The Pender Harbour and Area Residents Association (PHARA.ca) is disappointed that our provincial government has once again missed an opportunity for true reconciliation among our communities.
The Geographical Naming Office (BCGNO) decided to accept all 10 of the shíshálh Nation’s proposed name changes for Area A, including changing the official name of Pender Harbour to ḵalpilin. As happened with the Dock Management Plan, once again, decisions between the province and the shíshálh Nation have been made with no valid consultation or consideration of those most affected.
The BCGNO requested comments from 13 groups (individuals were not invited to submit), including, for some reason, seven Vancouver Island First Nations and other organizations/government agencies with no actual connection to Area A. The PHARA was the only invitee with a local connection despite dozens of established local community groups that should have been invited.
There were certainly other more important and less contentious naming changes that would have likely been suggested if real community to community consultation had occurred.
The SCRD, one of the invitees, was also concerned with the process. They replied to the BCGNO, noting deficiencies in the public consultation process and recommended that other organizations be consulted.
PHARA polled the community though its members, Facebook, and print asking what they thought of the name change proposals. In the end, there was overwhelming opposition to the proposed name changes, especially changing Pender Harbour to ḵalpilin.
It is interesting to note that the BCGNO has the following policy: “First priority shall be given to names with long-standing local usage by the general public. Unless there are good reasons to the contrary, this policy should prevail.”
One must wonder why there was no real attempt to consult with the locals most affected. While we all support reconciliation, isn’t reconciliation supposed to involve all parties?
Peter Robson, President, PHARA