News / Ottawa

Indigenous MPs want name change for Langevin Block

Hector Langevin was architect of residential school system.

NDP Romeo Saganash speaks to reporters at a press conference on Parliament Hill on Thursday, while from left Liberal MP Don Rusnak, Independent MP Hunter Tootoo and Liberal MP Robert Falcon-Ouellette.

Ryan Tumilty / Metro

NDP Romeo Saganash speaks to reporters at a press conference on Parliament Hill on Thursday, while from left Liberal MP Don Rusnak, Independent MP Hunter Tootoo and Liberal MP Robert Falcon-Ouellette.

Hoping to remove the stain of residential schools from one of Ottawa’s most prominent buildings, a group of Indigenous MPs are calling on the government to rename the Langevin Block.

The building, which houses offices for the prime minister, is named after Sir Hector Langevin who was a father of Confederation, but also an architect of the residential school system.

Several Indigenous MPs signed a letter addressed to Public Services Minister Judy Foote asking her to consider the change.

Independent Nunavut MP Hunter Tootoo said the time has come for the government to remove Langevin’s name from the building.

“It’s in the spirit of reconciliation and goodwill that we ask Minister Foote to seriously consider this request,” he said. “We feel this is a compelling social justice reason.”

NDP MP Romeo Saganash, who joined in the call, with Liberals Don Rusnak and Robert Falcon-Ouellette, is a residential school survivor himself. He said the building is a reminder of that legacy.

“Every day at work I am reminded of the man who dreamed up the schools I was sent to, purposely severed my connection to my family, to my people, and to my nation,” he said.

He said the government has a lot to do in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report, but this is a simple step it could take to improve relations.

“This is an easy ask, you will see it won’t even hurt.”

All of the MPs said they believe that doing this now, during Canada’s 150th birthday and while the government has said it is committed to improving relations with Indigenous Canadians, would be an important sign.

Sagenash said he won’t be celebrating Canada Day this year because there is still a tremendous legacy of unfinished work.

“I have never celebrated July 1 in my life,” he said. “As every Canadian will probably be partying this year, our kids and our youth continue to take their lives. Our women and girls continue to disappear and get murdered, our people still lack access to running water.”
 

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