Lecture looks at origins of place names

Investigating placenames can be a way of connecting with an unknown - or untold - history.

University of Northern B.C.'s writer in residence is starting that conversation Thursday as part of the Anthropology in our Backyards public lecture series that looks at names in Prince George.

article continues below

"On the very land that you live and work and play and have a family, every single day of your life, do you even know the very territory that's under your feet right now?" asked Janet Rogers, a poet and performer who started her residence in September. "How much do you know about it?"

"I'm providing with this talk as a greater opportunity for us to even consider how much we know about the territories where we live everyday."

That conversation came to the city in June with the renaming of Lheidli T'enneh Memorial Park from Fort George Park.

"It's about language revitalization," said Rogers, who will talk about her experience in Victoria, which reinstated the Salish name Pkols for Mount Douglas in 2013.

"When we reference territories by their original placenames, this isn't just indigenous history, this is history of all the people."

Take Prince George, for example.

"I wonder how many people know who exactly that is," Rogers said. "Who is Prince George? Where did he come from? Did he ever live here? What part did he play in the namesake of the city?

"That is a colonial history, one that excludes indigenous presence and indigenous history. Whereas when you reference indigenous names, this is where all the settler people came into," she said. "And it's part of their history too."

Rogers will also touch on common themes she's noticed when it comes to selecting names.

"The one distinction that I'm discovering in reintroducing original placenames to territories is that when indigenous communities reference territory, it's always having to do with the land - where the land is situated or where it is in reference to other landmarks," Rogers said.

"And when colonial, settler nations name territories it's always after someone."

"The disconnect in the language, I think eliminates an opportunity for people to have kind of deeper more meaningful relationships with that land."

Rogers plans on looking at local trail names, but said she'll let locals speak to the renaming of the park.

"I'm not trying to convince anybody of anything. I'm a visitor as much as I am a visitor in Victoria as well," said Rogers, who comes from Mohawk territory.

"If you're not on board with indigenous language usage on the land and original placenames, just to consider where you are. Does your personal history begin at the time of contact? Do you want your personal history to include pre-contact?"

The event runs from 7 to 9 p.m. in room 7-158.

Read Related Topics


NOTE: To post a comment you must have an account with at least one of the following services: Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ You may then login using your account credentials for that service. If you do not already have an account you may register a new profile with Disqus by first clicking the "Post as" button and then the link: "Don't have one? Register a new profile".

The Prince George Citizen welcomes your opinions and comments. We do not allow personal attacks, offensive language or unsubstantiated allegations. We reserve the right to edit comments for length, style, legality and taste and reproduce them in print, electronic or otherwise. Comments that contain external links will not be permitted. For further information, please contact the editor or publisher, or see our Terms and Conditions.

comments powered by Disqus

SNC-Lavalin scandal POLL

What would you like to see happen in the wake of the SNC-Lavalin scandal?

or  view results

Sign Up For Our e-Newsletter!
  • 97/16

    Prince George's Weekly News

Popular Citizen

Community Event Calendar

Find out what's happening in your community and submit your own local events.

Lowest Gas Prices in Prince George
Prince George Gas Prices provided by GasBuddy.com