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First road in Muskoka to be renamed to honour local Indigenous culture

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The District of Muskoka approved changing the name of Muskoka Road 38 in an effort to move towards a path of reconciliation.

According to Wahta First Nation, the road has received final approval to be renamed to the Mohawk word Kanien'kehá:ka Iohatátie.

"Its meaning is 'Mohawk People Road.' It reflects the people and the road that carries the people and the language. It's the first time it has had a name. We have always been a number," said Wahta First Nation Chief Philip Franks.

According to Franks, the name was chosen and ultimately narrowed down from a list of 40 other possibilities. The final decision was made through Wahta elders, councillors, the District of Muskoka and the Township of Muskoka Lakes.

"This really was a name that was important because it reflects not just the area, not just a characteristic of the area, but also the people who are from the land," said Jeff Lehman, Chair for the District of Muskoka.

According to Wahta First Nation, the name change has been 30 years in the making.

The First Nation's attempt to change the name of Muskoka Road 30 was turned down in the 1990s.

"We couldn't come to terms with local municipal government, so the name Muskoka Road 38 remained, so this change has been great. It reflects a community and our people, and that's the key to reconciliation because it begins with learning," said Chief Franks.

The District of Muskoka says motorists can expect to see the name change on road signs, GPS systems and maps by the end of June to early July.

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