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A controversial road in the RM of St. Clements has been renamed in the spirit of reconciliation.

Brokenhead Ojibway First Nation and the Rural Municipality of St. Clements worked together to choose a new name for Colonization Road in Libau, Man.

The new name — Reconciliation Road — was officially unveiled with a ceremony and the installation of a new street sign Monday.

“The history of colonization is a painful history for Indigenous people. We know all too well that history — for us, it is a lived experience,” said Brokenhead Chief Deborah Smith.

“It is a history that isn’t found in the history books of our schools, but in the resilience of our elders, of our men, and of our women.

“My hope is that this first step leads us to a greater understanding of what we must do collectively, collaboratively, to evoke transformative change and to create true treaty partnerships between our two levels of government.”

The new name comes more than a year after Earl “Buddy” Prince — the grandson of  Canadian war hero Sgt. Tommy Prince — started the conversation with a social media post asking the St. Clements council to consider renaming the road.

RM of St. Clements Mayor Debbie Fiebelkorn said council then approached Brokenhead’s chief and council for help on how best to move forward.

The two communities took a collaborative approach on the project, which saw the RM quickly get started by creating a new policy on street renaming.

A public hearing was held in March, and St. Clements council officially renamed the road through a bylaw in July.

“This has been a journey and a learning experience for many of us as we move forward on the road to reconciliation,” said Fiebelkorn.

“It is important that we understand the impact of these symbols and recognize the negative impact of colonialism.

“Respect, patience, and courtesy are to be the trademark of our continued relationship.”

As well as adding new signage at the ceremony Monday, a boulder and plaque was placed near the intersection of Reconciliation Road and Hwy 59 to mark the occasion and the partnership between the municipality and the First Nation.

“I’m so happy that Brokenhead Ojibway First Nation played a part in helping dismantle colonial public symbols that normalize colonization,” said Smith.

“We need to work together as treaty partners in the true spirit and intent of Treaty 1, to ensure that the next seven generations will fully realize their rightful place inside this country and within the lands of our ancestors.”

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