Musqueam Nation Gifts New Name to Vancouver’s Former Trutch Street

The xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Indian Band has renamed a street in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighborhood: Musqueamview Street in English and šxʷməθkʷəy̓əmasəm in the nation’s hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language.

It comes after a unanimous vote by city council in July 2021 replacing the name Trutch Street, located between Bleinheim and Balaclava Street in the western part of the city.

Musqueamview Street runs for 16 blocks, with the north end at the water at Jericho Beach and the south end at Carnarvon Park. The hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ name is pronounced sh-muck-wi-um-awe-sum.

The street — originally named after Joseph Trutch, BC’s first lieutenant governor — was renamed because of Trutch’s racist policies against indigenous peoples, including drastically reduce the size of the reserves and refuse to let Indigenous people buy land from non-indigenous people.

“It’s something that’s been many, many years in the making — probably several decades,” said sʔəyəɬəq (Larry Grant), the manager of the Nation’s language department, at a ceremony Friday to announce the street’s new name. .

Four witnesses joined Grant on Friday as part of a ceremony at the… National Day for Truth and Reconciliation — two from xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, təlnaq̓ə (Alec Guerin) and mən̓eʔɬ (Johnny Louis), and two from the city, Mayor Kennedy Stewart and city manager Paul Mochrie.

“I look forward to the next chapter of this street and what it means for Vancouver,” Mayor Kennedy Stewart said in a statement.

The Kitsilano district includes many important sites for the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm people, including what is now Jericho Beach.

“Our previous councils have been involved in looking for a way to remove and change that Trutch name,” sʔəyəɬəq said. “It’s nothing very beautiful.

“It represents a person who might be called a savage, uncivilized…but developed.”

The new name was the result of a collaboration between the language department of the Band and the municipality, according to a xʷməθkʷəy̓əm statement.

təlnaq̓ə told the ceremony that the witnesses were needed as part of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm tradition, as the nation has not written history for many years and relied on oral history.

He said the city of Vancouver was taking “first steps” in important work as part of reconciliation, and that they were removing a memorial to a racist man and an early colonizer.

“It’s important… that we replace the monument to Trutch with our language, with our identity on our territory,” he said.

“But it’s important that we don’t erase the history we have to remember, not just that we rename it šxʷməθkʷəy̓əmasəm. We must remember that we called him Trutch first.”

A brown man wears an orange shirt with the word 'Musqueamview' on a street sign.
yəχʷyaχʷələq (Wayne Sparrow), head of the Musqueam First Nation, spoke at a ceremony that saw Trutch Street be renamed Musqueamview Street in Vancouver on Sept. 30. (Shawn Foss/CBC)

On the bleak occasion of National Truth and Reconciliation Day, xʷməθkʷəy̓əm Chief yəχʷyaχʷələq (Wayne Sparrow) said that reconciliation was just a word, and that governments must take action to repair the damage done to indigenous peoples.

“Our survivors who have left, our leaders who have left us, I know you look down on us today and this amazing crowd that we have gathered here,” he said.

“Every one of you has a job to do, to continue the work that is being done.”

Streets and settings around BC that were named after Trutch have recently been renamed in the wake of the re-evaluation of his racist and colonizing legacy.

What was in Victoria? once Truts Street is now səʔit Street, pronounced say-eet.

In Richmond, the former Trutch Avenue was renamed after BC’s first native lieutenant governor, Steven Point.

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