“Province to Change Racial Slurs Names in New Brunswick”
Two communities in northern New Brunswick that bear names containing a racial slur are set to be renamed as of January, as announced by the province on Thursday. Out of seven communities or geographical features across the province, two will now receive new names following consultations with Mi’kmaw and Wolastoqey leaders as well as the residents of the region, reported Tourism, Heritage and Culture Minister Tammy Scott-Wallace.
The community located around 27 kilometers west of Campbellton will be called Evergreen, and the adjacent mountain will be named Meto’mqwijuig Mountain. Additionally, the surrounding area will also carry the name Meto’mqwijuig. According to Wallace, Meto’mqwijuig, pronounced Meh-tum-ka-jig, was the original Mi’kmaw name for the mountain and translates to “to hear something that is flowing” or “a mountain stream nearby.”
“First Nations communities were all consulted,” Scott-Wallace said in an interview. “We asked for their participation and their suggestions. So, absolutely, everyone had an opportunity to weigh in. We had a web survey as well that allowed people to make recommendations and get their thoughts, so we’re really happy with what we’ve come to. There’s been a lot of work that’s gone into it for sure.”
However, the changes are considered to be just the first steps the province is taking to change racist place names, something that Wolastoqey and Mi’kmaw leaders have been advocating for years. The initiative also comes after Manju Varma made it one of 86 recommendations in a report written last year while serving as commissioner on systemic racism.
“Changes should go beyond racist names: Mi’kmaw group”
According to Raven Boyer, spokesperson for Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Inc., the changes announced are a vital part of reconciliation. Nonetheless, the group emphasized that changing a few racist place names is not enough, and that the process to restore Indigenous place names across the territory must be initiated by the province.
Additionally, Wolastoqey leaders have urged the province to honor the traditional name of the St. John River, by renaming it the Wolastoq. The Wolastoqey Nation in New Brunswick supports this initiative and has expressed hope that the province’s work to restore original Indigenous place names will soon extend to their namesake, the Wolastoq.
In conclusion, the decision to change racist place names in New Brunswick is a commendable start. However, it is important to recognize the continued work required to restore Indigenous place names and genuinely honor their history and culture. The province should strive to go beyond this initial step and make comprehensive efforts to preserve the Indigenous heritage and traditional names.