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Public engagement begins regarding possible name change for Powell River

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Powell River may be seeing a name change. Tla’amin Nation, the City of Powell River, the possible name change joint working group and a community accord committee are asking for public input about the proposed change. The First Nation requested the name change.

“The concerns about the name “Powell” stem from Israel Powell’s time as superintendent of Indian Affairs for British Columbia from 1872 to 1899, where he pursued policies meant to assimilate Indigenous Peoples into Canadian society. This included the implementation of residential schools, banning of the potlatch and removing ceremonial objects from communities,” a city statement read. “Powell also helped ensure the sale of Lot 450, which included the Tiskwat village site. The impacts of these policies, such as loss of land, language, culture,and family ties for Tla’amin people, are still felt today.”

People can provide feedback by emailing info@powellriver.ca or taking a survey until March 25. The survey can be completed online here, and physical copies can be found at Powell River City Hall, the Powell River Recreation Complex and Powell River Public Library.

“This truth telling work is difficult for all of us,” said Harmony Johnson (sɛƛakəs), possible name change joint working group co-chair and vice-president of Indigenous wellness and reconciliation for Providence Health Care. “It is hard to talk and learn about these aspects of our shared history. I believe, however, that we can find positivity and meaning in this process by approaching this conversation with humility, kindness, and curiosity. We can all make a contribution to reconciliation in action by showing up as neighbours, willing to listen to and learn from one another.”

No new name options have been chosen.

“Right now we are not focused on choosing a new name,” the city statement read. “Choosing a different name would be a separate process of public engagement with city residents and Tla’amin Nation.”

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“I know from all my years here that people care deeply about this community and its history,” said possible name change joint working group co-chair and former Powell River mayor Stewart Alsgard. “I also know that people are committed to truth and reconciliation and finding a way forward with our Tla’amin neighbours. I invite people to take part in this process in order for us to build a positive future and move forward in a good way together.”

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