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Powell River exploring possible name change

Is a name change in the cards for Powell River?

The City and Tla’amin Nation are exploring the idea.

A City document reads that “the City of Powell River and Tla’amin Nation are leaders in reconciliation and have a shared responsibility to acknowledge and make amends for the atrocities of colonialism.  Naming the city after Israel Powell, whose racist and oppressive policies against Indigenous Peoples have recently come to light, is inconsistent with our shared commitment to reconciliation.  Communication with residents about why the existing name is inconsistent with reconciliation is important.”

In a letter to Mayor and Council dated June 21st, Hegus John Hackett wrote, 

“The prospect of changing the name must not be a matter of ‘if’, but a matter of ‘when’. To suggest that a name change is simply a possibility and not an eventuality is to suggest that it is still appropriate to celebrate the legacy of residential schools and cultural genocide. How will this be viewed by your grandchildren and great-grandchildren? Now is the time to make things right and be on the right side of history – commit to changing the name as part of the City’s commitment to reconciliation, UNDRIP, and TRC, and let’s work together on process, options and timing.”

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Meanwhile, project oversight in the document includes a Joint Working Group that will provide leadership for this engagement project. 

“As identified by the existing Community Accord, the Joint Working Group will include two members of City Council, two Tla’amin Legislators, two appointees of the City, and two appointees of the Tla’amin Nation. The Hegus of Tla’amin Nation and the Mayor of Powell River will be ex-officio members. The Joint Working Group will be co-Chaired, with one Chair appointed by the City Council and one Chair appointed by the Tla’amin Legislature.”

Staff is recommending that council: 

  • endorse the Tla’amin Nation and City of Powell River Shared Vision, attached to the October 19, 2021 staff report titled “Possible City renaming Process Engagement, as attached to the report, 
  • Direct staff to advertise for expressions of interest from the public for two positions on a Joint Working Group, and
  • allocate $20,000 from general unappropriated surplus to provide project funding.

The group and all communications between the city and Tla’amin Nation will respect the existing Community Accord signed by the city and Tla’Amin Nation. Any dispute resolution that may arise will be guided by the Accord.

The city and Tla’amin Nation will both provide project initiation funding, and will work to find grants or other sources of funding that may contribute to the project costs. 

In-kind resources will also be pursued, including staff and elder expertise, community volunteers and other community organizations that wish to contribute to the project.  

A facilitator and/or consultant will be engaged to carry out technical work, including project planning and content development, on behalf of the Joint Working Group.

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