Historian Donovan King pens another open letter to Mayor of Montreal Valérie Plante regarding the naming of the Griffintown light-rail station
Irish Canadian historian Donovan King is continuing to put the pressure on Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante regarding the naming of a light-rail station that is being constructed in the historically Irish area of Griffintown.
In November, Plante announced in a series of tweets that the station would be named after former Quebec premier Bernard Landry, who many feel held anti-immigrant sentiments and thus would not be appropriate for the Griffintown area that has strong Irish links.
Mayor Plante has insisted that "no one is left out of" her proposed name for the station, and that the opposition is trying to "stir up discord" on the matter.
Griffintown is home to The Black Rock memorial which was erected in 1859 and is considered the first memorial to Irish Famine victims outside of Ireland. Thousands of Irish people fleeing the Great Hunger perished upon arrival in Montreal amidst a typhus outbreak.
Additionally, last month at the Griffintown light-rail station construction site, the discovery was made of bone fragments which are believed to be those of more than a dozen Irish people from the Famine era.
Donovan King, who as owner and operator of Montreal's Griffin Tours is considered An Ambassador of the City, has followed up to his initial letter with the below letter published on December 19 in which he urges Mayor Plante to engage in discussions:
"Salutations again Mayor Plante!
"Just a quick reminder that you have not responded yet to your Ambassador or the Irish community, although we have noted that you did release a cryptic message for the media:
"I should also mention that a group of citizens is now mobilizing for a petition for a Public Consultation on all future re-naming proposals from City Hall to ensure community stakeholders are properly consulted henceforth. This includes members of the Kanienʼkehá꞉ka community on whose un-ceded territory we live. For example, why isn’t Otsirà:ke recognized as the original name of Mount Royal on websites, signage, and brochures?
"Many of these citizens dispute your assertion in the media that this is an anglophone vs. francophone dispute. It is more productive to see the conversation as between the descendants of European colonizers and those who were colonized, and how that dynamic plays out today. I can assure you that the conversation is not only playing out in English and French on social media, but also in Gaeilge (Irish), Kanienʼkeha (Mohawk) and many other languages.
"I will be in Dublin City from December 19 – January 4, but will still be available to communicate online should you desire. I recommend getting in touch soon, especially as the media headlines seem to be doing enormous brand damage to the City of Montreal internationally. The Irish Diaspora includes 100 million+ members across the planet and this brand damage can result in a loss of highly-coveted Tourism dollars for the City of Montreal and companies such as Griffin Tours and Irish Montreal Excursions.
"Lastly, many in the Irish community feel humiliated that you have not backed down on this proposal during a time of deep mourning for our Famine ancestors who were just dug up and sent to a laboratory for analysis. Please join our community in mourning Montreal’s Irish Famine Dead by withdrawing your proposal as soon as feasibly possible."