Indigenous names return to B.C.’s Sunshine Coast

Areas in British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast are undergoing name changes to respect the language, culture and heritage of local Indigenous peoples.

The Province restored the name of the Wilson Creek community to ts’uḵw’um, with the help of the shíshálh Nation. This name will be shared with the nearby creek. The water feature of Saltery Bay has also restored its name of sḵelhp.

“This is a good step on the path of reconciliation,” said Chief Warren Paull of the shíshálh Nation. “Recognizing the original names of the area has great meaning to our people and is one aspect of revitalizing our language. We appreciate the support of our provincial and regional district partners. Working together, we are charting a new, respectful and co-operative future for shíshálh members and all those who live within our swiya.”

Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, said working with partners like the shíshálh Nation helps make meaningful progress towards reconciliation.

“Honouring the language and history of Indigenous peoples is profoundly important, and so I am elated at the return of the traditional names ts’uḵw’um and sḵelhp to the shíshálh swiya/Sunshine Coast area,” she said.

The 2018 Foundation Agreement between the shíshálh Nation and the provincial government includes consideration of several changes back to shíshálh place names. The agreement also includes the transfer of land to shíshálh, funds for shíshálh to purchase timber volume and commitments for co-operation on land-use planning and shared decision-making.

“Colonial policy and the residential school system tried to extinguish Indigenous language and culture,” said Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “By restoring these ancient placenames, we respect and honour the shíshálh Nation’s deep connection with the swiya and to their language and culture.”

Recognizing Indigenous place names is part of B.C.’s work to advance reconciliation and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples through the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.

Following the B.C. Geographical Naming Policy, local and Indigenous governments, as well as relevant organizations, were invited to comment on the proposed name changes and bring forward any local or heritage considerations and comments.

“Along with our board, I am well aware of the deeply meaningful naming practices of Indigenous peoples. We celebrate these name changes along with the shíshálh Nation and continue to offer our support as they work to further restore their place names in the region,” said Lori Pratt, chair, Sunshine Coast Regional District.

For more information about the shíshálh Nation and additional audio of place names in the shíshálh swiya:

“The District of Sechelt council is pleased to have supported the return of Wilson Creek to its original name, ts’uḵw’um. This is one small but important part of building relationships, cultural awareness, respect and reconciliation,” said Darnelda Siegers, mayor, District of Sechelt.

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