Toronto ceremony celebrates name change of Lower Coxwell to Emdaabiimok Avenue during National Indigenous History Month

From left, Chief of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation Ogimaa-kwe Sault, Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford, Elder Jimmy Dick, Toronto-Danforth Councillor Paula Fletcher, Mayor Olivia Chow, and Toronto-Danforth Toronto District School Board Trustee Sarah Ehrhardt took part in the street naming ceremony on Wednesday, June 19. Photo by Amarachi Amadike.

By AMARACHI AMADIKE

The City of Toronto commemorated National Indigenous History Month by celebrating the changing of the name of Lower Coxwell to Emdaabiimok [Em-dah-bee-muck] Avenue on Wednesday, June 19.

The ceremony, which took place at Emdaabiimok Ave. and Lake Shore Boulevard East, was attended by Mayor Olivia Chow, Toronto-Danforth Councillor Paula Fletcher, Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford, Chief of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation Ogimaa-kwe Sault, Elder Jimmy Dick, as well as students from Kapapamahchakwew (Wandering Spirit School) – an Indigenous school in the City of Toronto, and Toronto-Danforth Toronto District School Board Trustee Sarah Ehrhardt.

“The name points to the history of this land,” said Chow. “It highlights Anishnawbe culture and tradition and is a reminder for anyone who travels on this road that Indigenous people lived on this land thousands of years before us.”

Emdaabiimok, which translates to “where the road goes to the water”, was historically the traditional path used by the Indigenous residents in the area to reach the lake prior to Toronto’s existence.

Chow highlighted that the symbolic renaming serves to create a welcoming city in which Indigenous youth “feel a greater sense of belonging.”

“This is their city,” she said. “They will feel like Toronto can be a home for them.”

The renaming of Lower Coxwell came two years after Toronto-Danforth Councillor Paula Fletcher’s motion at Toronto City Hall on June 29, 2022. The motion was presented to Toronto Council in an attempt to honour the city’s Indigenous history.

Just two days before National Indigenous Peoples Day (on Friday, June 21), city councillors made another stride in their efforts to adhere to Toronto’s Reconciliation Action Plan.

A section of this plan calls for the support for the revitalization of Indigenous languages as well as increased signage across Toronto in Indigenous languages.

“Today we are honouring part of our reconciliation plan,” said Fletcher.

According to the Ward 14 councillor, her motion to rename Lower Coxwell attracted more than 650 letters of support from community members, an achievement she described as “probably the largest outpouring that (she has) seen for a change of name.”

This overwhelming support for the renaming of Lower Coxwell holds symbolic weight as renaming ceremonies are an essential part of Indigenous culture, said those at today’s unveiling ceremony.

“When you receive your name, there’s a whole protocol set in motion and a series of events that need to take place beforehand,” said Chief Sault.

Sault said that such renaming ceremonies encompasses the Indigenous community’s oneness with the land.

Chow reminded those in attendance at today’s ceremony that there is “more work that we all need to do to achieve justice and reconciliation.”


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