Some are calling for Wolseley Avenue and two schools bearing the moniker of 19th-century military leader Garnet Wolseley be renamed for the Métis people who lived in what is now Manitoba instead.
A petition titled ‘Wolseley was a cop’ has made the rounds online since its creation a week ago — more than 2,000 people have signed as of Wednesday.
Wolseley commanded the Red River Expeditionary Force in 1870 which fought against the Louis Riel-led Red River Rebellion.
The petition requests the city and school divisions rename the avenue and schools “in honour of the Métis people who so courageously resisted Wolseley’s invasion and who lost their lives for the cause.”
The avenue — for which the neighbourhood is also named — runs along the Assiniboine River from Raglan Road to Furby Street.
The schools include Wolseley School at 511 Clifton Avenue — which is a historic site, according to the Manitoba Historical Society, and Lord Wolseley Elementary at 939 Henderson Highway.
Wolseley “incited anti-Indigenous racism among the 1,400 soldiers he commanded, white men who unleashed a racist reign of terror — including serial rape and lynching,” the petition reads further.
Global News has requested comment from the Winnipeg School Division and the River East Transcona School Divisions, regarding the call to rename the schools.
The calls to rename Wolseley come amid weeks of anti-racism protests and renewed discussions around statues of colonial figures in Canada — people have started petitions to remove statues of John A. MacDonald in Kingston, Ont., and Montreal, Que., in recent weeks.
Statues of the first prime minister were covered in red paint in Baden Township, Ont., and in Charlottetown, P.E.I.
In 2018, Victoria B.C.’s city council voted to remove that city’s Macdonald statue.
Macdonald’s role in the creation of residential schools where thousands of Indigenous children were forcibly placed, abused and even died sparked the calls to remove the statue in Prince Edward Island’s capital, the Canadian Press wrote recently.
Meanwhile, a Queen Victoria statue on Manitoba’s Legislative grounds was covered in white paint overnight Tuesday — before it was pressure sprayed off.
A staffer in the Winnipeg Police Service’s information office said in an email they had no information on the matter when asked whether the incident was reported as vandalism and whether police are investigating.
In January, Winnipeg’s city council adopted policy meant to guide decision-making on requests to remove or rename historical markers and place names as a means of “resolving the absence of Indigenous perspectives, experiences, and contributions in the stories remembered and commemorated,” a June 23 city press release reads.
The policy dictated a new community committee — Welcoming Winnipeg Committee — be created. The city will accept applications for membership on the committee until July 17, with committee members expected to have knowledge of Winnipeg’s history and the impacts of colonialism.
The recent city media release notes the yet-to-be-formed nine-person committee is tentatively meant to hold its first meeting August 12, before it will consider requests to rename places in the city.
The committee will present recommendations to city hall’s executive policy committee and city council, which will have the final say on whether a given place will be renamed.
When asked about the Wolesley petition, Mayor Brian Bowman’s press secretary said in an email Wednesday that Bowman has not personally seen any renaming petitions but noted the normal process would see the petitions delivered and registered at the city clerk’s office.
“For over a year, the City of Winnipeg has been leading proactive community dialogue regarding historical markers and place names in our community,” the emailed statement from press secretary Jeremy Davis reads in part.
— with files from the Canadian Press
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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