Sun. Oct 24th, 2021

“It’s a community trail and I want to make the trail a place that everyone feels safe getting to.”

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Ottawa’s SJAM Winter Trail has been renamed.

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In a quiet ceremony Thursday afternoon near Remic Rapids, which included a cloth of buffalo sage offered by Algonquin’s elder and Ottawa’s Poet Laureate, Albert Dumont, the popular trail was renamed the Kichi Sibi Winter Trail.

“Groomer Dave” Adams, who established the winter trail next to Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway in 2015, said the idea of ​​renaming the crystallized last spring after the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, was instrumental in establishing Canada’s residential school system.

Since then, statues of Macdonald have been toppled and removed, and there has been public pressure to remove his name from schools, parks and roads. In June, three Ottawa city councilors wrote a letter urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to rename the parkway, and an online petition to change the name has garnered thousands of signatures.

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“I started thinking, ‘Maybe it’s time for me to be proactive about this and show some solidarity,'” said Adams, who brought the matter to the board of the Dovercourt Recreation Association, which supports the winter trail.

“They said, ‘Dave, that’s the right thing to do.’ It is a community trail and I want to make the trail a place that everyone feels safe getting to. And having a name that people find offensive is against what I’re trying to achieve. ”

Dumont says he brushes off when he sees Macdonald’s name.

“Canada’s first prime minister seemed appropriate to end by force the most innocent and the purest people – children – and bring them to a place where they could be emotionally destroyed and spiritually destroyed,” Dumont said. “That was not right.”

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“I’m a man who gets a lot of emotional and spiritual benefits from walking a trail, no matter what time of year,” Dumont said. “A track is good for people. It really is medicine, but when it’s called Sir John A. Macdonald Trail, I do not get these benefits. I do not think I would get the emotional and spiritual benefits on a track named after that guy. ”

'Groomer Dave' Adams soils people who attended Thursday's ceremony for the new name Kichi Sibi Winter Trail.
‘Groomer Dave’ Adams soils people who attended Thursday’s ceremony for the new name Kichi Sibi Winter Trail. Photo by Jean Levac /Postmedia

Kichi Sibi is the traditional Algonquin name for the Ottawa River and translates as the Great River, Dumont said.

“It gave everything. There were all kinds of food sources there – ducks, fish, musk. And it provided passage for everyone from the very old to the very young. ”

Adams also unveiled a new logo for the trail, created by graphic designer Glen Gobuyan. The stylized design evokes an image of snow on evergreen branches and the low winter sun, he explained.

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“It reminds us to get the most out of the sunshine on a short winter day,” Gobuyan said.

The Kichi Sibi Winter Trail has 16 kilometers of groomed trails for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and winter biking. It stretches from the Canadian War Museum to Westboro Beach. In February last year, the trail attracted more than 1,300 visits a day, and it has inspired other community-led winter trails in Britannia, Kanata, Orléans and along the Rideau River.

Meanwhile, board members of the National Capital Commission last week were briefed on a potential name change to Sir John A. Macdonald parkway, which until 2012 was known as the Ottawa River Parkway.

“In the spirit of reconciliation, we intend to work with our Algonquin partners during the fall and winter months,” NCC said in an email statement Thursday. More information on a new name will be available “over time,” NCC said.

The new logo for the Kichi Sibi Winter Trail, designed by Glen Gobuyan.
The new logo for the Kichi Sibi Winter Trail, designed by Glen Gobuyan. Photo by Handout

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