I am writing to continue the conversation with Kathryn Michel regarding the renaming of the Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park. My first response to her suggestion was delight that the park should take on a name given by the people whose traditional territory encompasses it. I most recently have had a wonderful experience filmmaking in Chase. My niece Helen Haig-Brown and I co-directed two films that followed the children and grandchildren of some of the people I interviewed for my 1988 book Resistance and Renewal: Surviving the Indian Residential School regarding their shifting relationship to education, from residential school to Secwepemc immersion.
I have since contacted my three siblings to ask for their input and we all agree this would be an elegant move: to give the park a name based in Secwpemctsin. Definitely having Secwepemc representation at the table regarding the name is essential to choosing appropriately. I know that there are existing traditional names for many spots in the area and feel it would be great if the name chosen reflected this long-standing relationship of people, salmon, land and rivers.
I feel strongly that my father, who had deep respect for Indigenous peoples would also be delighted to hear about this change. Definitely, as Kathryn Michel points out in her letter to the Salmon Arm Observer, naming is not a politically neutral act: it is an act of reconciliation in the full sense of putting something to rights. And as she goes on to say, “Haig-Brown would celebrate this change since the Secwepemc worldview of interconnectedness complements his teachings about the importance of connecting to the natural world,” We could not agree more.
I also want to acknowledge the important work he did in his lifetime working for rivers and salmon when so many others were exploiting the gifts our lands offer us. I do hope that the plaque with his poem can stay in its place of honour beside the spawning grounds.
Celia Haig-Brown, proud daughter of Roderick