Mar 09 2008
A proposal from Chemainus First Nations member George Harris to rename Georgia Strait the Salish Sea in recognition of the land’s original inhabitants is getting some serious consideration from the BC provincial politicians (UPI).
I’m not really against the idea, but what’s the point? Harris contends that the new name would help people recognize the indigenous heritage of the Coast Salish people (as opposed to reminding people that King George III happened to be the boss of Britain when Captain George Vancouver sailed through this neck of the woods). But even the most ignorant backwoods half-wit already knows that First Nations Peoples were the original inhabitants of Canada, and anyone of legal breathing age in BC knows about the Salish people.
Half of our Canadian place names already come from Aboriginal names – Toronto, Ottawa, Saskatchewan, Kelowna, Kitsilano… Heck, our country’s name, Canada, was adopted from a First Nations name.
Is it Harris’ idea that the renaming of Georgia Strait will be a one-off stunt, or is the idea to rename the rest of Canada as well? Shall we do away with Vancouver, Prince Edward Island, Montreal, Surrey, Gimli (quick, where is it?) and all of the other “foreign” place names? What about their heritage?
Honestly, renaming the straight or any other place wouldn’t be that big deal on its own, except to map-makers and local historians. But what exactly are we trying to achieve, here? Wiping out the historic stain of foreign cultural imperialism for all time? Having a little fun confusing the tourists? Inducing the local paper, the Georgia Straight, to change its name to the Salish Spectator?
George, feel free to comment.