HE SAID: Stanley Park - what's in a name?

Rob Leggett
By Rob Leggett
July 7th, 2010

 West Coast native leaders had recently released a tribal bombshell by suggesting that B.C.’s world famous Stanley Park be renamed with the native name Xwayxway.

Thankfully, federal minister Stockwell Day quickly stepped in and quashed that idea before it could be taken too far and announced that the park would not be renamed.
After hearing this story, I was beginning to wonder if there would be any non-native name that would be safe from lexicological tampering by tribal leaders, particularly since Squamish leaders were happy to point out during these discussions that the Queen Charlotte Islands were recently renamed Haida Gwaii.
But, sadly, I don’t believe this is a conversation that can be even had, never mind won, by non-natives without the risk of being labelled racist.
It seems to me, with cases such as these, natives will often regress to the tried and true, “You did this to our people! You stole our land!”
This has led our nation to lurch awkwardly through many decades worth of remorse and reparations, hoping to make things right, if only to lessen what the natives feel should be the non-natives collective shame.
To exasperate matters further, every time the government seems to come to some sort of arrangement with one tribal land claim, two more tribes begin insisting that it infringes on their own particular claim on the specified land.
And quite honestly, I do not understand how changing the name of every island, park or parcel of land, or throwing heaps of money at tribal leaders will solve any of the native social or economic issues they are currently facing.
Yes, Yes… I do know that things have happened in the past, terrible things, as they have often done throughout history, to all cultures, and I do not want to come across as making light of that horrible situation, but this is a different time now, it’s a different land and we are all different people.
In my opinion it’s time that we stopped revisiting the irretrievable past, and started focussing, together as one nation, one people, on the exciting future.


Categories: Op/Ed