Skip to content

LETTER: Name of new Banff pedestrian bridge should highlight Indigenous people

Editor: I’ve been reading about the new pedestrian bridge that will be built linking the two park areas in Banff. Terrific. However, I am not so enthused by the reports of the naming of the bridge.

Editor:

I’ve been reading about the new pedestrian bridge that will be built linking the two park areas in Banff.

Terrific.

However, I am not so enthused by the reports of the naming of the bridge. Indeed, the donation from the generous Pauw family – settlers here like me – is significant. But welcome to the early 21st century, and the history, new findings, and awareness we live with today.

That history includes that First Nations people were here, and we removed them from their lands. Recent revelations of the genocide carried out through the residential school program make settlers deeply and painfully aware of our complicity in many ‘crimes’.

Now we have an opportunity to, in a symbolic way, to make concessions and opportunities that will help recognize and repair relations with Indigenous citizens of Canada. This is done through acts of truth, attention, humility, recognition, reconciliation, and naming.

Language, how we use it, and how we place it speaks loudly. This place called Banff, first a wilderness, next settled by Indigenous people, then taken over by settlers, has become a thriving tourist town, which has enabled many to profit beyond measure.

The Town has an opportunity to be an example, and to show itself not just to celebrate the dollar, but to move with humble awareness of our social and psychic times. Regardless of administrative efficiency and contemporary agreements already signed, the Town must look back to agreements like Treaty 7, and to moral measures, and reconsider the naming of the new pedestrian bridge.

It ought to be given, solely, an Indigenous name; at the very least it could be given a name something like ‘[Indigenous name] Bridge, sponsored by the Wim & Nancy Pauw Foundation.’

To do anything less is an embarrassment.

Steven Ross Smith,

Banff