Saint John, N.B., city council scraps 'offensive' Indiantown neighbourhood name
The new city council in Saint John, N.B., voted Monday to get rid of the name "Indiantown" for a north end neighbourhood.
SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- An "outdated and offensive" name for a north-end neighbourhood in Saint John, N.B., will soon be replaced following a vote Monday night by city council.
The newly elected council voted unanimously to change the name of the neighbourhood formerly known as Indiantown. The move came after council for the first time began its meeting with a land acknowledgment.
"Last night was a historic night for Saint John to begin with," Mayor Donna Reardon said in an interview Tuesday.
She said renaming the neighbourhood is important because the previous language is no longer appropriate. "It's not how the Indigenous community would identify themselves," she said.
The densely packed neighbourhood is in one of the oldest parts of the city, bordered by the Saint John River and Shamrock Park. It's a significant area for the city's Indigenous populations, as it was once an important portage route and a place of commerce, Reardon said. The city plans to consult with Indigenous groups and leaders on a new name for the area.
"You want to capture the history and you want do it respectfully," she said.
The move to rename the neighbourhood was recommended in a report to council outlining the history of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its calls to action aimed at municipal and local governments. It says the name was raised as an issue during consultations with Indigenous groups.
"The terminology is outdated and offensive," the report says, urging the city to stop using it in its records and communications.
The report says the neighbourhood was named for a trading house built in 1779, which a century later had steamer wharfs, several large sawmills and a population of 1,500.
The Indiantown name can still be found in Google Maps, the Canadian Geographical Names Database and a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation information portal, and the report recommends the city manager take steps to have the name removed from those sources as soon as possible.
Reardon said she has been told the Google Maps change "can happen relatively quickly."
By contrast, the discussions about a new name will likely take a while, because the city is aiming to be careful and thoughtful, she said. In the meantime, people might keep using the old name, Reardon said, but she noted that in her experience, it's not the most common name for the area. "Most people refer to that area as 'the old North End,"' she said.
Monday's council meeting was the first to be held since provincewide municipal elections took place in May.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 15, 2021.
-- By Sarah Smellie in St. John's, N.L.