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1/3 British Columbians want to rename province to recognize Indigenous heritage: Poll

More than 60 per cent of residents not bothered by B.C.’s name, though
The Survivors’ Flag hangs to honour Indigenous Peoples who were forced to attend residential schools, on the grounds of the legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Wednesday, September 28, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

About a third of British Columbians say they’d be willing to change the province’s name to recognize its Indigenous heritage, according to a recent poll, but the majority say they’re unfazed by the name’s colonial roots.

Public opinion firm Research Co. surveyed 800 B.C. adults between Oct. 29 and 31, and found young adults and Indigenous people were the most likely to support renaming the province and removing the Union Jack from B.C.’s flag.

By age, those between 18 and 34 years old showed the strongest desire for change, with 50 per cent in favour of renaming and 43 per cent in favour of removing the Union Jack. Across all age groups, those numbers lowered to about 32 and 31 per cent, respectively. Support was lowest among those aged 55 and up, the poll found.

Indigenous people were by far the most likely to support the changes out of the four ethnic groups the poll divided respondents into. More than 60 per cent of Indigenous respondents said they wanted to rename B.C., and 49 per cent said they wanted to remove the Union Jack. By comparison, about 30 per cent of European and East Asian respondents showed support for the same actions, with slightly greater support (30 to 38 per cent) among South Asian people.

By region, support for the two proposed changes was slightly higher on Vancouver Island (37 per cent), as compared to northern B.C. (32 per cent), Metro Vancouver (31 per cent), the Fraser Valley (30 per cent) and southern B.C. (26 per cent).

When asked what specifically bothered them about B.C.’s name, 20 per cent said it was the lack of acknowledgement of Indigenous people, 19 per cent said it was the word “British” and eight per cent said it was the word “Columbia.” Still, the majority (62 per cent) of respondents said they thought there was nothing wrong with the name.

The name “British Columbia” was chosen by Queen Victoria when the area became a British colony in 1858 to differentiate between the “American Columbia” which later became Oregon under the Oregon Treaty.

This year’s poll revealed similar results to one conducted in September 2021, when 26 per cent of respondents showed support for changing B.C.’s name and flag, 60 per cent disagreed with changes and 14 per cent said they were undecided on the matter.

Research Co. president Mario Canseco said he plans to conduct the same survey on an annual basis to see how opinions on the name and flag of B.C. change over time.

The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

READ ALSO: Indigenous artist re-imagines B.C. provincial flag

-With Black Press Media files


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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

Hi, I'm a provincial reporter with Black Press Media, where I've worked since 2020.
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