No one is debating that Powell River Regional District was generously bestowed upon it a word from Tla'amin Nation elders that will be a much more suitable namesake than Israel Powell.
The man our region and city was named after was a superintendent of Indian affairs who never set foot on this land and was instrumental in setting up residential schools in BC.
Powell was not exactly someone anyone wants its region to be named after.
The name qathet Regional District, from the Tla’amin Nation word meaning “people working together,” is a beautiful and heartfelt sentiment that will be another step toward reconciliation in a region that has been inhabited by first nations people since time immemorial.
The only problem here is the process in which the regional district approved the name change. Citing the desire to save a few thousand dollars on the cost of a referendum, the regional district implemented a convoluted letter of approval system and received 221 letters of support and 192 in opposition.
That's two percent of the total residents in the area who participated in the process, and nearly an equal amount who said yes and no. Most elections and referendums in Powell River bring in 10 to 20 times that number of votes.
The fact that the regional board only approved the change in a close 4-3 vote at its October 26 meeting points to further uncertainty in the process. If everyone on the regional district board believed this name change was being done the right way, there wouldn't have been such strong division.
It is unfortunate that such a well-meaning act of reconciliation, to finally put a proper name to this region, has been soured by the feeling that not all residents were able to have their say in a vote. The comparatively minimal cost to hold a referendum on the name-change issue could have offset the feeling some residents have that the decision-making process was flawed.
Next step: propose a similar name change for City of Powell River, but let's do it by referendum this time.
Jason Schreurs, publisher/editor