Bryan Anderson, a city councillor for Edmonton, made the news recently when he questioned the renaming of 23rd avenue between 215th street and Anthony Henday Drive to Maskekosihk Trail. He thought that the name was too difficult to pronounce for those who were not familiar with the Cree language.
The Councillor had not anticipated that he would be heavily criticized for saying this. Anderson said, “I’m sorry if I offended anyone with my suggestion, that was not my intent.” This was said after there was an apology demanded by a Cree elder. The Cree language is one of the oldest in North America and the people are putting in efforts to keeping the language alive.
The Cree elder was infuriated and said that Anderson has no right to in telling us or anyone how to say things. The concern was raised by Anderson because he thought that the street name is difficult to pronounce for non Cree people which will make it difficult to identify it in case of emergencies. He gave an example of a man experiencing cardiac arrest, and someone making a 911 call is unable to explain the street when explaining the address.
This statement however was quickly dismissed because 911 are very aware of the city street name changes. Taz Bouchier, the Cree elder, asked for Anderson to apologize publically at city hall as his remarks can give birth to discrimination.
The Cree respect their language a lot and because there are a few people left who can speak it fluently, making small efforts like these might help them preserve the language and pass it on to coming generations.
Taz Bouchier explained that her grandfather was Scottish and didn’t speak the same language as her grandmother, if they can make it past the language barrier so can you.