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)

B.C. students lobby to get racist official’s name off Victoria street

University of Victoria students say Trutch Street puts racist history on a pedestal

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

The online campaign asks the city to remove Joseph Trutch’s name from Trutch Street, in the capital city’s Fairfield neighbourhood.

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Have an opinion you’d like to share? Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or the postal service. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
LETTER: Maple Ridge resident impressed with frontline workers when husband hurt

From police to health professionals, everyone who cared for injured senior deserves praise

Residents of Golf Lane say they are tired of their houses and vehicles being hit by golf balls from the nearby Maple Ridge Golf Course, and worry someone is going to get killed by a wayward drive. (Neil Corbett/The News)
Maple Ridge Golf Course neighbours say they need protection

City willing to explore solutions says director of parks

Former Pitt Meadows city councillor David Murray was convicted of sex assault, and is now being sued by the victim. (files)
Former Pitt Meadows city councillor sued for sex assault

David Murray was convicted in 2017 of sexually assaulting a teen 25 years earlier

Ineke Boekhorst with the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association says Sparkle has been a huge hit with downtown businesses. (The News files)
Maple Ridge business to get free Earth Day window cleaning

Event put on by the Downtown Maple Ridge BIA and Christian Life Assembly

Allen, Mel, and Trevor Leung pose on the Whitecaps field in Vancouver. (Special to The News)
Community rallies to support Maple Ridge man suffering from paralysis, kidney issues

GoFundMe set up to help Allen Leung and his family during difficult times

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Nick Warmerdam and his dog Diesel are inviting locals to check out the Lakeland Farm U-pick Flower Farm this spring. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
VIDEO & SLIDESHOW: Abbotsford’s Lakeland Flowers opens for spring

Tulip farm attraction opened on April 14, open to the public daily seven days a week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

The female driver of this Jeep Grand Cherokee (right) was driving erratically with a young child inside on Highway 1 eastbound. After hitting a barrier and a parked car, she finally exited the highway at Yale Road West and came to a stop. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Video captures woman driving erratically with child after hitting barrier, car on Hwy 1 in Chilliwack

Smoke seen coming from SUV as it continues to travel eastbound of shoulder of highway

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Most Read