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Salmon society worries about future runs

February 9, 2017                                






January 2017

What’s in a Name?

Written by Kathryn Michel

Secwepemc Nation

I feel it is important to add a Secwepemc perspective to a January 13th article in the

Shuswap Market News discussing the re-naming of Roderick Haig-Brown Park with a

Secwepemc name. Despite the article beginning with a statement that it “may be

considered appropriate to recognize First Nation’s over 9,000 years of life here with a

name change”, the author’s further omission of any reference to the Secwepemc

perpetuates longstanding practices of marginalization and cultural erasure of First

Nations in Canada. It was interesting to note that the columnist Jim Cooperman, who is

known to have done some research of local history, chose to use the generalized term

“First Nation’s” instead of identifying the Indigenous people of this area as ‘Secwepemc’

(the word ‘Shuswap’ is a misnomer). This situation is problematic in that by arguing that

changing the park’s name would be disrespectful to Haig-Brown’s legacy, the author, by

neglecting to present the perspective of the Secwepemc, effectively undermined and

disrespected an entire Nation.

It is understandable that the re-naming of an area has generated debate, since the

naming of land is never a neutral act. Indeed, the naming of Canada, and each settlement

within it, was among the first actions undertaken by colonizers to establish territory and

ownership. The many Secwepemc place names, including those referring to landforms,

waterways, village sites, and resource-gathering areas, had unceremoniously been cast

aside and rebranded to suit the current agendas of Euro-Canadian settlers, with many of

these places named after individuals. In contrast, Secwepemc place names highlight the

essence of the land and/or the relationship between humans and the earth. This reinforces

that we are a part of a larger whole and parallels a key Secwepemc value of k’wseltknéws,

or, ‘we are all related’.

The debate on renaming the park is certainly timely in that Canada’s 150th birthday

occurs within a time of major environmental and socio-economic challenges. Through

renaming the park we can actively work towards reconciling past practices that negated

the role of the Secwepemc people and work towards a shared goal of taking care of the

earth. This should be viewed as a unifying process that links all people to place and

identity. If we look at the precedence set in other areas of Canada, such as in Haida Gwaii

and Nunavut, we can see how the re-naming of places with Indigenous names can

contribute to a positive cultural experience for citizen and visitors alike. Certainly, the

proposal to either replace one of the original place names, such as “Kwlolecw”, meaning

“green earth”, or to create a new name that embodies the spirit and intention of the park,

should not be seen as disrespecting the legacy of Roderick Haig-Brown. Ultimately, I

believe Haig-Brown would celebrate this change since the Secwepemc worldview of

interconnectness compliments his teachings about the importance of connecting to the

natural world. To promote inclusiveness and the value of k’wseltknéws, we need to

approach change in a positive way instead of simply asserting that decisions that have

occurred in the relatively recent past cannot be reversed. The re-naming of the park gives

us an opportunity to create a unified voice towards ecological protection through

enhancing the groundwork established by Roderick Haig-Brown through integrating the

holistic teachings of the Secwepemc.


Kamloops This Week January 19, 2017

Should park have Secwepemc moniker?

The Haig-Brown Legacy – Effort underway to re-name Roderick Haig-Brown Park – article by Jim Cooperman January 13, 2017











Here is an awesome write up from Destination BC