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Proposed Stanley Park name change has 'struck a nerve' with Vancouver residents: parks board commissioner

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  • Don Bain
    Proposed Stanley Park name change has struck a nerve with Vancouver residents: parks board commissioner Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson suggests park could
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 4, 2010
      Proposed Stanley Park name change has 'struck a nerve' with Vancouver residents: parks board commissioner
      Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson suggests park could be known by both names

      By Yolande Cole, The Province
      July 3, 2010

      Vancouver parks board commissioner Ian Robertson, seen here in a 2007 file photo, is strongly opposed to the suggestion that Stanley Park be renamed Xwayxway Park in honour of its First Nations heritage.
      Photograph by: Jon Murray, The Province
      The idea of changing the name of Stanley Park to the aboriginal name Xwayxway has "struck a nerve" with with Vancouver residents, according to a parks board commissioner who says he is strongly opposed to renaming the region.

      Ian Robertson, who was chair of the parks board when a major windstorm struck the park in 2006, says that if a formal proposal comes before the board, he will oppose it.

      "I think that it's become an icon and it means a lot as Stanley Park to millions of Canadians and thousands of Vancouverites," Robertson says. "I think to change it is really the wrong decision."

      The suggestion of renaming the park was raised June 30 by a Squamish elder at the opening of Klahowya Village, a new First Nations village display in the park. No formal proposal has been introduced to rename the park, which is located on federal land and leased by the city.

      Rick Antonson, CEO of Tourism Vancouver, says integrating the aboriginal name Xwayxway (pronounced ""kwhy-kway") alongside the Lord Stanley namesake that is so familiar to Vancouverites could draw interest from international visitors.

      "I would say that one of the points that visitors constantly are fascinated about from our corner of the globe would be our indigenous people's history, and the art and the language and how things have been in tradition," he says. "This is one more . . . really interesting step-off point for a discussion about the history of our indigenous peoples."

      Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says that while a decision on renaming the park would ultimately fall to Ottawa, the public should be involved in the discussion.

      Robertson says the park could be known by both names.

      "I think there's a way of doing this that respects the name Stanley Park, and people will probably still continue to call it that, but also to bring back the original name of the land there, and I think that's important to have both working," Robertson told reporters at a citizenship ceremony on Canada Day.

      Squamish Chief Ian Campbell says he'd like to see the park renamed in recognition of the area's aboriginal history. Xwayxway was the name of a permanent aboriginal village located where Lumberman's Arch is today.

      "I would want to see Xwayxway being recognized first and foremost," he says. "We have many other areas that are certainly reflective in representation of the general Canadian public and history, but not a whole lot that represents the contribution of First Nations leaders and our history that spans a millenia."

      Robertson says he's familiar with the Xwayxway name from growing up in Vancouver.

      "I've heard it before and I think it's a name that's been heard on that land for thousands of years," he says.


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