The thoughtful name change of Richard McBride elementary school to Skwo:wech Elementary School is a welcomed change.
Place names are not neutral; they come with a history about who and what was valued in the context of that time. When the values and knowledge of the people living in a place change it seems logical to also re-think place names to honour the values of today.
Deliberate inclusion and renaming of significant pieces of the fabric of our communities, like schools, demonstrates much-needed integration of Indigenous culture and peoples into our city.
This is an opportunity for New Westminster to be a leader in changing ideas about naming and what it means in acknowledging a history that we have not always been so open to.
I am not Indigenous, but my partner and children are. The last year, with so much media attention to large-scale social movements that are putting a spotlight on systemic racism it is essential to collaborate with First Nations people whose territory we are on, whether or not there is a legal treaty, to gain their perspectives and input into how we name public things like schools, community centers, museums and roads. It is long overdue that we review the history of the people that places have been named after and understand that history within the values and beliefs about social justice of today.
Michelle C. Danda, New Westminster