Today, North York Community Council voted to name a new City of Toronto community recreation centre and library for the Wendat word Ethennonnhawahstihnen’. Once opened, it will become the first City community recreation centre and library branch in Toronto to be named in collaboration with the Huron-Wendat Nation.
The Wendat word Ethennonnhawahstihnen’ (pronounced Etta-nonna wasti-nuh) means “where they had a good, beautiful life” and was first suggested by the Huron-Wendat Nation for the nearby park and lane. The location, near Bayview and Sheppard Avenues in North York, is adjacent to a significant Huron-Wendat archaeological site where findings showed that inhabitants lived long and healthy lives in relative peace.
The new, multi-use facility is under construction at 100 Ethennonnhawahstihnen’ Ln., located within the Concord Park Place community that will be home to 10,000 residents across 20 residential towers when the development is completed. The facility, currently scheduled to open in early 2023, will include a community recreation centre, a new Toronto Public Library (TPL) branch and a childcare centre.
In October 2019, North York Community Council approved renaming the street and adjacent park (formerly called “Woodsy”) to Ethennonnhawahstihnen’ Lane and Ethennonnhawahstihnen’ Park. Public consultations at the time showed strong support for the renaming which was considered a meaningful recognition and Indigenous placemaking, as well as a step towards the advancement of reconciliation.
Staff from the City and TPL explored extending this name to the new facility with the Huron-Wendat Nation as a means of building upon and deepening the community efforts and engagement undertaken to commemorate the importance of this site. The City and TPL have also communicated with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation about these efforts and presented this work to the City of Toronto Aboriginal Affairs Advisory Committee on January 14, where the name was endorsed. The Huron-Wendat Nation wrote to the City in support of the name, and stressed the importance and meaning in the giving of names in their tradition. .
Staff from the City and TPL are currently working with the Huron-Wendat Nation on a plan to commission Indigenous public artwork and historical and cultural interpretative content at the new site as a further placemaking effort.
The City recognizes that Indigenous placemaking and reconciliation does not end with a name and is committed to working with Indigenous communities to explore further opportunities for Indigenous placemaking, placekeeping and programming at this new facility, and elsewhere.
“Thank you to the Huron-Wendat Nation as well as City staff and the local community for coming together and seeing this special and meaningful opportunity to honour the culture and history of Indigenous Peoples in a very public way. I want to thank Councillor Carroll for her local leadership on this naming and her commitment to the reconciliation process. I am confident that, when planning public spaces and amenities across the city, we will continue find ways to contribute to the advancement of truth, justice and reconciliation.”
– Mayor John Tory
“The Huron-Wendat Nation is proud of the City of Toronto’s significant gesture of respect and honour for our history, culture and language. We thank Mayor Tory and the City of Toronto Councillors for their recognition of the immense heritage left by our ancestors at “Ethennonnhawahstihnen'”, a place where they had a good and beautiful life. This is a sign of what true reconciliation is all about.”
– Chief Rémy Vincent, Grand Chief, Huron-Wendat Nation
“What makes this site unique is the unusually long and healthy lives of the Indigenous peoples who called this land home hundreds of years ago—a pattern that continues even today. Naming the community centre in line with the street and park continues an important piece of Indigenous placemaking and reflects our community’s commitment to move towards Truth & Reconciliation.”
– Councillor Shelley Carroll (Don Valley North)
“I am impressed by the extensive work and collaboration by all parties to bring forward an appropriate and deeply meaningful name for this new community facility. The Wendat word Ethennonnhawahstihnen’ honours and acknowledges the people who first established a community on the land and encourages the wellbeing of the new community soon to be built here.”
– Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee
“It’s been an honour to come together with the Huron-Wendat First Nation, TPL’s Indigenous Advisory Council and City of Toronto staff on the naming of this new library branch. Ethennonnhawahstihnen’ will be the first of our 100 branches with an Indigenous name and will be an opportunity for placemaking and placekeeping. This milestone is part of TPL’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, which include the goal of Indigenizing library spaces and using Indigenous names for new building projects. We look forward to continuing to work in friendship and cooperation with our partners on this exciting project.”
– Vickery Bowles, City Librarian
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