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

There has been COVID-19 exposures at two elementary schools in District 42. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 24 additional COVID-19 cases

This includes three school exposures in Kelowna

The village is looking to install another 91 metres of breakwater at the marina. Photo: JD Mah
Village staff applying for $2.1 million in grants to complete three infrastructure projects

Projects include new biomass system at arena, breakwater and stormwater repairs

Enrolment is up overall in the district. Photo: Nakusp Elementary School
Enrolment at SD 10 schools skyrocket

Enrolment numbers have increased by 10 percent between Sept. 2019 and Sept. 2020

Katrine Conroy has won for the fifth time in the Kootenay West riding. Photo: Submitted
Katrine Conroy ready to tackle challenges after election

Conroy won the Kootenay West riding for the fifth time

A view of the Burton Flats area. Photo: Submitted
Work progresses on man-made wetland near Burton

The project is already seeing modest results

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
U.S. election results one factor that could impact immigration to Canada next year

The survey polled 1,523 Canadians between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25

Most Read