A while back, I wrote a post lamenting the fact that European settlers had changed the name of the area I live from “Lheidli T’enneh” (meaning “people of the confluence” or “people of the confluence of the two rivers”) to “Prince George” (meaning Europeans were in the habit of naming places after monarchs who had very little to do with anything in this part of the world). I much prefer the meaning contained in the original name over the colonial nature of the latter.
Prince George Citizen editor Neil Godbout has called for Prince George to be renamed Lheidli T’enneh for the same reasons. I don’t know whether this is likely to happen, but after noticing that Vancouver-based radio producer Garth Mullins says he lives on the Salish Sea in his Twitter bio, it occurs to me there is nothing stopping me from taking a similar step.
So now my homepage says I live in the traditional territory of the Lheidli T’enneh, and my Twitter and Google+ locations are set to “Lheidli T’enneh/Prince George”. LinkedIn and Facebook don’t recognize custom location names, so on Facebook I’ve added “Lheidli T’enneh” as one of the places I’ve lived and also made it my home address in the “contact” section, and I put “…in Lheidli T’enneh traditional territory” at the end of my LinkedIn tagline. I plan to update other profiles as I come across them (I have a lot).
I love this city, but the name “Prince George” evokes no meaning for me. “Lheidli T’enneh”, on the other hand, is location-specific, is tied to a long history, and actually describes the place I live and who I am: a person in a city at the confluence.
By making this change, all I’m doing is typing a few words into online profiles. But it feels like there’s a whole lot more meaning there now.
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