Powell River Regional District Contemplates Name Change

A Concept for the Regional District’s New Name

Using the name Powell River for a local government with a jurisdiction that stretches from Toba Inlet to Jervis Inlet and halfway across the Strait of Georgia to Lasqueti Island has presented problems in our relations with both the public and senior governments. The words Powell River have become synonymous with a paper mill even while the City has branded the words. As a result, the Regional District is challenged with differentiation. The focus of the matter is that we have no true identity or distinction. This is evident both locally (on two fronts) and beyond our borders.

With some of our constituents the name conjures up an “us vs them” atmosphere, especially on our local islands. It also confuses the general public when seeking services. They call us when in fact they should be calling the City and vice versa. As well, we have noted in the past that a federal grant application failed with the remark by our member of parliament that a lot of money had “already been given to Powell River.” On occasion provincial ministries have made similar distinguishing remarks. Such remarks, given casually, merely confirmed what was already perceived: Powell River is the municipality. An honest question is, ‘what significance or relation does “the” Powell River have in connection to Texada Island, Saltery Bay, or Toba Inlet?’ Moreover, the treaty status of the Tla’amin Nation, and the Truth and Reconciliation process, presents us with an opportunity to consider a name change grounded in our shared community.

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the incorporation of this Regional District and the first anniversary of the Tla’amin Nation self-government. These events provide for an excellent opportunity to establish our inter-governmental relationship on a solid footing of respect and mutual interest. With this in mind, a while ago Chair Patrick Brabazon approached Hegus Clint Williams to discuss the future. Over some time they discussed a name change that would offer a more regional inclusiveness. Chair Brabazon suggested a Tla’amin name if one could be offered that met this theme. Hegus Williams took the idea to some Elders who in turn took it to the language group working to preserve the Tla’amin language. Out of these discussions the word qathet was proposed with its English translation of “working together.”

At the very beginning of Chair Brabazon’s discussions with Hegus Williams it was accepted [by both of them] that a Tla’amin name must be easily pronounceable by non-Tla’amin speakers. While the “qa” combination is not native to English, neither is it unknown. Our language has imported it from Arabic and the accepted pronunciation of Qatar [ka’tar] closely matches the “kah” sound as spoken by a Tla’amin Elder. This is also true for the capital of Nunavut, Iqaluit, (ih-KAL-oo-it). Thus the pronunciation of qathet as “KA’thet.” Since Tla’amin orthography uses only lower case letters the name would be spelled as qathet Regional District.

Section 41(4)(b) of the Local government Act is the authority governing a change of name for regional districts. Now that the Regional Board has approved proceeding with a name change, the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development provided the Regional District with an outline of the steps required prior to requesting a change of name from the Province.

In summary, the Province would be expecting to see:

  • Rationale as to why the change is requested,
  • Preferred timeline for the change,
  • Consultation with First Nations and municipality,
  • Record of public consultation and synopsis of feedback, if any.

Possible responses to the expectations are as follows:

  • Rationale: the achievement of Tla’amin self-government, together with the great expanse of the jurisdiction extending from Toba Inlet to Jervis Inlet and across to Lasqueti Island suggests that the name Powell River fails as an identifier of not only where we are, but who we are. The new relationship with the Tla’amin Nation would be greatly enhanced by sharing a cultural link that would not only be inclusive but would foster a new sense of who we are and where we are: a distinct identity.
  • Timeline: the Regional District is hoping for completion and an amended letters patent in hand by December 19th
  • Consultation: Tla’amin Nation has offered to share the name; the support of the City of Powell River and our Electoral Areas would be sought.
  • Public Consultation: Section 94 of the Community Charter provides the guidelines for public notices, etc.

With the Regional District’s half-century approaching and a new Tla’amin relationship in the offing this is the moment for a bold statement. The Powell River Regional Board has endorsed moving forward with the public engagement required to change the name of the Powell River Regional District to:




The Powell River Regional District is organizing public engagement sessions. Further information on these sessions will be published in local editions of community newspapers. Please keep an eye out for information on where these sessions will be held.

The Regional District welcomes your opinion on whether you support or oppose this name change, please forward your comments to our office at administration@powellriverrd.bc.ca  indicating the words “Name Change” in the subject line.