What’s in a name change


Bill Curry considers the department formerly known as Indian Affairs.

At first glance, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s reclassification appears to be in keeping with prevailing moves toward political correctness: replacing a label that doesn’t have much relevance any more with one more widely accepted. “Indian” is dated, in much the same way as Inuit are no longer called Eskimos. But there is power in naming. The semantic shift could have all sorts of consequences for native people from the laws governing their treatment, the services they get, and even their identities.


What’s in a name change

  1. The word ‘Indian’ was stupid from the beginning. Columbus did not discover India.  But I’m not fond of ‘aboriginal’ either….it makes me think of Australia and boomerangs. Far better would be ‘indigenous’ or ‘first people’ or even ‘originals’.

    But I suppose the first change in centuries shouldn’t be sneered at.  It’s progress, however slow.

    •   But I’m not fond of ‘aboriginal’ either…

      Neither are many of the First Nations peoples.  Many see it as a colonial word (not that Indian is any better).

      It’s difficult though, isn’t it?  On one hand, it would be nice if the Federal Government had consulted First Nations, Metis, and Inuit groups, but, realistically, they would have probably settled on Aboriginal anyway.  After all, Minister of First Nations, Metis, Inuit, and other Canadian Indigenous Peoples is probably too long of a title for a business card.

      I will say that, as a member of the Alberta Metis Nation, I generally approve of the change, but I don’t think it makes any real difference.  Much ado about nothing.

      • Yes, very difficult. Now you’ve been tossed in with Taiwan aborigines …and other indigenous people everywhere. LOL

        Words are important though. They tend to frame a discussion.

  2. “The term Indian Affairs will eventually be removed from the department’s website, stationery and signage.”

    Well, in keeping with government’s quest to save money, I hope they use up the old stationery before getting more printed with the new name!!!

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