Name Change Will Not Change Fort George Park
Prince George, B.C. – Fort George Park will be officially renamed Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park.
The recommendation came from Councillor Murry Krause and was supported whole heartedly by Mayor and Council, with the exception of Albert Koehler.
“This is not a new idea, but we acknowledge it has evolved over time” with those words, Councillor Murry Krause made his presentation to Council on why Fort George Park should be renamed to Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park.
“I really do believe that acts of reconciliation need to be extraordinary in order to be sincere ” says Councillor Krause. He says the inclusion of the word ‘Memorial’ was a request by Chief Dominic Frederick because of the known cemetery that is located on the property and the fact there may well be many more Lheidli graves there than have already been identified. Krause says the real shame is that the history of the City has doesn’t tell the story of how the Lheidli people were forced from that site and their homes burned.
Councillor Albert Koehler says this is “an epic thing, and we better get it right”. He says it is important to get it right and discuss it “We have to be fair, at the same time to all concerned” he says the questions remain should it be the Lheidli T’enneh/Fort George Park? He says he would prefer the word ‘memorial’ be left out because the word carries a negative connotation and he would like to see the park named in a manner that would be inclusive. Koehler says he fears a backlash “If we do it too fast.”
Councillor Terri McConnachie “This has caused quite a conversation in our community, I was quite surprised.” She says she has received a great deal of feedback both for and against the idea “We are not erasing or rewriting history here, we are, for the first time, acknowledging it”. She pointed out the only thing that will change is the name. She says interpretative signage from the Heritage Commission would be a positive. She says tweaking the name doesn’t feel right, “It seems disingenuous”.
Councillor Brian Skakun says this matter has created interest throughout the Province “What happened to the Lheidli T’enneh a century ago was horrendous.” He says he will not “pander to both sides” that his position will not change, “It is a controversial decision, and it’s about continuing to build positive relationships with First Nations” He says nothing but the name will change “The grass is still going to be green the water is still going to flow, absolutely nothing will change in the park”.
Councillor Jillian Merrick says she “Very pleased to support the change.”
Councillor Frank Everitt says what he wants all to do is to look at the diversity of the community and build on that “We have an opportunity to rename a park, that doesn’t mean we lose the opportunity for people to go to that park and enjoy it. “We are making one small move to say what happened to you people was wrong” he says this will be seen as a major step that one day will be celebrated “And I want to be part of that.”
“This is not a change, this a restoration” says Councillor Susan Scott “I know the City of Calgary is watching us tonight, as they contemplate the renaming of a bridge.”
Councillor Garth Frizzell says it was five years ago the Heritage Context Survey which repeatedly noted the heritage and contributions of the Lheidli T’enneh “this is a chance to recognize the past”.
Mayor Lyn Hall “This was tough, we make big decisions around this table, I had a phone call today around 4 o’clock from an 89 year old lady, she was concerned she couldn’t pronounce the name, she was not happy about the current cemetery’s current state, she wanted to know if she could still go to the park” Hall says he thought about different names, and the inclusion of the word memorial, “This is not a loss of the park this park is going to remain ” He says he is adamant about the education that needs to be done about the history of the park and agrees with Councillor McConnachie that a watered down version that would make it the Lheidli T’enneh-Fort George Park would be disingenuous.
Council voted unanimously in favour of the second part of the motion which calls for the City to fly the Lheidli T’enneh flag on the grounds of City Hall. A new flag pole will be installed on site to ensure special groups can have the opportunity to fly their special flags for special events.