City of Vancouver spurns Hogan's Alley Society's input before naming street after Nora Hendrix

The long-time Vancouver resident was the grandmother of legendary guitarist and singer Jimi Hendrix

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      The Hogan's Alley Society has played a critical role in elevating understanding about Black history in Vancouver and across British Columbia.

      Its research-driven approach to community development has generated respect from not only the Black community, but also from planners, the media, and the general public.

      But this week, the City of Vancouver rejected its input on a street name in the Strathcona neighbourhood that was once the centre of Vancouver's Black community.

      In a letter to Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart and the council, the Hogan's Alley Society stated that it does not support the use of Nora Hendrix's name for the new street near the site of the future St. Paul's Hospital.

      The city went ahead and approved the name despite this opposition.

      Nora Hendrix was a long-time resident of Vancouver, cofounder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and the grandmother of legendary guitarist and singer Jimi Hendrix.

      The letter points out that Hogan's Alley Society "has worked tirelessly to develop the Black community’s vision for a non-profit community land trust on the Hogan’s Alley Block".

      That's despite the City of Vancouver's delays in following through on a promise to recognize the results of a community-engagement process in connection with Northeast False Creek.

      "As partners with PHS on the supportive housing development at Gore & Union also named after Nora Hendrix, we respectfully consulted with Hogan’s Alley descendants before arriving at the name that was chosen," the society stated in the letter. "It was a meaningful community decision that holds significance for residents and the wider Black community.

      "Throughout the tenanting process and into operations, our organization continues to provide cultural and community supports to residents," the letter continues. "In our commitment to bring the vision of a non-profit community land trust to life on the block, we will ensure that the 52 supportive homes for Black and Indigenous peoples funded by BC Housing becomes a permanent feature on the site through a purpose built component within the land trust."

      The objection comes in naming the street after Nora Hendrix so close to this project without regard to the society's long-term vision to make the supportive housing permanent and without "respectful consultation".

      That, according to the society, is "another example of the long-standing and harmful colonial approaches that have long harmed Indigenous and racialized people in this City".

      "Should the City be sincere in its goals to recognize and honour Black history in this area, they might consider the use of respectful engagement to do so," the society adds. "We would also encourage the City to join with other levels of government in enthusiastically supporting HAS’ vision for a non-profit community land trust on the Hogan’s Alley site, making good on the NEFC policy and using decolonial approaches to working with equity-denied groups so that more respectful and positive working relationships might be possible."

      The city responded that the naming committee has "no resources for public consultation", claiming that as a citizen advisory committee, this is the citizen input.

      To that, the Hogan's Alley Society says it will provide alternative names to the advisory committee. As has been the case with its other input to the city in the past, it will be done on an unpaid basis.