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Regina mayor says renaming Dewdney Avenue could cost 'hundreds of thousands'

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The cost of changing all the signage of Dewdney Avenue – should the famous Regina street be renamed one day – could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to Mayor Sandra Masters.

On Wednesday Coun. Andrew Stevens and Coun. Dan LeBlanc brought forward a joint motion to city council calling for the road to be renamed as soon as possible.

The two councillors say the road, named after Edgar Dewdney, honours a person that is a historical figure, “who was directly responsible for the development and administration of harmful policies towards Indigenous Peoples, including establishing and providing oversight for residential schools.”

Masters said she understands the controversy surrounding the name but said when council debates the motion in a few weeks’ time all aspects of the issue will have to be discussed.

“There’s 2,500 businesses and residences along Dewdney Avenue and I understand the difficulty with the name. This is not new information, we knew there was several hundred signatures on a petition a few years ago,” Masters said.

“Really that’s what council is going to have to debate and determine whether or not they want to investigate that at this time,” she added.

According to Masters, the price to change the name of Dewdney Avenue could range from hundreds of thousands of dollars to “not that much.”

“It’s not just about that though, it’s about every resident having to change their addresses on their utility bills, on every credit card statement and so really community consultation will inform back as well as the investigation into what is the actual cost,” Masters said.

Edgar Dewdney was born in 1835 in England and died in 1916. He held many political positions in Canada after arriving in the country in 1859.

In 1881, Dewdney was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the NWT, a position he held in conjunction with that of Indian commissioner. One of his first significant acts in this role was the selection of Regina (Wascana) as the new territorial capital in 1882, according to the University of Saskatchewan. (opens in a new tab).

Dewdney’s use of withholding rations as a device to impose state authority on First Nations is often cited when discussing his controversial status among Canada’s Indigenous population.

The threat of hunger compelled Indigenous peoples to settle on reserves, adopt agriculture and send their children to mission schools.

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