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Siwash Rock name disrespectful to First Nations says Vancouver Park Board

Last Updated Oct 12, 2017 at 8:40 am PDT

Siwash Rock (Source: Twitter @parkboard)

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Park Board says it has taken a first step toward righting “acts of dispossession and disrespect” in Stanley Park by considering whether to rename a prominent rock.

The board has voted unanimously to work with Coast Salish Nations to determine if Siwash Rock should be renamed.

The rock, a massive 18-metre, basalt sea stack, stands on the park’s northwest shore near the entrance to Vancouver’s harbour.

The word Siwash is a derogatory term for an Indigenous person and comes from Chinook jargon, which was the first method of communication between Europeans and Coast Salish peoples.

Siwash is the Chinook interpretation of the French word sauvage, or savage.

The motion adopted by the board Wednesday night says the name is an “ongoing symbol of disrespect” and, in a tweet, the board says it has directed staff to work with the Coast Salish and report back on the potential renaming process.

In First Nations culture the rock represents a man turned to stone to honour his purity and dedication to fatherhood.