MP proposes North Island-Powell River be renamed to North Island-qathet

MP proposes North Island-Powell River be renamed to North Island-qathet
MP proposes North Island-Powell River renamed to North Island-qathet

A North Island politician is calling for the name of her riding to be renamed to more accurately reflect the area.

On Thursday, Rachel Blaney, the MP for the riding, filed an objection to the riding’s current name of “North Island-Powell River” and has requested a change to “North Island-qathet.”

“Instead of having a riding that highlights just one community of 11 municipalities and over 20 Indigenous communities, I wanted to see the whole region represented in the name,” Rachel Blaney NDP MP for North Island-Powell River told CHEK News.

Instead, Blaney is pitching the riding commissioner to change the name of Powell River to the Sliammon word “qathet.”

“The word qathet is a word shared amoungst Tla’amin, Homalco, Klahoose, and K’ómoks Nations which represents working together,” said Hegus of Tla’amin First Nation John Hackett. “That is the path we want to move forward and is inclusive of everybody in the region.”

Tla’amin Nation Hegus (Chief) John Hackett says this change would have a tangible impact for the people of the nation.

“The proposed electoral riding name change is a small and tangible step on our reconciliation pathway, but is one that will have great impact for Tla’amin Nation and our citizens,” says John Hackett.

“Israel Wood Powell, for whom the City is named after, has caused deep suffering in our community, which continues to affect us to this day. Tla’amin Nation appreciates MP Rachel Blaney’s ongoing support and reconciliatory effort her office shows for our community and our Sister Nations through initiatives like this.”

Ken Price, the elected chief councillor for K’ómoks First Nation says updating names to Indigenous names is a good step for reconciliation.

“K’ómoks First Nation is fully supportive of the proposed name change for Rachel Blaney’s federal riding,” Price said.

“Including qathet in the riding name acknowledges Tla’amin, one of our Sister Nations, both culturally and historically, and provides important recognition of the First Peoples of the region. Promoting Indigenous languages is an encouraging step in the reconciliation process.”

The pitch comes after the district of Powell River underwent a name change to qathet Regional District.

In 2017, the Tla’amin Nation gifted the word to the regional district, which at the time was known as the Powell River Regional District.

Back then, many considered the names of the regional district and the city itself to be confusing.

A previous chair for the district’s board said grant applications were often mixed up as a result.

There was a vote by the regional council in 2018 that saw the name change receive approval, and the regional area surrounding Powell River was renamed qathet Regional District.

2017: Powell River Regional District seeks approval for name change

Another case of a similar name change in the area was back in 2022, when the Powell River General Hospital changed its name to qathet General Hospital.

Blaney sees the name change as a small step in the right direction of reconciliation.

“The name change is an acknowledgement of the First Peoples of this territory,” Blaney said. “Powell River is named for the first superintendent for Indian Affairs in British Columbia, a man who brought in many colonial policies, including residential schools. Changing the riding’s name is a vital step towards reconciliation.”

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