British Columbia

B.C. pledges to change racist and sexist name of rural North Okanagan road

Twenty years ago, the B.C. government conducted a broad review of place and street names and replaced dozens of racist, sexist and derogatory terms, but says it's unable to confirm why the problematic road name in Lumby, B.C., was missed.

'It's long overdue,' says former Westbank First Nations chief

Former Westbank First Nations chief Roxanne Lindley, who is currently living in Lumby, B.C., says she was shocked at seeing a racist, sexist term in the name of a local rural road near where she lives. (Westbank First Nation)

WARNING: This story contains offensive language

B.C.'s Ministry of Transportation is confirming it will change the name of a rural north Okanagan road, after complaints from residents. 

Former Westbank First Nations chief Roxanne Lindley, who currently lives in Lumby, B.C., wasn't one of the formal complainants but says she was "shocked" when seeing "Sq--w Valley Road," a long and winding rural route near where she lives.

"I was angered and somewhat surprised considering the day and age that we're in that we still see derogatory racist road signs within our territory.  [I'm] very upset," Lindley told CBC Daybreak South's Chris Walker. 

"I can assure you when contact occurred 150 years ago ... people in our traditional territory would have had a place name for that area. And I can assure you that it wouldn't have been called what it is today," she said.

Missed in provincial review

Lindley expects any number of Indigenous and non-Indigenous residents may have raised concerns over the years.

Twenty years ago, the B.C. government conducted a broad review of provincial place names and streets and replaced dozens of racist, sexist, and derogatory terms.

"We are unable to confirm why this did not happen in 2001 but are committed to working through a name change now," the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure stated in a written response to CBC News.   

"[The Ministry] takes the concerns put forth by local First Nations communities on this matter very seriously. We are taking steps to find a more suitable road name which involves consultation with the Splatsin, whose traditional territory this road resides within."

The government did not provide a timeline or deadline for the change of name.

Other jurisdictions across North America have replaced the term in recent years. 

This summer, a ski resort that was the host site of the 1960 Winter Olympics in California will announce a new name to eliminate the racist, sexist term.

Parks Canada renamed a trail in Banff in 2020.

"It's long overdue,"  said Lindley, who welcomes the local renaming. 

"It's about education, about understanding, about getting rid of those old thoughts and it is an old thought."

Lindley hopes the Ministry will consider a Splatsin name, in consultation with the whole community.

Tap the link below to hear Roxanne Lindley's inteview on Daybreak South:

With files from Daybreak South