Lheidli T’enneh First Nation is pleased with Prince George City Council’s decision to change the name of O’Grady Road to Dakelh Ti during Monday night’s council meeting.
Members of the Lheidli T’enneh Elders Society, who proposed the name Dakelh Ti, met at the Lheidli T’enneh offices to express their gratitude that the name was changed.
“We have 77,000 people in Prince George and the Lheidli T’enneh Nation is part and parcel of that and really connected to the community and throughout the years have found that we have been really supported by what is happening with the awareness, the education, and the knowledge that is going on,” said Darlene McIntosh, Acting President of Lheidli T’enneh Elders Society.
“We are open and we are inclusive. We are not exclusive and we are building such a beautiful relationship with our community and that is a positive thing.”
The new name means First Nations Road and McIntosh said it was selected to acknowledge not only Lheidli T’enneh’s members but all Carrier peoples in the region.
She also said that the name represents the path of truth and reconciliation.
“We have this history that has to be acknowledged, shared and brought into awareness but also we are a people that are thriving today through hard work and the support of our Elders, and the support of our Chief and council, and we are moving forward in a good way.”
The name change came after city council passed a resolution on July 12, 2021 to rename the road, following a request by Lheidli T’enneh Chief Dolleen Logan.
Logan requested the name change following the discovery of the unmarked graves of 215 children found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
O’Grady Road was named after Bishop John Fergus O’Grady who was a principal at the Kamloops Indian Residential School from 1939 until 1952. He later opened Prince George College in 1960 in Prince George which eventually became O’Grady Catholic High School.
“The fact that our members and other Dakelh people from the region had to travel on O’Grady Road to shop in stores in the area only heightened the bad memories and reawakened trauma of the residential schools,” said McIntohsh.
“To this day we still have Elders that cannot speak about their experiences they can’t no matter what you say to them there is trauma there and it is stuck in the body and results in health issues and mental issues and it goes on and on.”
She said the name change will help reduce the ongoing trauma of residential schools that many Indigenous people feel on a day-to-day basis.
“Travelling now on Dakelh Ti to shop will help us move on from this horrific history that is part of Bishop O'Grady’s legacy. We will never forget the children who didn’t make it home from residential schools across the country but the decision of the Prince George council to respect and honour our request to change the name is a positive step forward on our journey towards truth and reconciliation.”
This is not the first name change the road has undergone. The former name of O’Grady Road was College Road. City council approved naming the road after Bishop O’Grady on April 10, 1989.
- with files from Arthur Williams