Momentum is building to properly name a prominent landmark on a mountain in the Alberta Rockies, shown near Canmore, Alta., on Thursday, Sept.3, 2020, because its commonly used nickname is racist and misogynistic. The feature, which has been known since the 1920s as Squaw’s Tit, is located near the summit on Mount Charles Stewart and can be seen from the mountain town of Canmore. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Momentum is building to properly name a prominent landmark on a mountain in the Alberta Rockies, shown near Canmore, Alta., on Thursday, Sept.3, 2020, because its commonly used nickname is racist and misogynistic. The feature, which has been known since the 1920s as Squaw’s Tit, is located near the summit on Mount Charles Stewart and can be seen from the mountain town of Canmore. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Lawyers hope to erase racist and misogynistic nickname of Alberta mountain landmark

There have been two attempts to officially name the landmark, but both have been rejected

Momentum is building to properly name a prominent landmark on a mountain in the Alberta Rockies because its commonly used nickname is racist and misogynistic.

The feature, which has been known since the 1920s as Squaw’s Tit, is located near the summit on Mount Charles Stewart and can be seen from the mountain town of Canmore.

Canmore lawyer Jude Daniels has been working since 2014 to find a formal name for the landmark. Natasha Egan, also a lawyer, joined her this spring.

“(We) are just disgusted by the name,” Egan said in an interview from Calgary. “Colloquially, people call it The Tit.

“So the racism was dropped, but the misogyny remains.”

The word “squaw” came from the Algonquin language and once simply meant woman, but the word has become a term to disparage Indigenous women.

Egan said she and Daniels, who is Metis and works with Aboriginal communities, have been speaking to the province and the Stoney Nakoda Nation to come up with a traditional Indigenous name.

They would like to propose a name that honours missing and murdered Indigenous women, she said.

There have been two recent attempts to officially name the landmark, but the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation board rejected both.

Ron Kelland, a historical places research officer and geographical program co-ordinator with Alberta Culture, said the first suggestion used the second half of the current name.

“For obvious reasons, the board did not find that acceptable,” he said.

Another proposal suggested the spot be called Mother’s Mountain, but Kelland said that was also rejected because the board wanted to pursue a traditional or Indigenous name.

“We have been engaging with the Indigenous communities of Treaty 7,” he said. “Some of the communities were actively engaged and talking to their elders and then the whole COVID thing happened.”

No one from Stoney Nakoda could be reached for comment.

The derogatory nickname is used in several hiking and climbing guides, on Google maps and on many trail websites — although Egan said it’s been changed on some. She and Daniels have been waiting for a new name before addressing the issue with Google.

In an email, Google said any local authority can request a name change or removal.

The two women have recently received support from the Town of Canmore.

“The name which is commonly used … has certainly been the name that people have used since I moved to Canmore in the mid-70s,” Mayor John Borrowman said at a recent council meeting. “It’s clear and evident that the name is both racist and misogynistic.”

ALSO READ: Sites to be commemorated: Residential schools recognized as ‘historic event’

Several other council members spoke in favour of giving the landmark an official name.

“I have two daughters and it has come to their attention as children what the name of that little nub is on that little mountain,” said Coun. Joanna McCallum. “It was a sad, disgusting and horrific day when I had to explain to them what it is known as and that there is no other name for it.”

Borrowman added he finds it surprising the name has never been addressed.

“If the Stoneys have no traditional name or no historical connection to that peak, it still needs to have a new name brought to it,” he said.

Egan hopes to get similar endorsement from the Municipal District of Bighorn, where the mountain is located.

Reeve Dene Cooper said he recently met with Daniels and expects to have a discussion with the district’s council in coming weeks.

“It needs a formal name selected on the basis that all other names are selected,” Cooper said in an interview. ”We value our relationship with our First Nation neighbours and we believe respect is an action word.”

Egan said the push for an official name has taken on an even stronger meaning with ongoing protests over Black and Indigenous rights across the United States and Canada.

“There’s been an awakening in our country and south of us,” she said. “We have a real opportunity.

“It may be symbolic … but it’s important. Words hurt. Words matter.”

Kelland said there’s a coulee in the south that was renamed Women’s Coulee a few years ago. There’s also a mountain in Banff National Park named Stoney Squaw Mountain, which is being considered for a name change.

In the United States, California’s popular Squaw Valley Ski Resort announced last month that it will change its name because the word is derogatory. The site was the location of the 1960 Winter Olympics.

— With files from The Associated Press

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Indigenousracism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The RCMP are reminding drivers to find alternative ways home if they have consumed anything that impairs their ability to drive. (Black Press file photo)
Impaired Ladysmith driver flees road check twice on the same night

The officer issued the driver numerous violation tickets, and a four-month driving suspension

Duck Paterson. (File photo)
Paterson’s Perspective: Maybe we’re not so different from the Americans

Columnist Duck Paterson shares his views on civil discourse in Canada and America

Rod Alsop and the LSS band had a great day holding class outdoors at Transfer Beach. (Cole Schisler photo)
Ladysmith Secondary School band takes class outside to mark the end of academic quarter

The band took advantage of a sunny January day to play outside

Jessica Lowry created a series of videos to engage Ladysmith Intermediate School students in mindfulness. (Submitted photo)
Ladysmith Intermediate teams up with local artist to introduce students to mindfulness

Ladysmith artist Jessica Lowry created a series of 36 videos to help students practice mindfulness

Luke Marston works on the seawolf mask for Canucks goalie Braden Holtby. (Mike Wavrecan photo)
Stz’uminus artist Luke Marston designs new mask for Canucks goalie

The mask features artwork inspired by the Coast Salish legend of the sea wolf

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Seven streets in downtown Duncan, including Station Street, will soon have new native names added to their signage. (Submitted graphic)
New Duncan street signs will be in English and Hul’q’umi’num

Seven streets to get additional names in First Nations language

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

Metchosin Coun. Kyara Kahakauwila is stepping down as deputy mayor following controversy over her decision to travel to Mexico in December. (Black Press Media file photo)
Councillor steps down as deputy mayor of Metchosin after controversial trip to Mexico

Mayor hopeful mediation will help council get back to the business of community

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
One in five tests in Fernie area coming back positive: doctor

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
From the “You can’t make this stuff up” file – stories from the BC CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

Inspection of bridge crossing on a B.C. forest service road. (B.C. Forest Practices Board)
B.C. falling behind in maintenance of forest service roads

Auditor finds nearly half of bridges overdue for repair

Most Read