New Brunswick Tribune

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Saint Mary’s First Nation Chief complains the lack of engagement on new names for local entities

Key Takeaways:

  • When the provincial administration unveiled the list of possible names for the new local entities created by local government reforms on Wednesday, the new identities were exclusively in English and French.

The new identities on the list were only in English and French when the provincial administration revealed the list of suggested names for the new local entities created by local govt reforms on Wednesday.

The only names of Wolastoqiyik and Mikmaq provenance on the list were those of previously formed entities, such as Miramichi.

According to Saint Mary’s First Nation Chief Allan Polchies Jr, This was quite disheartening.

“It arrives as no surprise to me or other chiefs that this provincial govt will miss a chance to adopt Indigenous place names,” he said in a statement to Global News on Thursday.

“I’m not aware of any real consultation,” says the author. Indeed, we got the idea that meaningful engagement with First Nations would have taken far too long.”

At a press conference on Wednesday, Local Government, as well as Local Governance Reform Minister Daniel Allain, described the pace of the comprehensive reforms as a “pedal to the metal.”

According to historian Maurice Basque, names of First Nations origins were only considered if they were already names of incorporated businesses, who worked as a toponymy adviser for the renaming effort alongside Ken Harding.

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Before adopting new Indigenous names, Basque indicated that greater collaboration with First Nations groups would be required out of respect.

According to Polchies Jr., “small debates about replacing insulting place names” have occurred.

Premier Blaine Higgs expressed alarm about Polchies Jr.’s remarks in an interview on Friday.

“It was purposefully acknowledged right from the start of the process that we would not be able to incorporate First Nations communities into this process,” he said, adding that the new names were chosen after public consultations in the communities where they would be used.

According to Polchies Jr., he and other chiefs “continue to promote the modification of place names to portray the genuine history of our region.” “Not only because it’s the correct thing to do, but because Indigenous languages are beautiful and have a deeper significance and history to this place,” he said, referring to the ongoing attempt to rename the Saint John River Wolastoq.

Premier Higgs’ statements were sufficient, so the Department of Local Govt and Local Governance Reform declined to respond on Friday.

In 2024, Higgs said, a process will be in place that will allow towns to reconsider name changes.

Source: Global News

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