B.C. Liberals consider renaming Strait of Georgia to Salish Sea—Will Straight follow?

A show of respect to B.C.’s Native communities or a conspiracy to wipe out the Georgia Straight newspaper?

That question was raised by one CTV Web site reader in response to B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell’s announcement that the B.C. government should consider changing the name of the Strait of Georgia to the Salish Sea.

In response to that CTV story, Paolo wrote:

Hmmmm. My Conspiracy Theory:
Gordon Campbell and the Provincial Liberals have been after the Georgia Straight Newspaper for years because the Straight has been critical of the Liberals for years. By changing the name of the actual”¦[Strait of Georgia] to Salish Sea, they put the Newspaper between a rock and a hard place. No name change and the newspaper is in a right wing denial of aboriginal rights zone, a name change to Salish Sea and they are in a copyright infringement zone, a name change to something totally different reduces brand recognition and people will confuse them with metro and 24 hours. Wow, talk about the provincial liberals playing the game!

Here at the Straight, we haven’t taken the news quite so seriously. But it wouldn’t be the first time that the provincial government has taken a swing at us.

In October 2003, the B.C. Liberals attempted to strip theStraight of its status as a newspaper and assessed fines and penalties that totaled more than one million dollars. It took a groundswell of public support to force the Liberals’ witch-hunt to an end.

History knows the paper has survived a few other run-ins with the law since it’s founding in 1967.

Getting back to this Salish Sea business: granted, it would be a nice gesture if the B.C. Liberal government took the Chemainus First Nations’—the group that raised the idea of a name change—request seriously.

But it is highly unlikely that Campbell’s government will spend what will surely amount to millions of dollars to update thousands of maps, textbooks, and records that a geographic name change requires.

The B.C. Liberal government’s track record on dealing with B.C.’s Native communities is far from spectacular. One only has to look to recent stories in the Straight such as “Native deaths in custody come under scrutiny” or “Let’s build a better world for Native youth” for evidence of that.

So what are the odds that the Georgia Straight will soon appear on newsstands as the Salish See?

According to the Straight’s publisher, Dan McLeod, the idea doesn't hold water.




Mar 10, 2008 at 10:55pm


Recognising first nations and their valuable contribution to our province is important. Aboriginal place names are of great historical and cultural significance. In the spirit of a pluralistic society I am not in favour of renaming The Strait of Georgia.

I understand the need to include first nations and to celebrate the great tradition of our first peoples and would suggest other options. Our province is made up of regions and districts, however these areas are rarely seen on maps. Perhaps the government could initiate a "county system" with aboriginal names. Initiating a county system could replace regional districts and provide an invitation to first nations to become more participatory in regional affairs.

Creating counties with aboriginal names would be a wonderful way to celebrate our 150th birthday and a fine tribute to first nation ancestry.

Craig Takeuchi

Mar 10, 2008 at 10:57pm

I thought the conspiracy had more to do with renaming Greater Vancouver after a commuter daily.

Travis Lupick

Mar 10, 2008 at 11:11pm

Dan McLeod had a little more to say on the possibility of renaming the <em>Georgia Straight</em> newspaper:

1. We were thinking of changing the name anyway, because the pun has worn a bit thin over the past 40 years. Besides, it is confusing to some people. Visiting Americans get confused because they think we're from a place somewhere near Atlanta. Russian tourists think we're from an emerging power on the Black Sea. Gays are offended because they think we are pro-hetero and anti-gay.

2. We have considered <em>The Salish See</em>, but "See" doesn't have as much impact or meaning as "telling it straight". Personally I prefer <em>The Weekly Whulge</em> because it's unique and different. (See "<a target="_blank" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgia_Basin">Whulge</a>" on Wikipedia.)

3. But if they did change the name to <em>The Weekly Whulge</em>, soon the term would become commonplace. There would be "gale warnings for the Whulge" on every weather forecast, etc. For that reason, I would prefer to keep the name <em>The Georgia Straight</em>, because soon even the locals would be confused about where our name came from and what it means. Then we would be truly unique.

Travis Lupick

Mar 13, 2008 at 1:31pm

This comment was received through the <em>Straight</em>'s Letters department:

Good on Premier Campbell to attempt to get the Brits out of the "Georgia Straight". The next logical move would be to get "Columbia" out of our province, as it is a constant reminder of who may or may not have been the first European to enter the "Americas", to the general detriment of the native people. This happened either deliberately, or inadvertantly through various degrees of subjucation, trade practices,ethnic cleansing, religious encroachment, and perhaps the deadliest of all, diseases for which the locals had no immunity for. Good luck in the attempt, and keep going.

Norbert Kaysser
Port Coquitlam B.C.

P.S. I am OK with this paper remaining The Georgia Strait, as I used to sell it when it was a radical counter culture publication, double entendres, etc.