Slang term removed from B.C. place names

A term some people consider insulting is being eliminated from all official place names in British Columbia.

"Squaw" is an old word used to describe an aboriginal woman.

The Canadian Oxford Dictionary labels it "offensive".

Aboriginal groups, including the First Nations Summit and the Union of the B.C. Indian chiefs, asked the province's Environment and Parks Ministry to stop using the term squaw.

The government has now agreed, announcing plans to rename all 11 places in B.C. where the word is used.

These include Squaw Creek, Squaw Fish Lake, Squaw Mountain, Squaw Island and Squaw Range.

Before the Atlas is rewritten, people living the area will be consulted. Aboriginal groups, historical societies, and government officials will also be involved in choosing new names.

Preference will be given to other traditional terms or locally used names.

One change has already been made, however. The freshwater fish known as the "squawfish" has been renamed "pikeminnow" by fish scientists.

Saskatchewan, Alberta, Prince Edward Island and the Yukon have already removed the word from geographical names. Dozens of American states have done the same.

In recent years, the B.C. government has replaced the derogatory term "Chinaman" which had been used in the names of various sites.