The Nova Scotia government has renamed Cape Negro in Shelburne County Eel Bay, although a local official says people who actually live in the community haven’t come up with the name.
“The name was derogatory, so there’s no conflict there,” Barrington Parish deputy director Jody Crook said in an interview with CBC on Thursday. “…the [renaming] The process was a bit flawed.”
The new name was chosen after community meetings and five years after a man from Mahone Bay, NS asked the province to change the name.
Crook said the renaming process was disorganized and it was difficult to strike a balance between residents’ satisfaction and “the province and stakeholders”.
In a letter to the overseer in February this year, a provincial official said consultations with residents had begun in the summer of 2021 to change four local names that are harming the Nova Scotian African community.
“A series of community meetings took place between August and October, resulting in a short list of possible replacement names for the community. On November 8, residents voted from the short list of names and the result was a majority vote in favor of Eel Bay,” the letter reads.
Crook said the residents’ names wanted were not shortlisted.
“Outside interest groups were brought in to pick and choose some of the names, and the community group itself did not have the opportunity to choose what they felt was the right name for the community. Unfortunately, that left a bad taste in her mouth,” Crook said.
The letter said “concerns were raised” about the renaming consultation process. The province said it was “conducting a full review to redefine the process for place names that cause harm to reflect democratic and inclusive principles while respecting community decision-making.”
The province also wants to meet with community residents for input and feedback.
There are three other communities in Shelburne County that will be renamed: Cape Negro Island, Negro Harbor, and Squaw Island.
The province will begin the renaming process for these areas once lobster season is over “to ensure affected community residents have an opportunity to participate.”
For more stories about Black Canadians’ experiences—from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community—see Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
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