburgh and Leiceister.
“It’s going to be pronounced ‘soo-it’ because that is what people will have to tell their friends if they want to be able to if they want their friends to arrive at their door, it’s what they’re gonna have to tell the FedEx people if they want the package to arrive,” Young said. “The answer is to use a spelling that reflects the pronunciation that we want people to use.”
Coun. Stephen Andrew put forward an amendment to strike the spelling Su’it from the motion, and direct staff to come forward with a bylaw to change the name to the Lekwungen word for “Truth” Street. All councillors except Andrew and Young voted against the amendment.
Next steps are for staff to consult with Songhees and Esquimalt Nations on cultural considerations for renaming the street, and inform residents and businesses on the street of the pending change.
Once this process is complete, staff will return to council with a bylaw for the name change to take place.