Place, Names and Decolonization in BC

Assignment 4: Place Names and Decolonization in BC


As our communities, our province and our country as a whole moves towards taking responsibility for past wrongs we collectively move towards reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Part of this reconciliation can involve formalizing Indigenous decolonization. Decolonization is the process where those who were most impacted by colonial expansion and cultural assimilation begin to reclaim their Indigenous identity. This can happen in our public systems like education and health care, but it can also happen in the way that we manage our land or even how we refer to places of importance to us. This week’s assignment focuses on decolonization in the BC context.

Once you have read / viewed the background materials, please participate in this online discussion. Some questions to think about as you get started include:

What are your initial reactions to the articles / videos? Which one had the biggest impact on you and why?

Did the readings / videos make you think differently about the concept of decolonization? How?

Do you think BC’s political, social, economic, judicial, administrative and educational structures advance or impede decolonization? Why or why not?

Place for geographers is about the human experience of a location. The sights, sounds, smells, and experiences we have in that location form our sense of a place. How important is the name attached to a particular place to our sense of place? Does our sense of place change when a place name is changed?

To what extent do you think place names help inform individual and collective identities? Do you know where your ancestors from? Does having a particular place attached to your history and culture inform your identity?

My peers’ posts:

1. The Importance of Names

Evan Telford

A common theme amongst the majority of the materials for these discussions was the use of names and how they came to be. Whether it was the name of a landmark such as Mount Douglas, or the name of the province of British Columbia, the negative impacts on First Nations by using these names were highlighted in the articles/videos. This really stood out to me because it is something I had not even considered to cause harm before. After reading, it makes complete sense. The First Nations had already been established in the area for a very long time, and for someone to arrive and decide that the names their ancestors had chosen were no longer valid must have been a huge shock. The issues clearly continue onto today, as they serve as a constant reminder of the impact colonialism has had on their land. They are still being forced to call their own homeland British Columbia, a name that can’t really sound any more British and any less like what the First Nations would have called their territories. It is fairly obvious that these names came from British settlers etc. so it is not as if I had never considered that before. What I hadn’t considered was the impact these names had on this land’s original inhabitants and how this serves as a reminder of colonialism and all the negativity associated with it. This opens up the discussion as to if we should begin to rename these places/landmarks. I can understand why some people would be against the change as they want to keep with their own traditions, but this argument also doesn’t necessarily hold much merit as the traditional names were ignored and replaced with the existing ones. What do others think should be done? Is it best to change the name of the province and Mount Douglas etc. back to what they were originally called or do we stay with how it is? Is there a way to find a way to compromise and keep both sides happy?


2. The Mentality of Settlers on the topic of Education of Native Canadians

Victoria Makovetski

In the process of colonizing Canada, many treaties were signed between Indigenous peoples and the Crown (government) throughout 1871 to 1921. These treaties addressed how each party involved in the treaty would behave in respect to each other. Some main topics of these treaties were the indian reserves, residential schools, farming, hunting and fishing. The residential schools were run by the church and only provided teachings up to grade 5. Most, if not all, students were mistreated by the “teachers” in the schools. “Indian children in residential schools [died] at a much higher rate than in their villages.”Stolen Children | Residential School survivors speak out, CBC News: The National, June 2 2015, Still, to this day, native people of Canada are affected by the negative outcomes of these schools; and furthermore, cannot form a connection to their ancestors or traditional heritage. It is completely unacceptable that ‘The White Man’ tried to strip NATIVE people of Canada of their identities. Another article mentions the education system’s principles, “Until 1960, sections 109-113 under the Indian Act stated that Indians who had acquired post-secondary degrees, were admitted to a profession, or had become clergy would automatically be enfranchised and lose status as an Indian.” from Relations with First Nations: Decolonization in the Canadian context, Mark Aquash (2011), This is extremely racist as that meant that if an Indigenous person were to want higher education, they would have to give up their status as a Native Canadian person. It is evident that the history of educating native peoples has a strong tie to racism by the colonists. I believe to help with these horrible experiences, aboriginal people should be given free resources such as free post-secondary education, and free access to rehabilitation centers and therapy. Please comment your thoughts and contributions.

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