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Jan. 27, 2022 | Thursday
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Ryerson Park likely to get name change, mayor says
The town will consult with the Niagara Regional Native Centre on new name, says Lord Mayor Betty Disero. (File)

Town to consult with native centre on new name


As NOTL grapples with Canada's scandal over the history of residential schools, the town's Ryerson Park may soon see its name changed.

While the nation continues to reckon with its violent residential school history, Lord Mayor Betty Disero acknowledged the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s failure to address the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the past and hopes it can do more in the future.

In 2016, the town declared a year of reconciliation in hopes of taking meaningful action on issues that Indigenous Peoples in Canada and Niagara face.

Nothing much came from that, according to Karl Dockstader, executive director of the Niagara Regional Native Centre on Airport Road in NOTL.

There wasn’t any “substantive action,” he told The Lake Report.

Disero, a councillor in 2016, put forward that motion but admits the town has not followed through.

“I could have done more,” Disero said in an interview.

That is changing and the town will be meeting with representatives from the native centre in about two weeks to talk about the “recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation commission and to see what the town can do,” she said.

While Disero refrained from offering specifics until the talks have taken place, she said the name of Ryerson Park could soon change.

She confirmed that the park was named after Egerton Ryerson, criticized as one of the architects of the residential school system, and that renaming the park will possibly be addressed at council's next committee of the whole meeting.

“We need to work with the Niagara Regional Native Centre on a new name,” she said.

Disero did not want to stop at renaming the park for fear of erasing an important part of the residential school narrative.

“We also need to have some sort of posting or identification as to why it was changed,” she said.

“That way we’re not just cancelling out the park, we’re actually explaining to people what happened in our history.”

A growing number of people across the country also have called for Canada Day celebrations to be cancelled.

NOTL’s official Canada Day plans already have been cancelled because of COVID, Disero said.

She said municipal flags are remaining at half-mast to honour the thousands of children whose remains have been discovered on residential school properties across the country.