Sockeye salmon swim in the Adams River towards their spawning grounds in Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park on Oct. 12, 2014. The province is planning to re-name the park to Tsútswecw Park, which is stated to mean ‘many fish’ in the Secwepemc language. However, the correct spelling of the word is actually Suswéwll. (File photo)

Sockeye salmon swim in the Adams River towards their spawning grounds in Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park on Oct. 12, 2014. The province is planning to re-name the park to Tsútswecw Park, which is stated to mean ‘many fish’ in the Secwepemc language. However, the correct spelling of the word is actually Suswéwll. (File photo)

Province’s renaming of B.C. park in Secwepemc gets lost in translation

The correct Secwepemc word for ‘many fish’ is Suswéwll, not Tsútswecw

It appears a plan to re-name Roderick Haig Brown Provincial Park to recognize the area’s First Nations’ heritage was lost in translation.

Earlier in the week, the B.C. Government announced a name change is in the works for three B.C. Parks to better reflect their cultural significance to First Nations communities.

Among them is Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park in the Shuswap. It was announced the park would be renamed Tsútswecw Park, which the government press release stated meant ‘many fish’ in the Secwepemc language.

It seems, however, that the proper spelling for the Secwepemc word for ‘many fish’ was somehow misinterpreted.

The correct spelling for the Secwepemc word meaning ‘many fishes’ is actually Suswéwll.

Related: Plans to change park’s name pleases family

As Kathryn Michel, language programs coordinator at Chief Atahm School near Chase, explains, the province chose the right word to reflect the area, but somehow ended up with incorrect spelling.

“A friend of mine had said what they had chosen and spelled it out and so I’m going, ‘they chose the name Tsútswecw? That’s confusing because that means many creeks,’’” Michel says.

“Then on the radio I heard the CBC announcer say that it meant many fish… at the very end I think she must have had a phonetic pronunciation and I heard her say Suswéwll and then I thought that makes sense, because Suswéwll means many fish. It’s basically just a spelling error, that’s what I’m bringing to everybody’s attention.”

She adds, “Suswéwll is a perfect name because it means many fish, but Tsútswecw means many creeks.”

When the Observer contacted the province about the name confusion, they said the government would be looking into the situation. They have not yet commented on whether the name will be changed or whether signage for the new park has already been produced.

Michel feels this is an easily forgiven typographical error on the part of the B.C. government, considering how recently the Secwepemc language has evolved into a written form and that few places are actively studying and teaching the language.

“It’s an honest mistake to make because, besides our school, there is not a lot of people that are actively learning to read and write the language,” she says. “That’s all I was bringing to everyone’s attention, just for there to be a change in the spelling so that it is correct.”

She does note that increased public involvement in the renaming process could have helped avoid this spelling error.

“They probably would have to have a bit of a larger discussion and maybe even a meeting on it,” she suggests. “I can understand why you would want to protect the process in some ways, but I think if they actually made it a little bit more transparent about how the process of naming is happening we probably could have weighed in a little bit sooner on this.”

Related: Plans to rename Roderick Haig-Brown Park proceed

Michel also believes the correct spelling is likely more accessible to others who don’t know the Secwepemc language, as the written word for Suswéwll is easier to understand how to pronounce.

The word Tsútswecw is pronounced ‘soot swec,’ and Michel suggests the ‘ts’ pronunciation is confusing to those unfamiliar with the language, while the word Suswéwll is pronounced more or less how it looks, ‘soo shwell.’

The name Suswéwll, or ‘many fish,’ reflects the abundance of resources in the Shuswap, which gives it great importance to the First Nations communities that call it home.

“My father always called it the bread basket of our people,” Michel explains. “Adams Lake had everything for us, it had so many species of fish and wildlife, and that’s where our traditional territories are.”

To her, the move on behalf of the B.C. government to better reflect the roots of a First Nations culture that still thrives here today is an honourable one. She would just appreciate a simple spelling correction.

“I’m really very passionate about our language and our culture, it’s what I have devoted my life to,” she says. “I think having the prominence of actually having a name in our language is kind of just honoring our existence and also of sort of our presence in the whole area.”


 

@Jodi_Brak117
jodi.brak@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Marine biologist Rick Harbo pulls a lid from the Ladysmith harbour, which he uses to monitor the presence of native and non-native species in the Ladysmith harbour. (Cole Schisler photo)
Unidentified sponge may be the latest marine species invading Ladysmith Harbour

Marine biologist finding dozens of alien species in warm-water harbour, none of them threatening

More and more graffiti has appeared in Ladysmith’s downtown core during the pandemic. (Cole Schisler photo)
Council creates rebate program to encourage graffiti clean up

Property owners can receive up to $50 to help fund graffiti removal

Rick Ruppenthal of Saltair will host a 12-hour talk-a-thon Friday, June 18 over Facebook live. (Photo submitted)
Talk-a-thon to focus on men’s mental health issues

Saltair man spearheading a campaign to generate more conversation during fundraiser

(File photo)
Poverty reduction survey identifies 10 poverty themes

Poverty reduction plan will be finalized in July 2021

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Two ambulances and a medevac helicopter are on scene at Taylor River Flats rest area on Highway 4 due to a serious motor vehicle incident. (PHOTO COURTESY MAGGIE BROWN)
Highway 4 reopens between Port Alberni and Tofino

Multi-vehicle accident temporarily closed highway in both directions

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Most Read