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Controversy over Blackfoot names for new Calgary development
Published Monday, March 7, 2016 4:23PM MST
Last Updated Monday, March 7, 2016 8:07PM MST
The names proposed for a new development next to Canada Olympic Park could be hard to pronounce in English.
When the new development was approved earlier this year, Trinity Development Group consulted with Blackfoot elders and decided on the name Medicine Hill in English for the neighbourhood. The name honours the Blackfoot history of the area.
But in January, the city’s planning commission said to truly honour the Blackfoot, the name should be in their language: Aiss ka pooma.
Council decided late on Monday to use the English version of the name.
The commission also wants to use names in the Blackfoot language for the street names. They are:
- Natooyii (sacred)
- Na'a (Mother Earth)
- Saatoohtsi (west)
- Piita (eagle)
City Councilor Ward Sutherland, who has a Metis background, says it's best to have the name of the community in English.
“If you have Medicine Hill, it still has the meaning, and then within the community with the different streets, there are only a total of four streets, it’s really not an issue and it’s very respectful,” said Sutherland.
Some people walking in the Paskapoo slopes area liked the idea but said the street names might cause confusion.
“I think it’s wonderful that you are, but I don’t know if anyone is going to be able to pronounce them until they hear it,” said Sue Scully.
“I think it’s important to honour their culture, but at the same time you have to take into account tourists and people from out of the city who are not familiar, and trying to describe directions to them, especially on a major interchange like that, I don’t think is probably the best idea,” said Greg Leach.
“I think it’s awesome to incorporate the aboriginal language into the new streets, it’s great,” said Lydia Chiasson.
City council is considering the issue but has not yet made a decision about the street names.