A motion before the Vancouver Park Board could mark the next step toward reconciliation with three Vancouver-area First Nations.
Commissioners are scheduled to vote Monday on a proposal that would recognize and acknowledge traditional places and names within Vancouver park boundaries.
The commissioner behind the motion, Stuart Mackinnon, says the motion asks the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations to identify traditional names of places, such as those along Burrard Inlet or within Stanley Park.
He says the motion calls on the board to recognize the names and locations and work toward reflecting them in the city’s public spaces.
Mackinnon says he has been told by a Squamish Nation member that Stanley Park wouldn’t be renamed, “because it never had a name, it was a forest.”
However, he says there are many places within the park that were important Indigenous sites.
“(There were) villages and hunting grounds and residences and so they will have traditional names. Much of our foreshore, what we call Burrard Inlet, had villages, camps and fishing spots that probably had names,” he says.
“The idea here is that part of reconciliation is truth telling, and part of the truth telling of colonial history is that we didn’t name things, we renamed them, way back when.”
The motion celebrates the rich language and culture of the region’s original inhabitants and offers the chance to share place names from their oral and written history, Mackinnon adds.
If adopted, Mackinnon says recommendations for Indigenous names would have to be submitted to the board’s naming committee and would be open to public process and input from the three First Nations.
Earlier this year, councillors unanimously passed a proposal for a colonial audit, examining how colonialism was entrenched in park board operations.
Mackinnon says he’s optimistic about Monday’s vote.
“I am hoping that this is the next step in our path to reconciliation and truth telling, and that it too will pass unanimously.”
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