Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Salish Sea

The name the Salish Sea has been gaining popularity as a term for what is at the moment known as the Strait of Georgia. At the last First Nations Summit meeting, the leaders of the First Nations suggested to the BC Government that it rename it to the Salish Sea.

I think this is a wonderful idea. The name certainly better represents this place where we live and I believe that it better represents the geography of the area - the region is much more like a sea than a strait.

The province and the First Nations Summit started a process just over ten years ago to address issues of geographic naming. The process started then because of the use of the word squaw. The civil servants that deal with naming issues seems at the time to be open to renaming of places in BC at the request of First Nations, though I have not heard of anything this big to date.

There is a degree of resistance among many people to renaming places, but maybe these people need to look at how the current name came into use. I have heard complaints by people that many aboriginal names are hard to pronounce or the spelling makes no sense them. I counter that it is good for us to have names that reflect the place we live in, names that have a long connection to this place and not just named for some rich white man out of England.

Our very province is called British Columbia - neither part of the name makes any sense here. We need a name that comes from our shared history and not from some temporary colonial history. We have towns like Prince Rupert and Prince George - neither of these men ever set foot here but they are on our maps, they are taking up space that could be used for names that are part of real history and geography.

We have names in use that come from our own history of this place - Saanich, Tsawwassen, Coquitlam and many more but we need more to ground ourselves in this place in this part of the world.

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