Nova Scotia

2 years after complaint, review for Barrington communities with offensive names pending

Almost two years after a Mahone Bay, N.S., man laid a complaint about offensive place names in the Municipality of Barrington, the matter still hasn't been reviewed. The place names include Cape Negro, Cape Negro Island, Negro Harbour and Squaw Island.

Municipality of Barrington is home to communities such as Cape Negro, Cape Negro Island and Negro Harbour

The Municipality of Barrington, N.S., is home to communities such as Cape Negro and Cape Negro Island. (Nova Scotia Archives/Google Maps/CBC)

Almost two years after a Mahone Bay, N.S., man laid a complaint about offensive place names in the Municipality of Barrington, the matter still hasn't been reviewed.

The municipality is home to communities that include Cape Negro, Cape Negro Island, Negro Harbour and Squaw Island.

In August 2018, the municipality contacted the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre and the Acadia First Nation to begin the review process. But before consultations could get started, the process was taken over by a provincial office called Geographic Information Services.

Changing a community or place name has to follow federal guidelines established by the Geographical Names Board of Canada.

Barrington CAO Chris Frotten said a public meeting was scheduled for Birchtown, N.S., in June 2019, but provincial officials postponed it.

The lighthouse in Cape Negro is shown in this undated photo. (Nova Scotia Archives)

"It hadn't been straightforward to get everyone onboard for a single date," he wrote in an email to CBC News. "To the best of our knowledge no engagement session has been scheduled."

Frotten said that while the province is in charge of the process, the municipality does expect to be involved.

'They didn't take me seriously,' says man who filed complaint

Robert Steele, the man who made the initial complaint, said his attempts to find out what's happening have been ignored.

"I know they didn't take me seriously," he wrote in an email to CBC. "There's no better time than the present to revisit the rescinding of all the negative landmarks and roads that are derogatory towards black people."

Krista Higdon, a spokesperson for Geographic Information Services, said in an emailed statement that citizen and community engagement is an important part of the process.

Higdon said plans for a public session were delayed because of COVID-19, but the province is looking at alternative methods such as an online session.

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

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