Western Arctic to Northwest Territories: MP calls for riding name change

The federal politician who represents the Northwest Territories says he wants to change the name of his riding to reflect it more accurately.

The federal politician who represents the Northwest Territories says he wants to change the name of his riding from Western Arctic to Northwest Territories — a name he says would reflect the region more accurately.

NDP MP Dennis Bevington introduced a bill in Parliament on June 19 calling for the name change.

Bevington said his riding's current name — Western Arctic — confuses people, especially those in Ottawa, since it doesn't clearly state where the riding is located.

"I just want the Northwest Territories to be well-understood in Parliament," Bevington told CBC News.

"I think it's very good for public relations to be called what we are."

Bevington said the riding was known as Northwest Territories from 1962 until 1976, when it was split into the Western Arctic and Nunatsiaq ridings.

The Nunatsiaq riding, which covered the eastern Arctic, was renamed as Nunavut when that territory was created in 1999.

Bevington said most northerners he has informally consulted since the fall have agreed that Western Arctic is a geographically confusing name for a riding that encompasses the Northwest Territories.

But Yellowknife residents who were asked about the name change Tuesday gave a variety of opinions on the matter, with several raising concerns that a name change would cost too much money and time.

Bevington said changing the riding name to Northwest Territories would have minimal cost since it would mostly involve entering the new name into a computer system.

He also stressed that changing the federal riding's name is not meant to revive the longtime debate over changing the N.W.T.'s name — a debate that heated up in 1996 when a prank proposal to rename the territory "Bob" became a seriously popular choice alongside aboriginal names.

"I'm not really looking at being involved … in a discussion of a new name for the Northwest Territories," Bevington said.

Instead, he said he wants his riding's new name to cash in on the N.W.T.'s emerging identity.

"The Northwest Territories is coming into its own and has a great deal of cachet within the rest of Canada," he said.