Victoria council votes to rename Trutch Street to Su’it Street

Victoria council votes to rename Trutch Street to Su'it Street

Victoria council has voted to rename Trutch Street to səʔit Street, or Su’it Street in English letters.

The street signs will be updated to include both the Lekwungen spelling — səʔit — as well as the English spelling — Su’it.

The name was chosen after Elder and Lekwungen language speaker, Dr. Elmer Seniemten George suggested the Lekwungen word for truth, səʔit.

Council had previously recommended renaming the street Truth Street, and after consultation with George, chose to go with the Lekwungen translation.

The street will be renamed due to the street’s namesake, Joseph Trutch, having a controversial history with First Nations in Canada.

Trutch 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.”

READ MORE: Victoria’s Trutch Street about to undergo name change 

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.

When discussing renaming the street, Coun. Ben Isitt noted Trutch played a large role in establishing British Columbia, and therefore deserves to be remembered, but does not deserve to be honoured due to his treatment of First Nations.

“Trutch isn’t someone to be honoured, he’s someone to be remembered, he played a role in B.C.’s entering into Canada and so he certainly should be remembered,” Isitt said in the council meeting. “But place names are a way of honouring individuals, and I don’t think Joseph Trutch meets the threshold for being worth of honour by the municipality.”

During the meeting there was some discussion about the pronunciation of səʔit, so the spelling of Su’it may change through further consultation with the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations.

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 motion says the city will work with all the residents and businesses during the name change.

The vote to rename Trutch Street was passed unanimously at committee of the whole. Staff will now work with Songhees and Esquimalt Nations on any other considerations relating to the name change and to staff to proceed with the administrative requirements for a change of street name and installation of new street signage.

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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