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Letter: Supportive of name change for Powell River

We are all home in this place now; a new name would reflect and honour this. ~ Graham Cocksedge

I feel sick by what has transpired among my people (my people being all of the residents of this city [Powell River] and its region). There has been a breakdown of shared discussion as our emotions have commandeered our conscious and rational thought.

I was unable to attend the public information and discussion sessions in May. When I heard that groups were overtly disrespectful and even racist, I was deflated [“Public input for possible Powell River name change referred to working group,” April 25].

There will inevitably be bigger challenges ahead for us. If we can’t have open and safe discourse regarding a simple name change then we have deep cultural wounds needing attention and won’t be in a position to effectively deal with those future issues.

I support a change of name for our place. I do because for one, what does it really matter to me what my place is called if it helps to heal some of our cultural wounds and helps to bind our community?

Some of the emotions felt by those opposing this change are the same feelings felt by the inhabiting nations when colonizers simply pushed them out and changed their name over a century ago. They had no choice, no referendum.

They had the name for thousands of years. They had known their place’s name for their whole lives. They had the same oppositional reasons for not changing the name only they had no say in the matter.

We shouldn’t see it as losing our place’s name; we should simply recognize that we are returning the name to its original language (even if the name ends up being different from the original). We are reconciling for the original change that our colonizing ancestors forced.

This land was not settled by Israel Powell or any other traveller of European descent. It was stolen.

I will not feel ashamed or guilty for the actions of those before me, however, if a simple return of a name shows that I understand and empathize with the cultural erosion Tla’amin Nation and other First Nations might have endured since the European arrival, then I will jump to support such an action. I will jump to support my community, my whole community, and support my people.

We are all home in this place now; a new name would reflect and honour this.

Graham Cocksedge
Marine Avenue

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