Van­cou­ver parks board to work with First Na­tions on re­nam­ing rock

Times Colonist - - B.c. / Canada - EL­IZ­A­BETH LEIGHTON

VAN­COU­VER — The Si­wash Rock in Van­cou­ver’s Stan­ley Park could be re­named if First Na­tions agree its name is dis­re­spect­ful to Abo­rig­i­nal Peo­ples.

The park board voted unan­i­mously Wed­nes­day night to work with Coast Sal­ish Na­tions to de­ter­mine if the dis­tinc­tive rock should be re­named, say­ing it is tak­ing a first step to­ward right­ing “acts of dis­pos­ses­sion and dis­re­spect.”

Com­mis­sioner Cather­ine 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.

“Lis­ten­ing to [Squamis] Chief Ian Camp­bell, it seems that they are go­ing to wel­come the change. The chal­lenge of course is there is more than one In­dige­nous lan­guage spo­ken among the three na­tions. We’ll see what hap­pens,” Evans said.

The mas­sive 18-me­tre basalt sea stack stands promi­nently on the park’s north­west shore near the en­trance to Van­cou­ver’s 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.

The mo­tion adopted by the board called the name an “on­go­ing sym­bol of dis­re­spect.”

Evans said the name is an “his­toric wrong,” but it was only last spring when she learned of lon­grun­ning 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.”

Peo­ple stop to take pho­to­graphs of Si­wash Rock along the Stan­ley Park sea­wall in Van­cou­ver.

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