Ceremony marks new name for Calgary bridge
Langevin Bridge has now been officially renamed Reconciliation Bridge following a ceremony that took place on Saturday afternoon.
The bridge over the Bow River connecting Memorial Drive and Riverfront Avenue was originally named for Hector-Louis Langevin, one of the fathers of Confederation.
However, Langevin also played a part in one of the darkest facets of Canadian history, the residential school system, the plan that saw thousands of First Nations schoolchildren taken from their families.
The initial push to change the bridge’s moniker began in 2015, when Mayor Nenshi read the report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on residential school abuses.
He said that renaming the bridge would make great strides towards achieving the recommendations of the report.
In 2017, Nenshi and 13 other councillors approved a motion to rename the bridge the Reconciliation Bridge.
On Saturday, Nenshi said that it was a complicated time because on the one hand, it’s a day to remember thousands of children who were taken from their families while on the other a day of a great victory.
“It’s a day, in many ways, of extraordinary sorrow. It’s a day when we remember over 3,000 little boys and girls taken from their families who never came home. It’s a day where we look with open and clear eyes on the great shame of our nation and out community. It’s also a day where we bore witness to an extraordinary victory song.”
First Nations leaders say the newly named bridge will be a symbol that things can change.
“I remain hopeful that these types of considerate actions will continue to take place across this country as we all work towards reconciliation. I ask Canadians to continue to educate themselves on the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Committee,” said Chief Stan Grier of the Piikani First Nation.
A plaque has also been installed on Reconciliation Bridge to explain the history of residential schools, Langevin’s story and the reason for the new name.
There has also been a push to rename Langevin School in Bridgeland, but the Calgary Board of Education says there is a process when it comes to examining school names that includes conversations with an Elder Advisory Council and other stakeholders.
On Monday, Premier Rachel Notley will be holding a ceremony in Edmonton where the Alberta government will formally apologize to the survivors of the Sixties Scoop.
(With files from Alesia Fieldberg)