Maritimers react to potential name change of Confederation Bridge
In a unanimous vote, members of the Prince Edward Island Legislature have opted to ask the federal government to change the name of the Confederation Bridge to Epekwitk Crossing.
"Obviously the change of name would take some legal ramifications for sure,” said P.E.I. Premier Dennis King. “And obviously, if this did go through, there would be a considerable marketing campaign to explain what it is and why it is.”
Epekwitk is the traditional term in the Mi’kmaw language to describe P.E.I., meaning "something lying on the water."
Brad Manderville worked on the construction of the bridge in the 90s.
"I was a surveyor over there, so I looked after putting the first pieces of the bridge in the water actually.... I remember the contest of naming it originally, so if they want to change it would be a great idea,” Manderville said. “I stand behind the name change.”
Twenty-six years ago, Ottawa overrode the idea to name it Epekwitk Crossing, going against the panel who came up with it, and favouring the second choice, Confederation Bridge.
"I think it’s a great idea,” said Colin Curry. “I think we are a lot more informed about our past now than we used to be, and it’s part of the discussion that we're having as a society now. So I fully support the name change.”
“As non-indigenous settlers, we're neighbours on this land. Now we need to recognize that we need to make space for indigenous history.”
Some in New Brunswick drew parallels to the name of the Saint John River.
"I actually think it's a really great idea,” said Susan Holt. “We have to take meaningful steps towards reconciliation, and I think recognizing the original name of the land really honours the Mi'kmaq people. I think here in Fredericton we should make steps to do the same for the Wolastoq River.”
One Islander living in Fredericton said he would be glad to see the change.
"I'm sure some people aren't going to be super happy about it, but I'd be happy to see it,” said Ryan Chiasson. “I don't have any real attachment to the name Confederation Bridge. I'm from P.E.I., and everything's named 'Confederation' I think if we take the name Confederation off of one thing it will be okay.”
The United Nations has declared an International Decade of Indigenous Languages, to begin in 2022.