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Viewpoint: Name change for Powell River is possible and not all that hard

Part of reconciliation is admitting the truth about what happened to our Indigenous kids and the other part is to make amends to them where possible. ~ Melanie Jordan

Changing names is a hassle; it’s why I kept my maiden name.

Most women change their names after marriage. Some tell me it was a hassle not to. I think they do it for love and that’s beautiful so I support it.

Then if the couple splits up, many women change back to their maiden name. They do it because the old name doesn’t suit them anymore and I can understand that, so I support it.

Names matter very much to some people and maybe that’s okay because, from what I can see, the name-changing process is largely victimless. 

I often think about the rest of you when I’m saying the name of this town over the phone. It sounds to me like I’ve got marbles in my mouth. It never rolls off the tongue.

I’ve wondered if everyone else gets tired of spelling it out or trying to enunciate the name so it’s easier for someone to hear the double “l” at the end. Myself, it’s always marbles.

If Powell River was an easy name to say, we’d maybe have one reason to fight to keep it as the town moniker. But it’s awful. We should just admit that it has no redeeming qualities.

I vote we change it and this time, let’s not name it after a person.

Mr. Powell’s legacy has not aged well. Most historical legacies don’t. It reminds me of Nellie McClung, who I used to think was someone to admire and then I found out she was an unapologetic anti-Semite. I know that ugly truth doesn’t mean she didn’t help the women’s suffrage movement, but I do believe it means she shouldn’t be personally celebrated forever in the names of schools and towns.  

Israel Powell played a central role in one of the most vicious policies ever enacted by a democratic government and its consequences are still being felt. Anybody who has suffered abuse knows you don’t just “get over it.” And the policy of abuse into submission was inflicted on small children over multiple generations - let’s not forget that when we consider whether Mr. Powell is worthy of this town.

We are talking about little kids being horrifically abused. You’d think we’d be trying pretty hard to distance ourselves from him instead of making excuses not to change the status quo.

Part of reconciliation is admitting the truth about what happened to Indigenous kids and the other part is to make amends to them where possible. This name change is possible and not all that hard.

We could easily dustbin the name Powell River and pick something people will be happy to claim for generations. The name Powell will never, ever be that. Never.

The sooner we say goodbye to the mouth full of marbles that celebrates an era of horrific child abuse the better. In this case, I’ll happily change it for love.

Melanie Jordan is a qathet Regional District resident.