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

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has suspended indoor dining at restaurants and pubs until at least April 19 in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

New order allows workplace closures when infections found

The new 3,500 hectare conservancy in Tahltan territory is located next to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (BC Parks Photo)
New conservancy protects sacred Tahltan land near Mount Edziza Provincial Park

Project is a collaboration between Skeena Resources, conservation groups and the TCG

Mabel Todd, 83, of the Nak’azdli First Nation, leads a group of family members and advocates of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls as they walk along the so-called Highway of Tears in Moricetown, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Province, feds fund full cell service along ‘Highway of Tears’ following years of advocacy

A ‘critical milestone in helping prevent future tragedies’ after at least 10 Indigenous women murdered, missing along the route

Erin O’Toole, Conservative Party of Canada leader, answered questions during a Terrace District Chamber of Commerce event on April 6, 2021. (Screenshot/Terrace District Chamber of Commerce Facebook)
Erin O’Toole discusses Terrace issues during virtual event

Federal Conservative leader answered questions during a Terrace & District Chamber of Commerce event

Tree; Burns Lake library. (Laura Blackwell photo/Lakes District News)
Dragon Tree christened

The Burns Lake Public Library contest for dragon and tree names has… Continue reading

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Most Read