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Powell River councillor ‘mocked’ Indigenous place names: Tla’amin Nation – BCIT News

February 6, 2024

Powell River city councillor Jim Palm is facing criticism after making a comment which a local First Nation has deemed racist.

During a January 30th meeting discussing a change to the city’s name, councilor Palm used a made-up place name “wakawana” while referencing the language of the Tla’amin Nation.

The Nation released a statement on February 5th, saying Palm’s use of the word was ‘racist’ and ‘wholly inappropriate’. Tla’amin Hegus (Chief) John Hackett says comments like these are incredibly hurtful and are felt closely by the community.

“I felt very insulted, very insulted. We have invested a lot of time and effort to restore our language, to restore our place names. These names reflect our presence and history and to make a mockery of them is just really insulting.” – Hegus John Hackett of Tla’amin Nation

The city of Powell River and the Tla’amin Nation have been in talks to re-name the community since 2021. The name Powell is derived from Israel Powell, BC’s first Superintendent of Indian Affairs and a large contributor in the establishment of the Residential School system. The Tla’amin Nation says the name is a constant reminder of the abuses inflicted on Indigenous people.

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