The former Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway is now named Kichi Zībī Mīkan (pronounced MEE-kan), meaning “Great River Road” in the Algonquin language.
The new name was chosen through an Algonquin naming and engagement exercise. The name honours the profound significance of the river, shoreline and landscape to the Algonquin Nation.
The latest on the project
In June 2023, the NCC Board of Directors approved the new Algonquin name for the parkway.
We are planning an event in the fall to unveil the new signage and celebrate this change. Stay tuned for more details!
Meaning of Kichi Zībī Mīkan
The new name highlights the location and importance of the Ottawa River, the Kichi Zībī, as a great and bountiful river that has provided for generations, just as it does today, and has served to build relationships and connect communities.
Naming the parkway Kichi Zībī Mīkan is a reference to the original name for the river. The name is an opportunity to pay our respect to Algonquin ancestors and their lived experiences. It serves to reconnect the Algonquin Nation with their history, language and culture, while also acknowledging that this name was known and used by other First Nation communities that would have travelled to the area.
The name builds upon larger efforts that First Nations communities are deploying to reclaim their Odjībikan—meaning roots or, alternatively, origins. These origins connect the Algonquin communities to one another and to the land. Reclaiming the original name Kichi Zībī contributes to reconciliation efforts and acknowledges the reciprocal relationship between the Algonquin Nation and the river.
Listed below are a few stories we heard during the Algonquin naming exercise and engagement.
- “I became a schoolteacher at 18 years old. This was to help preserve and document our language. It was important in our community to preserve our language so it wouldn’t be lost (…) The Creator gave us this language, it’s descriptive.” – Anishinābe Algonquin workshop participants
- “When I think of the river, I think of our ancestors and how it has been used to divide our people. I look at this as an opportunity to connect our people to our language and culture. To connect the population around the waterways, the protection of the river and all the people within it.” – Anishinābe Algonquin workshop participants
We received several requests to rename the parkway from elected officials, members of the Algonquin Nation and community members. We also heard from the public, which suggested changing the name of the parkway during public consultations for the Ottawa River South Shore Riverfront Park Plan.
The NCC’s newly formed Advisory Committee on Toponymy met in the spring of 2023 to discuss the outcomes of the Algonquin naming and engagement exercise. Following the staff’s analysis and recommendations, the NCC Board of Directors agreed to rename the parkway Kichi Zībī Mīkan.
- Winter-spring 2023: Algonquin engagement to select a new name and gather stories
- Spring 2023: Public engagement activities to gather stories and Advisory Committee on Toponymy meeting
- Summer 2023: Name recommendation to the NCC Board of Directors for decision at the June meeting
- Fall 2023: Unveiling of new signage and event to commemorate the change
About the Algonquin naming exercise
Following the NCC Board’s January 2023 decision, we proceeded with an Algonquin naming exercise and engagement to find a new name for the parkway. This approach aligns with the principles of the new NCC Toponymy Policy and with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action related to language, culture and commemoration.
As part of this exercise, we are contributing to the revitalization of Indigenous culture and language and to restoring Indigenous place names.
Generally, Indigenous place names describe the meaning of a place (how it was or is used) and the place’s significance to the communities involved. The names can also convey teachings about the land and the area.
We facilitated workshops with community members from Kitigan Zibi Anishinābeg First Nation and the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation communities. These workshops provided an opportunity for storytelling and discussions, and led to the recommendation of a new name, which was chosen by consensus.
As part of this exercise, we invited the public to share stories about the parkway and surrounding areas, and to learn about the initiative and the new name.
The gathered stories will be featured in a summary report about the naming and engagement exercise.
- Renaming the Parkway - Kichi Zībī Mīkan (932.692 KB)