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Trutch name to be removed from residence

The Trutch name will be removed from a residence building within the Lansdowne Residence complex. The UVic Board of Governors made the decision May 30 upon a recommendation from President Jamie Cassels based on advice from the President’s Advisory Committee on Naming of Facilities and Physical Assets. The committee made its recommendation after considering a request received earlier this year from student Lisa Schnitzler and others, though the matter had arisen a number of times in the past.

Built in 1969, the Lansdowne complex’s six buildings were named after three women and three men. Sir Joseph W. Trutch (1826-1904) was initially honoured as part of the historical trio including John S. Helmcken and Robert W. W. Carroll who negotiated BC’s terms of union with the Government of Canada.

Since then, it has become apparent that as chief commissioner of lands and works and subsequently as BC’s first lieutenant-governor, Trutch’s actions regarding Indian Land Policy, and his attitude to Indigenous peoples was particularly negative even for his time, in contrast to those of many of his contemporaries, including James Douglas, the governor of BC and Vancouver Island.

“Trutch’s negative approach to the land rights of First Nations people and disregard for their concerns conflict with UVic’s mission, vision and values,” says Carmen Charette, vice-president of external relations.

In addition to Trutch’s stand on Indigenous affairs being contrary to UVic’s values, the naming committee also considered the following in making its recommendation to the President:

  • Students currently living in the Trutch residence or assigned to it in the future may feel uncomfortable or conflicted to be residing in or associated with the building as named.
  • Other than his place in the history of BC, there is no direct connection between Trutch and the establishment and development of UVic.
  • Renaming is not an attempt to erase history or diminish the accomplishments of historical figures, including Trutch’s role in bringing BC into Confederation. Rather, the intent is to ensure that the UVic campus environment is aligned with our values.

As part of this process, a review was undertaken of other UVic building names and the committee was advised that no other cases were identified where the same considerations would apply.

The building will be temporarily renamed Lansdowne Residence #1 until a new name is selected. Charette will consult on a process for renaming the building, which is home to 48 students each year. 

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Keywords: trutch, residence, building name, administrative

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