LETTER: Time to rename British Columbia

One reader wants the province to create a more inclusive name for B.C.

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.

WATCH: Celebrating Metis culture and history at Louis Riel Day

Yet we cling to the “British” moniker while ignoring the more than 10,000 years that Indigenous communities inhabited these lands, and 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 “B.C.” commonly used today is meaningless.

When can we take pride in our province’s name, flag, and coat-of-arms?

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 – hopefully easily pronounceable, spelled and short – 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.

A new name will demonstrate solid confidence in ourselves as a province that is inclusive of all its residents, rather than clinging to coattails of British colonists.

The name, of course, cannot be fully changed overnight because it is a complex matter.

However, many countries had the fortitude to make a start and go through a liberating process of choosing a new name – such as Ghana, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Zambia, Mali – and implementing it fast.

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? Please send us a letter to the editor, include your first and last name, your address, and your phone number.

British ColumbiaLetter to the Editor

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kootenay doctor among 82 physicians, dentists calling on province for mandatory mask rule

Open letter says masks should be worn in indoor public spaces, public transportation or in crowds

The Fernie Museum reopens its doors to the public

Among changes, the Fernie and District Historical Society is also forming a new restart committee

Fernie Heritage Library encourages summer reading

The library is keeping children entertained with crafts and scavenger hunts

Whitehorse native Elias joins Michigan-Dearborn Wolverines

Johnny Elias played for the Fernie Ghostriders this past season

EDITORIAL: Editor bids farewell

Editor Paige Mueller will be leaving The Free Press team at the end of July

Airlines dispute Dr. Henry’s claim they ‘very rarely’ give accurate COVID contact tracing info

Air Canada, WestJet say they provide names and contact information

Dwindling B.C. bamboo supply leaves Calgary Zoo biologists worried about pandas

Zoo has been trying to send pandas back to China since May

B.C. Appeal Court prevents Victoria woman from using the term ‘death midwife’ in her job

Pashta MaryMoon claimed she had been providing “death-care services” for more than 40 years

‘We all have anxieties’: B.C.’s top doctor addresses return-to-school fears amid COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry promises school restart plan safe for B.C. kids

Abbotsford mom worried about her two kids in Beirut following explosion

Shelley Beyak’s children were abducted by their dad in 2018

Young Canadians, hospitality workers bear the brunt of mental strain in 2020: report

A study by Morneau Shepell points to economic uncertainty in the pandemic as the cause for angst

Health Canada recalling more than 50 hand sanitizers in evolving list

Organization says to stop using products listed, and to consult a health-care professional

Airborne hot dog strikes Greater Victoria pedestrian

Police called to 4200-block of Quadra Street for hot dog incident

B.C. scientist, 63, protests in trees set to be removed for Trans Mountain pipeline

Tim Takaro is reaching new heights as he tries to stall the pipeline expansion project in New Westminster

Most Read