By John Leblanc
A story that has gathered interest of late is that of Rachel Zellers, an historian and Mc Gill University PhD candidate studying critical race theory.
This enterprising young lady has requested that the Quebec Toponymie Commission change the official names of various sites throughout Quebec, which she and many others deem particularly offensive to the Black community.
The names in question are listed in the Repertoire Toponymique du Quebec, and include
Pejorative gems like Niggers Point, Nigger Rapides, Nigger Rock, Nigger Lake and Nigger River.
Rachel would like to see public consultations on any changes and, of course, a way the history of these sites can be remembered and not erased.
For example, the name Nigger River, according to the book ‘Forests and Clearings’ (1792-1874) by B.F. Hubbard, is derived from a family of Negroes named Tatton.
This family settled on the banks of this river located in Barnston in the Eastern Townships in 1804. So why not rename it “Tatton River” in memory of this Pioneer family?
In light of this campaign for change and Rachel Zellers’ online petition, the Quebec Toponymie Commission has announced that they will be looking to amend these names, as they are an insult to the dignity of the members of the Black community.
The Commission regarding these upcoming changes has given no timeline.