*Please see below a news release issued by the City of Burlington.
“Sweetgrass is considered a sacred plant to First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples. On its own, it is thin and brittle, but when it is braided together, it becomes stronger – there’s a great message of community in that. I’m thrilled this word resonated with our community and it was selected by the public. The renaming is one more step forward in our healing and learning journey towards Truth and Reconciliation with Indigenous residents in our community.” — Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward
Burlington, Ont. — Jan. 18, 2022 — Burlington City Council has approved the name of Sweetgrass Park to rename Ryerson Park (565 Woodview Rd.) at the Jan. 18, 2022 Council meeting. Sweetgrass is one of the sacred medicines to many First Nations. It is used as a purification medicine in ceremony to purify ourselves and to heal.
Residents were asked to submit names for consideration that reflected the City’s naming policies for City assets that reflect equity, diversity and inclusion consistent with today’s standards. More than 500 names were submitted.
A committee made up of City staff, Indigenous leaders and community stakeholders then selected three options from the submitted names and a fourth naming option was added from Indigenous Elder Stephen Paquette (Sweetgrass Park).
Residents were asked to vote for one of the four options. During the voting phase, 1647 people voted at GetInvolvedBurlington.ca/RenamethisPark. Sweetgrass Park received 40 per cent of the votes.
The name will be effective immediately. Signage will be updated in the coming weeks.
Why did we rename Ryerson Park?
In July 2021, Council unanimously supported the renaming of Ryerson Park and voted to rename the park with public input. This was done in response to finding unmarked graves at residential schools and as a small step to honouring the truth that we are uncovering and reconciling with the past.
Similarly, the Halton District School Board (HDSB) Trustees unanimously approved a motion to rename Ryerson Public School on Woodview Road in Burlington, in accordance with the Board’s Naming and Renaming Schools Policy and Governance Procedure.
At the Nov. 17, 2021 board meeting, Halton District School Board Trustees selected Makwendam Public School as the new name for Ryerson Public School.
Burlington’s Ryerson Public School, and adjacent Ryerson Park, are named after Egerton Ryerson for his contributions to the Ontario education system, however, Ryerson was also instrumental in the design of Canada’s residential school system. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada concluded this assimilation amounted to the genocide of Indigenous people.
For more information on renaming Ryerson Park, please visit getinvolvedburlington.ca/renamethispark.
“I want to thank the whole community for the sincere engagement on this matter. There was significant community feedback both in support and in opposition of the renaming of this public asset and I believe that all opinions were taken seriously into consideration. There was some concern expressed that the history behind the original name of Ryerson Park was being erased, but I trust that the discussion addressed this concern as well as acknowledging the importance of Truth and Reconciliation and resulted in the best decision by Council. The decision to rename this public asset to Sweetgrass Park, representing the symbols of strength, togetherness and healing will best represent the values of our community moving into the future.” — Ward 4 Counc. Shawna Stolte, City of Burlington
Links and Resources:
- Staff report from Environment, Infrastructure & Community Services (EICS) Committee agenda: Item 4.1