Shelly Boyd of the Sinixt Nation told city council on Monday that the Sinixt word for the Nelson area means “dead trees.” Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Sinixt ask for Indigenous names on signs

Shelly Boyd said she visited city council to open a dialogue

Shelly Boyd would like to see signage in and around Nelson with Sinixt words for places and things.

“The city could do it or we could do it,” she said. “It is not too hard or expensive to put up a sign.”

The Arrow Lakes facilitator for the Colville Confederated tribes, which include the Sinixt, spoke to Nelson city council on Monday.

She didn’t specifically request signage, she just suggested it. She was there to open a dialogue, she said, “about naming some places with traditional names. It might bring greater understanding. It’s about promoting language and it is also about promoting truth. If this was the original name of this place, we should know that.”

She said a good example can be found in the Flathead Valley in Montana.

“We would love to have it done throughout the area. You know this information, this knowledge, is all locked up in books. We still have some remaining fluent speakers who have been speakers since birth. It would be nice to have it done in a time that they could see this.”

She said names are part of the truth side of the truth and reconciliation process.

“According to National Geographic, our language is one of the 10 most endangered in the world.”

Mayor Deb Kozak thanked Boyd for coming, and asked, “Why now?”

“Why not now?” Boyd replied. She said she wanted to make an appearance to increase information about her culture and language, and she said she would be going to other city councils as well.

Kozak asked Boyd whether she had talked to other regional aboriginal groups about her signage ideas.

“You can only work with who comes to the table,” Boyd said. “Reconciliation and truth and partnerships is where we should all be looking.

“This territory is historically Sinixt but how things change and where people come later on, that is part of changes in history and we have to respect that. I don’t want to be negative toward other native people.”

Boyd’s presentation was made at a committee of the whole meeting, where council hears presentations but does not make decisions on them.

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