Ferry name rankles boss
Darron Monastery / Times Colonist – 13 January 2022 / kl. 9:36 | History: 356902
Photo: Glacier Media
A former chief and councilor of Snuneymuxw First Nation says he is “shocked and outraged” that a new ferry to operate the Nanaimo-Gabriola Island route has been given a name in the Kwakwaka’wakw language from ‘Na? Mg ? is First Nation, based in Alert Bay.
BC Ferries named its latest ferry in island class Gwawis, meaning the Raven of the Sea, and says the name was chosen with “input and support” from ‘Na? Mg? Is First Nation. The second ferry in the island class to sail the route this year, the Kwigwis (Sea Eagle), was also named by ‘Na? Mg? Is Nation.
Doug White says the name “shows a lack of respect” for the Snuneymuxw people as the ferry will sail in the water in the heart of Snuneymuxw First Nation.
“It’s shocking in this age of reconciliation and territorial recognition,” said White, a lawyer named Queen’s Council in 2020 and a member of the BC First Nations Leadership Council.
But BC Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall said the names of the Island Class ships are not related to the territories or routes on which they can sail.
“The ships are identical, standardized and interoperable,” she said. “They will be moved around the fleet as operational necessity dictates.”
Marshall said several indigenous nations and communities, including Snuneymuxw, were invited to participate in the name selection process.
Four of the six new ferries in the island class have First Nations names – Island K’ulut’a (Guinea Pig) and Island Nagalis (Dawn on the Land) – named by WeiWaiKum and WeWaiKai; and the island of Gwawis (Garden Raven) and the island of Kwigwis (Sea Eagle), named by ‘Namgis First Nation. The other two vessels are Island Aurora, which currently operates the Port McNeill routes to Alert Bay and Sointula, and Island Discovery.
The company is also partnering with the Brentwood Bay-based First Peoples’ Cultural Council to commission original artwork from original artists for the interior of the ferries.