Park deems name of iconic rock in Vancouver ‘ disrespectful’
• Vancouver is seeking to rename a Stanley Park landmark because Siwash Rock is “disrespectful” to Aboriginals.
The city ’s park board voted unanimously Wednesday to work with Coast Salish Nations to determine if the rock should be renamed, saying it is taking a first step toward righting “acts of dispossession and disrespect.”
The rock, an 18-metre basalt sea stack estimated to be about 32 million years old, stands on the park’s north- west shore near the entrance to Vancouver harbour.
The word siwash is a derogatory term for an Indigenous person and comes from Chinook jargon, which was the first method of communication between Europeans and Coast Salish peoples. Siwash is the Chinook interpretation of the French word sauvage, or savage.
Catherine Evans, commissioner of the park board, said the name is a “historic wrong,” but it was only last spring when she learned of long- running efforts by the Squamish to seek a revision.
“Once you know, the innocence is lost,” she said. “You can’t go on pretending that it’s not derogatory, just because you are not using it in a derogatory way.”
Evans proposed the motion and said the Stanley Park intergovernmental working group, which includes representatives from the Squamish, Musqueam and TsleilWaututh First Nations, will consider the change.
Evans said the working group, formed about three years ago to oversee the master planning and stewardship of the park, is the right organization to deal with the issue but renaming the rock might not top its agenda because its members are extremely busy.
“It would be a further act of colonialism to rename it myself or ask the park board to rename it,” Evans told the CBC.
Ian Campbell, chief of the Squamish First Nation, welcomed the invitation, telling the CBC, “For a long time our culture and naming has been invisible in our own territories.”
The rock is called Slhxí7lsh in the Squamish language, a word that means “standing one.”
Vancouver city council voted to rename Siwash Rock, along the Stanley Park seawall, as requested by area First Nations.