‘Derogatory language’: B.C. seeks feedback on renaming Vancouver Island creek

'Derogatory language': B.C. seeks feedback on renaming Vancouver Island creek

The B.C. government is asking local governments and First Nations about eliminating the name of a Vancouver Island creek that may be offensive.

Coonskin Creek flows through Youbou into Cowichan Lake, and the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) recently received a letter from the province about the name.

“Consideration to rescind this official name is based on the offensive nature of the language in the name,” reads the letter.

“The BC Geographic Names office is aware of the potential harms arising from derogatory language in geographical name and would like to determine if rescinding this name is supported by local communities…”

In the neighbourhood, it’s not hard to find raccoon prints in the snow — but the word coon can be, especially in parts of the U.S., a racial slur.

The province says the creek was named in 1952 and was submitted by the Water License Branch. It says the origin of the name was not included in the submission.

In a further statement to CHEK News, the province says Natural Resource Canada sent a letter in late 2022 to all provinces requesting meaningful steps to change any derogatory names. Coonskin Creek was one of the names identified.

Neighbours say they’ve never thought about the name being offensive.

“Why would they want to change it? We’ve always just called it Coon Creek. I don’t see anything offensive about it. It’s from the raccoons,” said Bud Towle, a neighbour who has raccoons living in his yard.

Numerous neighbours told CHEK News they don’t believe the name’s origins were related to race.

“My thoughts are to leave things alone. It’s named for a reason, so it should stay at Coon Creek,” said Audrey Towle.

Also near the creek is Coon Creek Road.

The province is asking local governments and First Nations for feedback before rescinding the creek’s name with no plan to rename it.

The letter from the province to the CVRD can be found in the correspondence section of the linked agenda.

In 2022, a First Nations delegation asked the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District to change the name of Sproat Lake.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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