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Geleiwatl Street? Not so fast...

Recognizing Mi'kmaq cultural contributions in street name changes is DIY affair

by Miles Howe

Geleiwatl, in the Mi'kmaq language, means 'to protect', 'to watch over', or 'to keep in safekeeping'. While a lovely word, it is not in fact the new (formal) name of 'Brunswick Street' in Halifax. [Photo: M. Howe]
Geleiwatl, in the Mi'kmaq language, means 'to protect', 'to watch over', or 'to keep in safekeeping'. While a lovely word, it is not in fact the new (formal) name of 'Brunswick Street' in Halifax. [Photo: M. Howe]

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Keen eyes in the north end of Halifax noticed that today someone had pasted a green sticker over the street name 'Brunswick Street' at the corner of Brunswick and Gerrish. The sticker, which almost covers the word 'Brunswick', reads 'Geleiwatl St'. The word Geleiwatl, in the traditional Mi'kmaq language that covers much of Canada's Maritimes provinces, means 'to protect', 'to watch over', or 'to keep in safekeeping', according to the Mikmaq Online dictionary.

A piece of paper, zip-strapped to the Brunswick and Gerrish street pole, offered this as an explanation:

'This is a project by HRM renaming a select number of streets to include more Mi'kmaq language and history in Halifax, recognizing the first peoples on this land and their continuous contribution to our community.

For more information about this [sic] might affect your neighbourhood please go to

www.region.halifax.ns.ca/projects/communitiesanddevelopment/namingproject

Postal delivery will be unaffected

4/13/15'

The url address, however, offers a dead link, which prompted a phone call to the HRM Public Affairs Office. As it turns out, the 'project' is a 'Do It Yourself' campaign, not undertaken or endorsed by municipal government.

“Certainly, to our knowledge, this is not part of any HRM campaign,” notes Tiffany Chase, senior communications advisor with the HRM. “Typically, we would not notify residents of a street name change by placing a sticker on a street sign. This could potentially cause safety issues for First Response vehicles.”

Sticker projects aside, there is an official, bureaucratic, application form that one can fill out to nominate for a change to a street, park or civic property.


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