A riding with an Indigenous name in the heart of Toronto

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A riding with an aboriginal name in the heart of Toronto

High Park is Toronto's largest park.

Parkdale–High Park, west of Toronto, could become Taiaiako'n–High Park if the proposal from the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission passed.

The name Taiaiako'n refers to the Mohawk and Seneca village that stood at Baby Point on the Humber River about 400 years ago.

Renaming the Toronto riding is part of a Canada-wide effort by the commission to highlight the historic presence of Indigenous peoples in certain areas, as was the case in the territory later became the neighborhoods of Parkdale and High Park.

The presence of Indigenous peoples in these two neighborhoods in west Toronto dates back to the era of the Meadowood cultures, a few thousand years ago, according to Catherine Tammaro of the Spotted Turtle Clan.

The whole area was very frequented by indigenous peoples. I understand that people had been traveling between Rice Lake [east of Toronto] and Serpent Mound, Ohio for a very long time. From there a trade route developed, there is evidence of this trade in the park, says Ms. Tommaro.

Although Taiaiako'n was a village where Mohawks and Senecas lived, Catherine Tammaro points out that High Park and Parkdale are traditional territories of the Wendat people. She qualifies the territory as being a space shared between indigenous peoples.

She says she is impressed that a non-indigenous government body has made this proposal.

“As a Wendat person, there are usually consultations with key players. I don't know if there were any in this case, but I'm in favor of this change and happy that native names are being offered.

—Little Turtle Clan member Catherine Tammaro

Parkdale-High Park MLA Bhutila Karpoche is also in favor of adding Taiaiako 'n in the name of the constituency. However, she does not believe the change should come at the expense of the Parkdale neighborhood name.

New Democrat MP Bhutila Karpoche would prefer the addition of Taiaiako'n not come at the expense of the Parkdale name.

It is important to recognize the history of Indigenous peoples on our territory and in our community. I support the inclusion of an Aboriginal name in our constituency […] but it need not be done at the expense of the Parkdale name.

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The MP believes that we must also celebrate the origins of Parkdale, a district that was the first destination of several groups of immigrants and represents a diversity of socio-economic classes and resists gentrification.

The exclusion of Parkdale doesn't hold up geographically, she adds, since Taiaiako'n and High Park are not areas of the neighborhood. She therefore proposes that the name Taiaiako'n be simply added to Parkdale and High Park.

“Constituencies with three names are not uncommon. We proposed to the commission to include the Aboriginal name – we believe we should give more places Aboriginal names – but also to keep Parkdale and High Park in our name.

— Bhutila Karpoche, MPP for Parkdale–High Park

MP Arif Virani agrees with his provincial counterpart.

I applaud the efforts of the Ontario commission to advance reconciliation with the Indigenous peoples of our territory […] Nevertheless, it is crucial that Parkdale remain in the name so that residents are expected and represented in the House of Commons, says Virani.

Several residents we met on Jameson and King Streets West shared this view: Parkdale should remain in the riding name.

Parkdale's roots run deep, the constituency must keep Parkdale in the name. That said, I'm in favor and would like to see the Aboriginal name associated with the riding, says Barbara Poplawski, a neighborhood resident and former school trustee for the Toronto Catholic Board.

Parkdale is one of Toronto's most diverse neighborhoods.

I love Parkdale, I love the name Parkdale and what the neighborhood stands for. I also believe in respecting the land and who owns it and I'm happy with the proposed change, says Leanne Hyland, who has lived in Parkdale for four years.

Catherine Tammaro is from agrees: she believes the name Parkdale represents the diversity of the area and the different communities that have settled there, including Roma and Tibetans.

But for her, who is also a member of the committee working to rename Dundas Street, the commission's proposal is just the start. The city's parks and streets should also be renamed to recognize the region's Indigenous history, she said.

Our Indigenous peoples are a pride, we have a long history in the region and I think we should receive the recognition we deserve. We took a lot from the aboriginals; renaming these places not only helps in reconciliation but also in telling their story

“There is immense power that is associated with renaming a place. »

— Catherine Tammaro

The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario will submit its report by December, which will then be studied in committee parliamentary. Constituency names and boundaries are expected to be formalized in April 2024.

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