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 West Candidates (L to R) Glen Byle (Conservative), Katrine Conroy (NDP), Andrew Duncan (Green), Corbin Kelley (Liberal), Fletcher Quince (Independent, Ed Varney (Independent).
Q&A with Kootenay West candidates: Opioid crisis

Seventh in a series of Q&As with the candidates, look for a new set each morning.

IRIS coordinator Sandi McCreight and one of the program’s volunteers have been preparing meals for more than 100 local seniors. Photo: submitted
IRIS offering flu clinic, COVID info session for Castlegar seniors

Castlegar’s IRIS Project is continuing to offer supports for local seniors

Touchstones Museum has opened up Nelson’s Cold War bunker to the public. The unique exhibit includes artifacts from the 1950s and 60s. Photo: Tyler Harper
Take cover! Cold War bunker opens to public in Nelson

The shelter was built in 1964 in case of nuclear fallout

Nelson’s Brian Boyes has been awarded a provincial honour for coaching junior golfers. Photo: Submitted
Nelson golf coach wins provincial honour

Bryan Boyes was honoured for his work with young golfers

Kootenay West Candidates (L to R) Glen Byle (Conservative), Katrine Conroy (NDP), Andrew Duncan (Green), Corbin Kelley (Liberal), Fletcher Quince (Independent, Ed Varney (Independent).
Q&A with Kootenay West candidates: Child care

Sixth in a series of Q&As with the candidates, look for a new set each morning.

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Volunteer registered nurse Stephanie Hamilton recieves a swab from a driver as she works at a Covid-19 testing site in the parking lot at Everett Memorial Stadium on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020 in Everett, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
13 more COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

There are 624 cases in the region since the start of the pandemic

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

Most Read