‘Erasing Canada’s Past: Changing British Columbia’s Name’

“The ‘Village of Pemberton’ recently voted to change the name of British Columbia. They have no idea to what, only that it should change. Pemberton councillors also put forward a motion at the ‘Lower Mainland Local Government Association’s annual general meeting. They want the province’s name sent down some Orwellian memory hole.”

“A few years back when writing up my latest book, “The Victim Cult” (warning—author promotion here), I almost titled a chapter on history’s lessons “All our ancestors were bastards”.

“I opted for a milder title which makes the same point:

“Everyone’s (ancestor was) a victim”. 

“Most will grasp the point without delving into the book. In an age where some wish to justify some present-day policy, or to topple a statue, or to—ahem—perhaps change the name of a province, it is popular to drag out some imagined or real historical wrong, tag it to an entire group, or historical period, and then proceed with the predetermined agenda.

“A case in point: The ‘Village of Pemberton’ recently voted to change the name of British Columbia. They have no idea to what, only that it should change. Pemberton councillors also put forward a motion at the ‘Lower Mainland Local Government Association’s annual general meeting. They want the province’s name sent down some Orwellian memory hole.

“The motion failed, garnering 40%, but that’s hardly a resounding defeat. Expect the issue to arise again, courtesy of the anti-historical revisionists.

“They are anti-historical because no doubt part of the prompting for the name change is the claim that the British colonialists were not perfect. Right. They were not.

“But whenever someone deigns to remove a statue (see: John A. MacDonald), lop a statue head (see: Queen Elizabeth II’s statue in Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park), or suggest a name change because of imperfections in past peoples, I always wonder if such cultural-historical wrecking crews grasp this likely possibility:
That in 2121, many of our great-great-great-great grandchildren will also think those of us alive today were daft, and missed the big picture.

“To wit, if the argument for changing British Columbia’s name rests on the notion of past colonial imperfection, that misses the big picture as well: Everyone’s ancestors fail by modern standards. And others, even out-of-step on some matters, had redeeming qualities on others.

“But when ideologues look back, they see only extremes in black-and-white, and never the full spectrum of colour. They engage in cartoonish history.

‘Slavery in the Pacific Northwest’
“Want a clear example from the British and British Columba? Here’s one, and which relates to my point that everyone’s ancestors were less than ideal. Most civilizations in history practiced slavery and that included pre-English ‘Indigenous’ {sic} peoples in the Americas including in what we now (and still) call British Columbia, Alaska, and Washington, i.e., the Pacific Northwest:

Slavery was a permanent status in all Northwest Coast societies”,

wrote anthropologist Leland Donald in his 1997 book, “Aboriginal Slavery on the Northwest Coast of North America”. Slavery in the Pacific Northwest developed at some point between 500 B.C. and A.D. 500, long before European contact, and at contact, slaves were clearly set apart from the existing tribal ranking system and prestige-seeking in the region.

Slaves could end up in that predicament for any number of reasons: captured as part of inter-tribal warfare, after inter-tribal raids, born to an existing slave, or if they were an orphan (which could lead to enslavement even in one’s own tribe, as occurred among the Clayoquot, Lummi, Chinook, and Puyalup-Nisqually).

“To skip much detail about the practice, but cut to British efforts to abolish the practice, the British outlawed slavery in the British Empire in 1833 and the Americans in 1865, but it took until the end of the 19th century in the Pacific Northwest to end slavery in the region. That was both due to refusal to comply with the ban in some ‘indigenous’ communities and the difficulty of enforcement in such a remote region.

“As one example from Donald’s book, in British Columbia, in 1840, six years after the ‘Slavery Abolition Act’ took effect (it was passed in 1833 and effective in 1834), James Douglas, later a governor of Vancouver Island but then commanding Fort Vancouver, encountered resistance. Writing the colonial office in London, he pointed to how, with ‘indigenous’ communities,

“I have hitherto endeavoured to discourage the practice by the exertion of moral influence alone”,
but
“Against our own people I took a more active part, and denounced slavery as a state contrary to law; tendering to all unfortunate persons held as slaves, by British subjects, the fullest protection in the enjoyment of their natural rights”.

“In Alaska, slavery was still ongoing at the time of the 1867 purchase by the Americans, with reports of it continuing until the 1890s.

‘Victoria’s earliest ‘black’ arrivals from California’
“Here’s another bit of local history to consider, also relevant to a more nuanced picture of the “British” in British Columbia.

“In “The Blacks in Canada: A History”, written by then-Yale University History Professor Robin Winks and first published in 1970, a cohort of ‘black’ Americans from California, 35 at first, moved to Victoria in 1858, founding the city’s first ‘black’ colony. They moved because even though they were free in California, increasing racism and restrictions were being enacted in the state. In contrast, as Winks writes, shortly after arriving in Victoria in April, and marvelling at the blossoming peach trees, a selection of the arrivals, a delegation, met with Governor James Douglas, who “received them warmly”.

“A local Anglican minister, Edward Cridge, also welcomed the ex-Americans, including to his services. Also, “the local authorities confirmed” that the new arrivals from California “would be accepted as settlers without legal discrimination”. And indeed, this turned out to be true: The ‘black’ arrivals could buy land, and if partly purchased with borrowed money, were not subject to tax until they owned the land outright.

“In addition, after nine months the ‘black’ immigrants could vote and serve on juries; they were granted British citizenship after seven years.

“As it happened, some of the delegates who met Douglas and Cridge later wrote back to fellow Californians to brag about how Victoria was “one of the garden spots of the world”. (Victorians have been bragging about the weather and their gardens ever since.) More ‘black’ emigrants arrived as a result of such favourable publicity and the 1872 census recorded 472 ‘black’ British Columbians, though Winks argues this number might be low, with 600 closer to the mark. For context, Victoria’ population was 3,671 in 1871.

“It is not that the first ‘black’ British Columbians never experienced prejudice or racism. It was in fact the arrival of more Americans, this time ‘white’, who brought assumptions of segregation with them, that proved highly problematic in future years and decades. Also, regrettably, Winks notes, ‘black’ arrivals to British Columbia (a colony until 1871), even encountered prejudice from some — emphasis on some, not all — ‘indigenous’ individuals.

“But the first British Columbians encountered by the arriving ‘black’ Californians were sympathetic. Winks speculates that Douglas was so because he knew that his mother was “either a West Indian mulatto or a Creole”. As for local media, the ‘British Colonist’ editor Amor de Cosmos urged fellow ‘white’ citizens to recognize the “sobriety, honesty, industry, intelligence and enterprise” of the new immigrants…

‘The history lesson’s point’
The general point here is not to paint anyone’s ancestors as all bad or all good. I always side with the late Soviet dissident, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who wrote in the “Gulag Archipelago” that “the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being”. Solzhenitsyn meant that it was a mistake to think “we” are all good and “they” are all bad. And that applies to simplistic narratives that posit someone else’s ancestors as wholly evil and ours as wholly pure.

“And for the record, I write this not as someone with British heritage. My ethnic background is German, though I grew up always assuming I was English Canadian.

“Almost everyone’s ancestors were less than ideal. That should lead us to grasp this reality: We have a lot more in common with each other today than with our ancestors.

“And if we must re-examine shameful moments of history, we should also remember the triumphs. The British abolished slavery nearly before anyone. They then tried to stamp it out in the British Empire; they even used their navy to disrupt and end the slave trade on the high seas.

“As someone with a supposed German ancestry, historically, give me the Brits over the Huns any day.

“So no, we should not change British Columbia’s name.”

–‘No, don’t change British Columbia’s name’,
Mark Milke, The Orca, May 24, 2021
https://markmilke.com/blog/2021/5/25/no-dont-change-british-columbias-name

B.C. Flag -1870

“Some British Columbia politicians are pushing for the province to have its name, coat of arms and flag changed to better reflect the province’s ‘diverse’ history and population. During this week’s ‘Lower Mainland Local Government Association’s (LMLGA) annual general meeting, a vote on whether a name change request should be made was put to all of the municipalities present.

“The resolution titled “Consideration of Change of Provincial Name, Coat of Arms and Flag” goes on to claim that the province’s name

“completely fails to acknowledge either the ‘Indigenous’ {sic} people’s history and culture, or the multi-cultural heritage of the settlers”.

{Canadian Aboriginals are ‘Indigenous’ to Mongolia and Siberia…}

“It continues by saying that

“the adoption of a more inclusive and historically relevant name would better reflect the diverse population of our Province, and could be considered a reconciliatory action, in consultation with local ‘First Nations’ {‘Aboriginal communities’}”.

“Therefore be it resolved that UBCM request that the Provincial government consider changing the name of British Columbia to a name that better represents the ‘First Nations’ and multi-cultural residents of the land”,
the resolution reads.

“According to the vote results, 60% of localities voted against the proposed name change, whereas a startling 40% of municipal politicians wanted the province to be named something different.

“The resolution was first put forward by the ‘Village of Pemberton’ after local councillors debated the issue. The LMLGA represents 33 local governments from the lower mainland including the ‘City of Vancouver’, the ‘City of Surrey’, the ‘Corporation of Delta’ and dozens of other communities.

“According to the Government of Canada, the province received its name from Queen Victoria in 1858 when it became a colony.

“The southern part of the area now known as British Columbia was called ‘Columbia,’ after the Columbia River. The central region was given the name of ‘New Caledonia’ by explorer Simon Fraser. To avoid confusion with Colombia in South America and the island of New Caledonia in the Pacific Ocean, Queen Victoria named the area British Columbia when it became a colony in 1858”,

says the Government of Canada website.”

–‘BC politicians want to change province’s name and flag to reflect ‘diverse’ society’,
True North Wire, May 22, 2021
https://tnc.news/2021/05/22/bc-politicians-want-to-change-provinces-name-and-flag-to-reflect-diverse-society/
“’British Columbia’ — is it now or was it ever all that British? It’s sure not Colombian, and what is Columbia anyway? The ‘Village of Pemberton’ recently found itself contemplating B.C.’s name and evidently decided it made little enough sense that it should be changed. So the village put forward a resolution calling on other Lower Mainland municipalities to ask the province to find something more ‘appropriate’ — a name that better represents its history and diverse population — and pick a new coat of arms and flag, while it was at it.

“The vote on the matter, which took place last week at the ‘Lower Mainland Local Government Association’s annual general meeting, didn’t go in Pemberton’s favour, but it was divisive, with 40% of municipalities in favour of a name change and 60% opposed.

“Pemberton had argued in its proposal that the province’s name only represents a brief part of its history and fails to acknowledge its ‘Indigenous’ peoples or the multicultural heritage of its settlers.

“Some provinces have names with deep roots in this land. The name for water-rich Ontario, for example, comes from the Iroquois word for “sparkling”, as in sparkling water, according to the Government of Canada. Quebec’s name comes from the Algonquin word for “narrow passage”, a reference to the narrowing of the St. Lawrence River, according to Canada.

“In contrast, B.C.’s name has no ‘Indigenous’ origins, based on Canada’s account of how it was selected {Again: Canadian Aboriginals are ‘Indigenous’ to Mongolia and Siberia}. Post-European contact, the southern part of the province was dubbed Columbia after the river, which was itself renamed by a Boston fur trader, having previously been known by Spanish explorers as Rio de San Roque, according to the ‘Canadian Encyclopedia’.

“Meanwhile, Simon Fraser named central B.C. ‘New Caledonia’, according to the Government of Canada. But because those names could confuse people looking for Colombia in South America or New Caledonia in the southwest Pacific Ocean, Queen Victoria renamed it ‘British Columbia’.

“Pemberton found fault with B.C.’s coat of arms and flag for similar reasons to why it disliked the province’s name.

“Featured prominently on B.C.’s provincial coat of arms are a wapiti and a bighorn sheep, meant to represent the colonies of Vancouver Island and B.C., according to the Government of Canada. Nearly as hard to spot atop B.C.’s coat of arms as it is in its forests or fields is a lion adorned with Pacific dogwood flowers. The flowers at least can be found in B.C., where the Pacific dogwood is the province’s floral emblem.

“B.C.’s flag duplicates the shield at the centre of its coat of arms. The upper half features the Royal Union Flag, again symbolizing the province’s colonial history, while the lower half is filled with a golden sun atop wavy blue and white bars that represent the Pacific Ocean.

“B.C.’s name was adopted in 1858, its complete coat of arms was granted in 1987 and its flag was adopted in 1960, according to the Government of Canada. For reference, ‘Indigenous’ peoples have occupied B.C. since ‘time immemorial’ {Utter nonsense…} and the earliest known evidence of human settlement in the province dates back 14,000 years.”

–‘BRITISH COLUMBIA’S NAME FLAMED: Some B.C. municipalities down on the Crown’,
Matt Robinson, Toronto Sun, May 18, 2021
https://torontosun.com/news/local-news/british-columbia-name-flamed-some-b-c-municipalities-down-on-the-crown/wcm/76d90355-ac55-419d-a6ad-859be92f5524
“B.C. was a British colony. The land came under British control in 1846 with the signing of the Treaty of Oregon between the British and American governments, although Indigenous people were not consulted. During treaty discussions, the British argued that Captain Cook and Captain Vancouver had discovered B.C. along similar lines that Christopher Columbus had discovered America.

“The southern part of the area now known as British Columbia was called “Columbia”, after the Columbia River, which originates in the province’s Rocky Mountains before snaking across the U.S. border into Washington state. B.C.’s central region was given the name of “New Caledonia” by explorer Simon Fraser. But to avoid confusion with Colombia in South America and the island of New Caledonia in the Pacific Ocean, Queen Victoria named the area British Columbia when it became a colony in 1858.

“The Columbia river got its name from, unsurprisingly, Christopher Columbus. Specifically, it’s named for the American ship of Captain Robert Gray, who travelled in the area. The ship, the ‘Columbia Rediviva’, was named after Christopher Columbus…

“In 2008, Victoria resident Ben Pires {Who?} pitched the idea of renaming B.C. to then-premier Gordon Campbell and the B.C. legislature. He argued the name is neither historically accurate, nor inclusive of the province itself.

“Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun {Who?} called for the renaming of B.C. in a 2016 art exhibition “Unceded Territories”.

“Why do we have British Columbia? Why do we have to have this name when they’ve never paid for it? {The ONLY people who have paid for their land are the so-called ‘settlers’. Aboriginals simply stole land from one another…} This is our land. This is {sic, ‘These are’} ‘First Nations’ {Aboriginal} territories”,
Yuxweluptun said in a video highlighting the project.
“This is traditional native land, this is a province that belongs to native people. But we are held hostage on reservations”.

{They are called ‘reserves’ in Canada, NOT ‘reservations’, and you are LYING about being “held hostage”! You are free to leave at any time…}
…”

–‘Name Change For British Columbia? People Have Been Calling For It For Years’,
Mel Woods, Huffington Post, 06/25/2020, Updated June 26, 2020
https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/british-columbia-name-change-columbus_ca_5ef50036c5b63220fcca435e

See also:
Who Owns British Columbia?
   “We are the true owners of British Columbia. The Indians across the province own everything — the rivers, the trees, the bugs, the animals. You name it. Subsurface rights, the air, the rain, the whole shot. That’s what we mean when we say we have aboriginal title to the land.”
–James Gosnell, Chairman, Nisga’a Tribal Council, 1984
Quoted in “Our home OR Native Land?” Melvin H. Smith, Crown Western, Victoria (1995)
https://endracebasedlaw.wordpress.com/2016/07/22/who-owns-british-columbia/

#OneNationOneLaw

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