A petition launched by a group of University of Victoria students calls for the renaming of Trutch Street. (Google Maps)

A petition launched by a group of University of Victoria students calls for the renaming of Trutch Street. (Google Maps)

Campaign to get racist name off Victoria street getting online support

UVic students say Trutch Street puts racist history on a pedestal

A group of University of Victoria students have launched a petition to rename a Fairfield street as an act of decolonization.

The online campaign asks the city to remove Joseph Trutch’s name from Trutch Street, a road spanning from Richardson Street to Fairfield Road.

Joseph Trutch created oppressive policies that displaced Indigenous peoples across B.C. Historians have documented Trutch’s active anti-Indigenous and racist attitude as well as his efforts to remove Indigenous peoples’ land rights and autonomy.

RELATED: B.C. First Nation makes claim for sale of reserve lands 150 years ago

The campaign, launched by University of Victoria students Jade Baird, Rachel Dufort, Sicily Fox, and Ashley Yaredic for a class on decolonization, says the street signs honour that negative history.

“They represent a colonial history and there was a lot of genocide in that history,” Baird says. “I would hope Victoria is the kind of city that doesn’t want to put racism on a pedestal.”

On its website, the Victoria Heritage Foundation says Trutch was born in 1826 in England. He worked as a civil engineer and came to Victoria with his wife in 1859, the foundation says, at which time they had their home built on what would become Trutch Street. Trutch was elected to the Vancouver Island Legislative Assembly in 1862 and was appointed surveyor-general for B.C. in 1864.

But in that role Trutch helped to systematically shrink Indigenous reserves.

“Trutch was a racist that put his racism into policy which forever shaped the Indigenous Peoples rights to their land in British Columbia and beyond,” says the students’ petition.

READ ALSO: Victoria to remove Sir John A. Macdonald statue from City Hall

During a 2003 land claims workshop at the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, Bruce Granville Miller, a professor at the University of B.C., called Trutch repressive, and lamented the use of his name for a separate street in Vancouver. Trutch reduced reserve land by 92 per cent during his work as commissioner of lands, Miller said.

“He believed the Indians have really no rights to the lands they claim, nor are they of any actual value or utility to them.”

Removing the namesake street is a small step, Baird says, but an important one.

“There’s always so many concerns about erasing history but we’re not taking him out of the history books,” Baird says. “We have a colonial history and it’s always going to be part of our history but we don’t need to put them on a pedestal.”

The campaign had garnered more than 300 signatures as of March 16. The group hopes to present the petition to Victoria council on March 25.

In 2017 the University of Victoria renamed a residence building that bore the name of Joseph Trutch after student Lisa Schnitzler wrote a research paper on him and compared it with UVic’s policies.

At that time the university said in a release that Trutch’s “negative approach to the land rights of First Nations people and disregard for their concerns” conflict with its “mission, vision and values.”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

READ ALSO: University of Victoria renames building bearing name of alleged racist politician


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: nina.grossman@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

historyracismVictoria

Just Posted

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

The City of Victoria is hoping to ring in the summer by celebrating local art and offering some distanced, live music to surprise people in parks, plazas and other public spaces. (Photo courtesy of the City of Victoria)
Live, pop-up concerts and local art being showcased in Victoria this summer

People will see surprise serenades at 16 locations throughout the summer

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

Jada Benwell and Connor Larkey are the valedictorians of the 2021 graduating class at Parkland Secondary School. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Pandemic taught lessons in perseverance for North Saanich high schoolers

Parkland Secondary School to release 2021 grad ceremony video on June 25

The 14th annual Oak Bay Young Exceptional Star (YES) awards June 3. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay celebrates its Young Exceptional Stars with outdoor award ceremony

Nine young people recognized in 14th annual awards

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read