LETTER – Sincere reconciliation efforts would include changing our province’s name

Dear editor,

It is now a practice, before a public event, to have an Indigenous land acknowledgement. Is this mere tokenism under the guise of “Truth and Reconciliation” with Indigenous communities even when our province continues to have a colonial name, flag and coat-of-arms?

“British Columbia” was chosen on July 24, 1858, by Queen Victoria, a monarch who never set foot in these parts. Her decision, though said to be hesitant, was unilateral and without consultation with the mostly Indigenous people who lived here.

Vancouver Island was a British colony for just 22 years. The mainland was a colony for 13 years. British rule ended in 1871. Yet we cling to the “British” moniker while ignoring

[a] the more than 10,000 years that Indigenous communities inhabited these lands, and

[b] our 149 years in the Canadian Confederation.

Some will argue that a name change will dishonour British roots and heritage, and, oh yes, tradition. They conveniently forget the roots, heritage and traditions of our Indigenous communities, who have lived here for more than 10,000 years, and, those of us who are not of British [today a minority] ancestry.

We are not British. And Columbus never came here. We have laboured under this colonial pretension for too long.

Besides the abbreviated “BC” commonly used today is meaningless.

The government should ask the Indigenous peoples to come up with a new name that will reflect the province’s more than 10,000 years of history, awesome grandeur, diverse bio-geoclimatic zones and its mosaic of multi cultures.

The new name could be proclaimed on the 150th anniversary of the province’s entry into the Canadian confederation on July 20, 2021. This would be in accordance with Premier John Horgan’s recent challenge of “thinking outside the box” in the “new normal” after the COVID-19 pandemic.

If we keep the status quo, we are only confirming that all our talk about reconciliation with our Indigenous peoples is only tokenism and not full and respectful inclusion.

Ben Pires,

Victoria

Do you have an opinion you’d like to share? Email letters@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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