Rea­sons sup­port­ing name change are false

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - EDITORIAL -

Pe­ter McKenna’s let­ter on July 22 states that re­nam­ing Fort Amherst is a “good place for change to start” re­gard­ing rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and “es­tab­lish­ing and main­tain­ing re­spect­ful re­la­tion­ships.” I beg to dif­fer.

The pro­posed name change is driven by a false, yet fre­quently re­peated, premise: that Gen­eral Amherst dis­trib­uted small­poxlaced blan­kets to the Mi’kmaq, or that he sug­gested such. The sum­mary of the fi­nal re­port of the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion (TRC) states that “with­out truth, jus­tice and heal­ing, there can be no gen­uine rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.”

Steven Point, a B.C. Pro­vin­cial Court judge, for­mer lieu­tenant­gov­er­nor of B.C. and for­mer chief of the Skowkale First Na­tion, told the Com­mis­sion that “rec­on­cil­i­a­tion is about hear­ing the truth.” In the sum­mary one finds the state­ment, “All Cana­dian chil­dren and youth de­serve to know Canada’s hon­est his­tory.”

What has been fre­quently stated about Gen­eral Amherst, small­pox and the Mi’kmaq is not hon­est his­tory. Dis­torted his­tory is not an aus­pi­cious ba­sis for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion – quite the re­verse.

Many ways of ef­fect­ing rec­on­cil­i­a­tion are iden­ti­fied through­out the 382-page TRC sum­mary, but chang­ing the names of places is not among them.

If Mr. McKenna and his sup­port­ers wish to pur­sue name change as a means of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, let them be­gin with a cou­ple of com­mu­nity place names on P.E.I., iden­ti­fied in my opin­ion piece of July 18.

Na­tive land rights have be­come a real po­lit­i­cal is­sue on P.E.I. Per­haps that is an area in which Mr. McKenna, a po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist, could bet­ter re­flect on rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

Earle Lockerby,


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