Sweetgrass chosen as new name for Burlington park formerly named after Egerton Ryerson


Published January 18, 2022 at 4:09 pm

One of the last vestiges of the Egerton Ryerson name has been erased from Burlington.

Sweetgrass is the new name of the park formerly named for the disgraced founder of Ryerson University.

Sweetgrass Park is located at 565 Woodview Rd. beside what used to be Ryerson Public School, but is now called Makwendam Public School.

Sweetgrass is one of the sacred medicines to many First Nations. It is used as a medicine in ceremonies to purify and heal.

“Sweetgrass is considered a sacred plant to First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples. On its own, it is thin and brittle, but when it is braided together, it becomes stronger – there’s a great message of community in that,” said Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward.

“I’m thrilled this word resonated with our community and it was selected by the public. The renaming is one more step forward in our healing and learning journey towards truth and reconciliation with Indigenous residents in our community.”

Of the four options on the city website for the park renaming, Sweetgrass received about 40 per cent of the vote.

The name will be effective immediately and signage will be updated in the coming weeks.

“I want to thank the whole community for the sincere engagement on this matter. There was significant community feedback both in support and in opposition of the renaming of this public asset and I believe that all opinions were taken seriously into consideration,” said Shawna Stolte, Ward 4 councillor.

“There was some concern expressed that the history behind the original name of Ryerson Park was being erased, but I trust that the discussion addressed this concern. The decision to rename this public asset to Sweetgrass Park, representing the symbols of strength, togetherness and healing will best represent the values of our community moving into the future.”

The renaming of both the park and school came about over the summer as public knowledge regarding Egerton Ryerson’s contribution to the residential school system grew. It came to a head as hundreds of bodies of children who were forced to attend those schools were uncovered.

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