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

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

Submitted
BC VOTES 2020: John Rustad re-elected in Nechako Lakes riding

The result is based on preliminary vote count and the final results will be available after Nov.6

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

Shea Long roosts in the Shoot Out in the Telkwa Range. (SnoRiders, Houston/Shea Long photo)
Telkwa Range snowmobiling permit lottery opens

Application period is Oct. 20 to Nov. 20 for snowmobiliers and skiers to gain access to Starr Basin

Students from Houston Secondary School showed up voluntarily on Nov. 29, 2019, during their lunch break to provide input on the board’s strategic plan. (Matthew Monkman/Houston Today)
SD 54 unveils their new logo

Part of the Strategic Draft Plan released by the school district

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

RCMP stock photo (Black Press)
Charges laid against Prince George man, 39, in drug trafficking probe

Tyler Aaron Gelowitz is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 18

Most Read