Reasons supporting name change are false
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.