Editor's note: anti-sesquipedalian

Response to an Op-Ed regarding the name change of a Saskatoon road from the name of a Prime Minister to a phrase in Cree

A Tale of two roads
I read on Google news the other day a story of two contractors who were sick and tired of driving their equipment around a large wall that impeded their access to their work site.

I appreciate Pete submitting letters like the above.

They are often his hot take on a topic, or a response to someone else's. He makes some good points here with regard to considering all angles before making a decision, but I think the angle Saskatoon Council took is determined and acute. Having said that, I think this comparison is a bit unbalanced, an inelegant metaphor, to say the least. Is MacDonald the Chinese Wall? (should remain unchanged) And is the Cree name the Chinese road? (the thing changing...the thing) And is the Saskatoon Council the Chinese contractors? Or are the contractors the Romans?

As an editor, I know this story is suffering from an arrangement problem. Pete is trying to address two media stories separately - 1) Saskatoon street renaming vs. not considering the positive actions of the street's emeritus namesake. And 2) Great Wall of China knocker-downers vs. the Fall of the Roman Empire (ultimately leading to the rise of Christianity, something the Chinese would come to appreciate). But the Chinese story is bracketing the Saskatoon story, when it should start afterwards.

The Chinese contractors aren’t lobbying to change history; they punched a hole in it. Their motivations were practical, not political. Two P words that are rarely synonymous, though both can be inconsiderate at times.

Pontificating wokeism seems a stretch when ignorance or laziness is a much more simple explanation. Changing the Future will never change the past, and that’s all the Saskatoon council is doing by making a change going forward. Saskatoon’s history will show that the name was changed BECAUSE we learned new information about the past, who was there, and what the result was in our present.

Existentially speaking, updating the name of a road should be inconsequential to those unaffected by the residential school system but a huge step in the right direction for the families of, and the people raped and murdered in its wake. 

 I would also argue that Cree is not difficult to pronounce; it is only difficult for monoglotic philistines to read. In this case, it’s only one more syllable than the current name, and if the people living on that road want to put “unable to pronounce medium-long words” on their resume, I think they should go ahead and update their LinkedIn. I, for one, am not anti-sesquipedalian.

FYI, the Cree name for the road is miyo-wâhkôhtowin Road. Pronounced "mee-yo wah-KOH'-toh-win." meaning "good relationship."

You’ve memorized the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody, you know the name of the boy-star of 1990 Christmas film - Home Alone, and you can order a seasonal beverage at Starbucks, so you can certainly parrot back the street name by ear, which, by the way, is also most of the name of the school on that street and has been since September 2020, wâhkôhtowin School. Formerly Confederation Park School. 

The word Saskatoon is also rooted in the Cree language even though the city was originally founded by a man named “John Lake,” a name so incredibly boring even the White Man agreed to just call it by the Cree word.

John Lake, upon hearing the name of the local berry, Famously declared, “Arise Saskatoon Queen of the North.” He was most likely saddened to hear that a woman had already named another city for the Queen; it’s further south and bears no fruit.

“White man the” might as well prepend every numbered road in Canada. “White man the 1st...Avenue, White man the 5th....Street.” and so forth. And when two or more white men dispute which one has more of a right to have a road named after them, they can throw an initial “A” or a “B” behind the number the same way privileged white families do when naming their male offsprings as a way to differentiate them during the reading of a Will when it comes time to distribute the generational wealth accumulated by stealing land from aboriginals.