Negro Brook Road should be renamed, say area residents
Rural route used to be named after the 'N-word'
Residents of a small rural community in south central New Brunswick are pushing to change the name of their street, called Negro Brook Road.
The street in South Branch, near Sussex, is on the route to several provincial tourist attractions, including Fundy National Park.
Up until 10 years ago, it was named after a once-common racial epithet.
"I'm not gonna say it. I can say to you it was the 'N-word,'" said Susan Tyler, the only permanent resident of the road.
But even the cleaned-up version leaves her and other area residents uncomfortable.
"If anybody can say that they don't mean anything bad and they use that word, I think they're being intentionally ignorant," said Tyler. "I don't believe that you need to carry on symbols.”
When we do have to share the name of the road, because people need to find where we are … it's embarrassing.- Zach Melanson, area resident
Zach Melanson, who works on a farm down the road, agrees it's time the name was changed.
"When we do have to share the name of the road, because people need to find where we are … it's embarrassing," he said.
Melanson says he met with Department of Tourism, Heritage, and Culture officials in December about having the name changed, but has not heard back since.
At least four other places in New Brunswick have the word negro in them, including Negro Head, Negro Point, Negro Lake and Little Negro Lake.
A national search came up with 36 results.
'Part of history'
“I'm not necessarily sure that names of objects and places should be changed," said Donald Alward, curator of the Albert County Museum.
"It's a shout-out to recognizing the history that has taken place. Although it may be a negative part of history, we still need to acknowledge it in order to move forward from it," he said.
Melanson, however, contends there's no historical reason for the road to be named after such a cruel word, aside from past prejudices.
“If there seemed to be some cultural relevancy from all of the people I've spoken to, it doesn't seem like there is a history here, other than a bigoted one," he said.