EMBRUN – Nominations are now open for the township of Russell’s new namesake.

Nominations opened on Feb. 23 and will remain open until March 23. Nomination forms are available online at the municipality’s website (Russell.ca).

Only current residents of Russell are eligible to submit a nomination. The nominated namesake must have “Russell” as a first, middle, or last name, and the nomination must include a “detailed, well-researched explanation of all positives and negatives about the ‘Russell’ you are nominating, why they are worthy of such an important recognition, and documents to help the special committee verify the claims in your submission.” In addition, the nominator is expected to attend the Russell Namesake Expo event in May, where they will be expected to man a booth dedicated to showing residents why the namesake, they’ve chosen should become the new Russell namesake.

The namesake can recognize more than just one person. The Russell Namesake Rededication Committee noted that recognizing multiple qualified individuals would allow for greater diversity of representatives. Committee members are permitted to submit their own nominations as well.

The issue of Russell’s name arose roughly two years ago when people discovered the municipality was named after Peter Russell, a high-ranking administrator in the pre-Confederation government of Upper Canada who owned slaves. In response, hundreds of people signed a petition calling on the township to change the name.

It was noted by many that the municipality doesn’t represent the beliefs of its founder. It was also noted that legally changing the name would be complicated and costly, as it’s not just the township that’s been named Russell, but also one of the towns within the municipality and the upper-tier United Counties, as well. Those opposed to the idea of changing the name started their own petition calling for the name to remain the same.

“I’m proud to say that we’re not changing the name Russell. My notice of motion for keeping the name and simply changing the namesake was approved by the majority of council. This allows us to come together as a community now, in finding someone who we feel is more deserving of that honour without costing anything to the taxpayer,” Mayor Pierre Leroux said during a July 6, 2020, Special Meeting Wrap-Up video posted to the township’s Facebook page.

Residents needing accessibility support are invited to contact the accessibility coordinator at 613-443-3066 extension 2312.