Park deems name of iconic rock in Van­cou­ver ‘ dis­re­spect­ful’

National Post (Latest Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - El­iz­a­beth Leighton

• 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.”

DAR­RYL DYCK / THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILES

Van­cou­ver city coun­cil voted to re­name Si­wash Rock, along the Stan­ley Park sea­wall, as re­quested by area First Na­tions.

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