The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is in the process of changing the name of Squaw Valley Road in the rural Lumby area. (Brittney Brewer photo)

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is in the process of changing the name of Squaw Valley Road in the rural Lumby area. (Brittney Brewer photo)

Rural Okanagan road to be renamed to remove Indigenous slur

Transportation ministry is in the process of renaming rural road

A Lumby-area road is at least a few kilometres behind the times and is due for a name change.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is in the process of finding a more culturally appropriate name for Squaw Valley Road, in order to part ways with a word that’s become a racial slur for Indigenous women.

A spokesperson said the ministry is consulting with Indigenous communities, as well as those directly impacted by the name change such as the regional district.

In the minutes of Lumby council’s Feb. 16 meeting, RDNO Electoral Area D director Rick Fairbairn reported that the ministry was considering changing the name to Ireland Creek Road. However, the ministry was unable to confirm this or any other potential names until the consultation process has ended.

The rural road has had its name for more than 100 years. The long, winding road consists of three branches in the Silver Hills area, connecting to Lumby-Mabel Lake Road at its western end.

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According to the Ministry of Transportation’s highway permits and approvals manual, the ministry does not normally consider a road name change unless at least half of the property owners on the road petition for one.

In this case, concerns from the public triggered action from the ministry.

“Concerns were brought to the ministry’s attention regarding this road name due to the derogatory meaning of the current name towards Indigenous women,” the spokesperson said in an email to the Morning Star.

“We are taking steps to find a more suitable road name which involves consultation with Splatsin, whose traditional territory this road resides within.”

Eileen Brewer, a co-founder of the non-profit Silver Hills Guesthouse, says she is supportive of the name change. She and her husband started the Guesthouse in 1984 to provide health and wellness support to the area.

Brewer has been in the area long enough to remember a time when the word was commonplace.

“It’s been here for a long time, like 100 and some years,” she said.

One of the few businesses located on the road, the Silver Hills Guesthouse has heard people express their distaste for the road’s name when booking reservations.

“Sometimes you even hate to say it,” Brewer said when relaying the address to a guest by phone.

In addition to the alternative name, the ministry is also unable to confirm when the name change will take place. That too will be decided once consultations wrap up.

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Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
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