Cam Fortems – Kamloops This Week
The family of Roderick Haig-Brown has come out in favour of a proposal to give the iconic park that bears his name a Secwepemc moniker. B.C. Parks acknowledged last month it is in discussions to rename Roderick Haig-Brown park as part of its overall strategy to highlight First Nations culture and history.
Celia Haig-Brown, daughter of Roderick and a professor in the faculty of education at York University in Toronto, said her immediate reaction to the idea was positive. She then contacted her siblings for their input.
“We all immediately agreed — no question,” she said.
Renaming to reflect First Nations has become commonplace in Canada. A notable example are the former Queen Charlotte Islands, which are now known as Haida Gwaii. Haig-Brown said in Toronto, where she lives, Anishinabe names are being added to street signs.
“I’m really aware of this move to recognize First Nations through naming,” she said.
Roderick Haig-Brown park was established in 1977 and given the moniker of the famed conservationist and author of nearly 30 books. During the dominant sockeye run every four years, the park is visited by hundreds of thousands of people from around the world. Haig-Brown last lived in Kamloops in the mid-1980s and her family maintains a cabin at Sabiston Lake. As part of her research, she has done extensive work with Secwepemc First Nations. She called Roderick Haig-Brown Park “a pilgrimage” for her family, but noted it is important for reconciliation and history to use First Nations names.
She said her father, who died shortly before the park was named after him, would be “delighted” at the idea of a Secwepemc name. While there have been suggestions of a hybrid compromise that would retain the current name and add a Secwepemc title, Haig-Brown said her family’s only wish is for the plaque with her father’s poem to remain.
“I’d like that to stay there,” she said.