Stanley Park Name Change Proposed, Xwayxway

Comments 32 by Rebecca Bollwitt

In a recent public appearance Ian Campbell, the Chief of the Squamish First Nation, suggested that Stanley Park return to its original name, Xwayxway (pronounced “kwhy-kway”). This has caused quite a stir locally with the thought of the international impact among other concerns.

A Squamish elder raised the idea at the opening Wednesday of Klahowya Village and the Spirit Catcher Train in Stanley Park. Xwayxway was the name of a permanent aboriginal village located where Lumberman’s Arch is today. The name refers to a ceremonial mask. [The Province]

Fall Photowalk in Stanley Park
Photo credit: John Bollwitt on Flickr

Campbell made the suggestion at the opening of a native exhibit at the park, which includes a First Nations village. B.C. Tourism Minister Kevin Kreuger, who attended the ceremonial opening of the village, said he “would happily carry forth a proposal to change the name of the park. Vancouver Coun. Ellen Woodsworth said she thought the change to Xwayxway was an “excellent suggestion” and said First Nations should make a formal proposal. [CBC]

Originally named by the City of Vancouver in 1888 after Lord Stanley (the same man for which the NHL trophy is named), it has been Vancouver’s crown jewel for over a hundred years.

Autumn in the Park

Stanley Park is near and dear to my heart and I believe that its magic would be the same no matter what the signs on Georgia Street or Google Maps read. That being said this is a fairly sticky subject… where do the traditions and history begin and end? There could also be a combination of the two, perhaps a certain area or section called “Xwayxway at Stanley Park” or vice versa.

I’d love to know what you think about the talk of a name change (please keep in mind that this is not a formal proposal yet by any means).
[poll id=”56″]

Update According to News1130 B.C.’s tourism minister says name of Vancouver’s Stanley Park won’t be changed, but a second name might be added.

However the Vancouver Sun is now reporting that Tourism Vancouver is all for the name change:

While public reaction to changing the name of the city’s iconic park has been mostly negative, Tourism Vancouver president Rick Antonson said he’s in favour of the idea.

“I think it is a wonderful name, and the opportunity to be a part of taking that name internationally to help introduce it would be just a wonderful, though challenging, opportunity,” he said. “There is nothing to lose by doing this and much to be gained.”

Update The Globe and Mail reports that according to the Federal Government, a name change is out of the question (while an addition isn’t).

“Stanley Park is a park that’s rich in history, and rich in heritage,” said Mr. Day, adding that the park was known and loved to people from B.C. and around the world.

“It was designated as a park well over a hundred years ago by the governor-general of the day, Lord Stanley. And it is our intention to maintain the name as Stanley Park, respecting and reflecting on a wonderful heritage going back for hundreds and hundreds of years – our aboriginal peoples and those immigrants who settled here later and have continued to enjoy the park.”

Related posts: Top Five for Stanley Park, History Tidbits: Stanley Park, History Tidbits: Pauline Johnson’s Legends of Vancouver, Read all posts in my Stanley Park category since 2004.

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32 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. SueFriday, July 2nd, 2010 — 10:47am PDT

    I’m all for acknowledging the aboriginal roots in the park area, but I don’t think we’d be doing ourselves any favours by changing the name of this world-renowned site to something most locals, let alone tourists, would have a hard time pronouncing. If that shows up the shocking lack of cultural sensitivity in our society, so be it – but I don’t think the name change would have a net positive impact for tourism.

    Gordo and the other politicians are simply grand-standing for PR benefits. It’s not like they actually give a crap about aboriginal awareness. Changing a park name is easier than negotiating fair settlements on land or fishing rights, though.

  2. Ian Andrew BellFriday, July 2nd, 2010 — 10:53am PDT

    Stanley Park was Xwayxway
    now it’s Stanley Park not Xwayxway
    been a long time gone Xwayxway
    why did Xwayxway get the works?
    That’s nobody’s business but the jerks.

  3. TylerFriday, July 2nd, 2010 — 11:07am PDT

    Like the comment on the facebook posting.. How are we to explain the name change to the thousands of tourists who flock to the park on a daily basis?

    Tourist: Where is Stanley Park?
    Me: You mean Xwayxway?
    Tourist: Huh?
    Me: It’s no longer called Stanley Park, it’s called Xwayxway and pronounced ‘kwhy-kway’
    Tourist: Huh?
    Me sighs and shakes head.
    Tourist wanders down towards the large forested area surrounded by water.

    Why can’t we just keep it Stanley Park?

  4. JennieFriday, July 2nd, 2010 — 11:22am PDT

    Think of all the maps and resources that would have to change! I think there’d be a lot of “The Park Formerly Known As Stanley Park” quips going on for a year or so.

    As a stereotypical American tourist, I find comfort in the name “Stanley Park” rather than Xwayxway. It’s more approachable and endearing.

  5. Alan CFriday, July 2nd, 2010 — 11:22am PDT

    Hey, while we’re at it, maybe the NHL can change the trophy name to The Xwayxway Cup

  6. A Little CoffeeFriday, July 2nd, 2010 — 11:28am PDT

    I’m with Sue, this sounds like PR grandstanding to me. I don’t want to sound culturally insensitive but why do we need to change it? What’s broken about it that needs fixing? I’ve loved Stanley Park since I was a little baby in Vancouver and I would be so sad if they got rid of the name that has a special place in my heart. If they do change it I think it will go the way of the “Telus World of Science” where everyone still just calls it Science World anyway.

  7. johnFriday, July 2nd, 2010 — 12:29pm PDT

    I think there is room for compromise here. Certainly it wouldn’t be a good idea to just rename the park and leave it at that. Each year there are millions of visitors from all around the world who come to Stanley Park. Why not take advantage of this fact to help build awareness of the First Nations history in the park? For instance they could make Klahowya Village a year round attraction. I also like Rebecca’s suggestion for “Xwayxway at Stanley Park”.

    There are many possible ways forward.

  8. LaurenFriday, July 2nd, 2010 — 12:29pm PDT

    I think that it’s important to acknowledge the aboriginal traditions and names for places, but I agree that if the name would change, everyone would just keep calling it Stanley Park. Perhaps if the First Nations are really pushing it, there could just be more info in the park about its original name and First Nation significance. Changing the name would make for confusion and unnecessary costs for signs to be changed.

  9. izikavazoFriday, July 2nd, 2010 — 1:17pm PDT

    Oh my. Can’t we just subtitle it like they did with all the signs on Highway 99?

  10. Jacqui UnderwoodFriday, July 2nd, 2010 — 1:18pm PDT

    I like the idea of identifying the First Nations villages that were located throughout the peninsula, of which Xway-Xway was one.

    In fact, it was a major ceremonial centre and more creedance should be given that. Yes, we need to know more about our history. But re-writing history is not the way to do it!

    A name change is tokenism.

  11. Steffani CameronFriday, July 2nd, 2010 — 1:58pm PDT

    I’m getting tired of having to change everything to Native names. I think it’s more meaningful to put more Native art throughout the park with educational monuments, than the posturing of a namechange that will cost millions and have no real cultural impact. 

    Let’s consider artists’ renderings of what life in various Vancouver places looked like before man landed here & put them at points that overlook that spot. Like of The Lions at Prospect Point, with a telling of Native mythology about the Lions or how important Indian Arm was in regional travel, etc. 

    So, yeah, I’d be pissed at the sanctimonious meaningless impact it’d have, the costs, & the resentment it’d stir with some who just want us to have some of the Vancouver we were raised with.

  12. teebird150Friday, July 2nd, 2010 — 3:44pm PDT

    psst- forget about the HST. LOOK! OVER HERE! We’re floating something stupid and irrelavent! oooohh its shiny and native-y !

  13. David AllisonFriday, July 2nd, 2010 — 3:52pm PDT

    Aboriginal culture isn’t something that “was.” It is something that always has been. The name change to Stanley Park wasn’t something that the aboriginal communities agreed to, and are suddenly changing their mind. It’s always been called by an aboriginal name, for centuries on centuries.

    I’m in favour of a hyphenated or “shared” name. We shouldn’t ignore the aboriginal reality of the place because “we’re used to calling it Stanley Park” or because “I like it that way.”

    As we all start to realize the need for co-existence on equal terms with the First Nations who were here before us, outward facing symbols like re-naming are very important reminders that there were others here long before us.

  14. WendyFriday, July 2nd, 2010 — 4:16pm PDT

    I say change it! It means more to the native people to change the name than it means for us colonial descendants to keep it. As if any of us gives a crap about Lord Stanley! No… We’re just stubborn, and don’t adapt well to change. It’s pretty selfish.

    This is their land. We took it, we never gave it back, and we ruined their way of life. So let them rename the park. Let them rename *EVERYTHING*, and we STILL wouldn’t be even.

    Hey, I don’t like the PR grandstanding either… But this is the price we have to pay for our ancestors being bloodthirsty jerks.

  15. JeffFriday, July 2nd, 2010 — 5:39pm PDT

    The first time I saw this name I thought X-Way X-Way, what an odd name for a park (Thought I am now aware that it isn’t sounded like that). In reality Stanley Park didn’t use to be called this name. A former native village was once within the park boundaries. There were many other native villages within the park boundaries as well.

    I agree that there should be certain sections that are named specifically for these once native villages but don’t rename the entire park. Maybe add a native museum to another section of the park as well and name that after one of the former villages. I think that renaming the park from Stanley Park to Xwayxway would be bad for tourism.

  16. UrbanFriday, July 2nd, 2010 — 6:17pm PDT

    I think you’re being wishy-washy, Miss 604. Take a stand, why don’t you!

  17. CaioFriday, July 2nd, 2010 — 6:45pm PDT

    Its a really hard name to pronounce. I think I would keep on calling Stanley Park

  18. Corey Allan HawkinsFriday, July 2nd, 2010 — 7:39pm PDT

    What a load of BS!! I’m so sick of the Native people thinking that it’s their land. It’s OUR land. All of us. I’m sorry that there wasn’t a war in which someone conquered your people over a period of time, instead of slowly doing it, and with out an overwhelming use of guns. We did it with liquor, rape, small pocks and just more people. And I’m not apologizing for something that I had no control over. It happened to my family in England hundreds of years ago, and I don’t want my land back or an apology. I had family raped, murdered and killed. And all done via war!

    But this is about re-naming the park NOT about history…. So..

    When Lord Stanley arrived to view the park for the first he threw his arms to the heavens, as though embracing within them the whole of one thousand acres of primeval forest, and dedicated it ‘to the use and enjoyment of peoples of all colours, creeds, and customs, for all time. I name thee, Stanley Park.

    I couldn’t think of anyone better to have the park named after. I think it’s a great name it should remain this way despite what Mr. Cowbell wants, and despite what a group of natives wants. Let it go to vote. Let the people of BC decide what they want. Shouldn’t we all have a say?

  19. Derek K. MillerFriday, July 2nd, 2010 — 8:52pm PDT

    I doubt the original name encompassed the whole of what’s now the park, since that’s somewhat arbitrary. It would be a good name to dedicate to the area it used to represent, however, especially because I don’t think the area around Lumberman’s Arch has acquired another name since.

    The whole park? No, I don’t that would be useful.

  20. DougFriday, July 2nd, 2010 — 10:59pm PDT

    The natives did not create Stanley Park, the “white man” did.
    Enough of this renaming crap. Its time “we” stood up to the native onslaught. Just say NO!

  21. DerekFriday, July 2nd, 2010 — 11:23pm PDT

    The money that we would pour into a name change would be better spent on an awesome museum/art exhibit about the Xwayxway site. We should honour our history with meaningful action, not by a token name change.

  22. JanSaturday, July 3rd, 2010 — 7:25pm PDT

    First off, before Stanley Park there wasn’t a park. There was several villages in a wooded peninsula and ONE of them was apparently named xwayxway. It took European settlers to build, maintain that Park, and for Ottawa to lease it to the city as it still does.

    This is a federal matter so the City and that idiot running it better understand that. We don’t want some stupid hyphenated name with the world recognized Stanley. The Mayor and Tourism guy are a disgrace if they support this.

  23. The Resignation | MorallyRight.orgSunday, July 4th, 2010 — 10:43am PDT

    […] Stanley Park Name Change Proposed, Xwayxway » Vancouver Blog Miss 604 […]

  24. Keith ElliottMonday, July 5th, 2010 — 10:35am PDT

    OK, so I’m an old guy. First went to Stanley park well over 50 years ago – great place. How exactly do we know that this Xwayxway was in fact the original name? Is it on printed maps somewhere? I’m just asking – I don’t know.

    I’ve about had it with all this political correctness nonsense. Do I take it that Squamish will now be renamed Stanleyville, or perhaps Harpertown or some other equally ridiculous name?

    Has the Strait of Georgia been officially renamed yet? Or do the Indians want us to pay them money for that as well?

    Come on folks, enough is enough. It’s Stanley Park and always will be.

  25. karenTuesday, July 6th, 2010 — 11:22am PDT

    Coun. like Ellen Woodsworth should give up their position on coucil!
    She and “Wendy” can hand over their own property to the First Nations if they feel they have been so wronged. I was born in Canada, as were all my children and their children and work hard for what we have. I suppose Coun. Woodsworth does not sing “Oh Canada” either, after all it was just adopted as our national anthem in 1980.

  26. tuktoyuktukTuesday, July 6th, 2010 — 12:11pm PDT

    how bout we change the name and not tell anyone? oh wait thats what the city did to the people that lived there once Lord Stanley thought it would make a good “park” for people to enjoy. @ corey hawkins so being raped is okay. turn the other cheek, right? tell us that after you have kids. having your family’s land taken is okay? there lots of land right? vote on it? natives weren’t allowed to vote until 1960, well after the raping and pillaging and spreading of disease your people did here in the “new world”. was lord stanley from here anyway? who was he? change the name and maybe the mentality will follow.

  27. Ian Andrew BellTuesday, July 6th, 2010 — 4:16pm PDT

    Some folks need to read up before voicing their opinion… the land was designated as a military protectorate by the British in the late 1800s, long before it was leased to the city as a park.

    Even at the dedication of the park by Lord Stanley himself there were still villagers encamping on the peninsula in the storied village of Xwayxway. By the mid 1890s most of these residents had moved elsewhere, to be closer to the mills and commercial opportunities which the creation of the military preserve and later the park ironically prevented from happening anywhere near them. These people did not have their community stripped away from them — they voted with their feet.

    Times change. Haida art and culture is more prominent, more widely-distributed, and more popular today than it ever was prior to 1791. My family and I are all substantial supporters of First Nations and in particular Haida, Tlingit, and Tsimshian art and culture. As a couple of examples I wear a Haida Raven on my hockey goal mask, my mother is a volunteer at the Bill Reid Gallery.

    Their way of life has most certainly changed — so has ours — and not all for the better. But we are slowly but surely muddling through it and hopefully work it out before the propagation of oil and plastic destroy us all.

    The world has far bigger problems than tempering the sensitivities of those who are so far descended from the offended parties so as to be irrelevant. Joe Capilano willingly collaborated with the British … his descendants are the real holdouts. But altering a policy from 300 years ago is a losing proposition.

    And anyone who says we’ve never given “them” anything has not considered the massive cost of the perks afforded First Nations in our country. They are exempt from most sales taxes, property taxes, and personal income tax; they are eligible to receive post-secondary education at no cost; they receive extra benefits from dedicated government social programs; their bands and nations receive transfer payments from the Federal Government.

    Joe Capilano is proud to say that he earns 80% of every dollar in the Capilano Nation’s treasury, with the rest made up by the Feds — as though this is some testament to their prowess. Well, how about you earn 100% of every dollar like the rest of us and we’ll let you name the park whatever the fuck you like.

  28. Ian Andrew BellTuesday, July 6th, 2010 — 4:19pm PDT

    Or, actually, to provide a real comparative… 150% of every dollar is what we have to earn. I was being charitable.

  29. -*.incWednesday, July 7th, 2010 — 5:20pm PDT

    Why must we feel obligated to please the first nations?

  30. chupSaturday, July 17th, 2010 — 8:38am PDT

    Why not …. to please the frist nations ? Anyway, it is our land.
    Proud to be Frist Nation.

  31. AngieMonday, July 19th, 2010 — 4:31pm PDT

    I think a name is a name. To have the Lumberman’s Arch (area the Squamish Respected Elder Mr. Yelton) referred to would be an awesome idea to change that area’s name to Xwayxway… what’s so hard about learning FN culture, in learning to Pronounce the name is not a big deal… it would closing gaps that the government inflicted on FN people in the first place. If you’re not FN then you may not get this. I am FN, assimilation, segragation, oppression,was the way of the government, once upon a time… “kill the Indian in the man” and that has completely turned around 360, so, why not give us FN people the respect and attention to our traditional territories?? It would be fun learning and pronouncing this new word to tourists… and it would be culturally enduring and make a connection to history in a positive way…

  32. AngieMonday, July 19th, 2010 — 5:40pm PDT

    Mr. Elliot, Well, smartie pants… where is all our money then?? Why are so many of our First Nations people struggling with life in general… OR DO you not understand that… you are most likely non-Native to be down playing this to FN like you know everything about us… Did my grandparents ask to be separated from their parents at the young tender age of 4, 5 or 6 years old? NO, they didn’t! Do they complain about all the wrong doings?? NO, At least my grandparents don’t complain to me… I complain, I feel the hurt and pain of the effects of IRS… I see it so clearly today… I’m making a change… to better my life and my childrens lifes… to be proud of my heritage and my roots… don’t stomp on fire until you know the light of it… every situation carries a light… every human being is valuable… so are their thoughts and perspectives… be respectable guys… COME ON…

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