Nova Scotia

Mahone Bay man wants N.S. to drop 'negro' from local place names

Cape Negro, Cape Negro Island and Negro Harbour can still be found on Nova Scotia maps. Robert Steele said it's time for those areas to get new names.

Cape Negro, Cape Negro Island and Negro Harbour can still be found on Nova Scotia maps

Cape Negro, Cape Negro Island and Negro Harbour can still be found on Nova Scotia maps. (Google )

A man from the Mahone Bay area has asked the Nova Scotia government to change the place names in the province that include the archaic and derogatory term "negro."

Cape Negro, Cape Negro Island and Negro Harbour can still be found on Nova Scotia maps.

Robert Steele moved to Nova Scotia from Toronto 10 years ago. His parents are originally from Jamaica.

Steele said he stumbled across the place names recently after he dealt with a racial slur at a coffee shop.

"I don't think it's going to change the mentality of everyone," said Steele." I just think it's a place to start."

Detailed process to change name

There is a detailed process to change a place name that could include getting letters from local politicians and municipal governments, creating a petition or holding a plebiscite in the affected community.

The province follows national guidelines published by the Geographic Names Board of Canada. 

Steele said he's willing to do what's needed.

"You try not to get discouraged," he said.

"When it comes to changing things, you have to know there's a long line of things that may have to happen first."

Municipality seeking feedback

The Municipality of the District of Barrington, where many of the places names are located, has not yet decided if it will support the application.

At a council meeting Aug. 27, councillors agreed to ask for feedback from the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre in Shelburne, N.S.

They also asked the Acadia First Nation for comment on Squaw Island, which is located within the municipality as well.

"We certainly want their input and respect what they have to say about that," said Warden Eddie Nickerson.

Provincial officials said they are reviewing the submission and did not know how long the process could take because some applications require more research.

About the Author

Pam Berman

Reporter

Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca