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 Thornhill Volunteer Fire Department responded to an engine Dec. 3 on Highway 16, using a compressed air and foam solution to extinguish the flames. (Submitted Photo/Krista Bowman)
Semi truck engine catches fire in Thornhill

Firefighters used a compressed air and foam solution to put out the fire

A volunteer committee is urging the provincial government to complete grizzly habitat mapping. (Ivan Hardwick photo)
Volunteer committee urges province to complete grizzly habitat mapping

Committee says only 18 of 37 watersheds have been mapped, province has spent $500,000 so far

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

Terrace RCMP arrested an impaired driver and found illicit drugs, weapons and stolen property in the vehicle on Nov. 28, 2020. (File Photo)
Terrace RCMP arrest impaired driver in possession of weapons

Weapons, illicit drugs, stolen property found in vehicle

A COVID-19 exposure has been recorded at Centennial Christian School in Terrace. The exposure occurred between Nov. 23 and Nov. 26, 2020. (Centennial Christian School Facebook photo)
COVID-19 exposure recorded at Centennial Christian School in Terrace

It’s the first known school exposure in Terrace

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

(Needpix.com)
Pandemic has ‘exacerbated’ concerns for B.C. children and youth with special needs: report

Pandemic worsened an already patchwork system, representative says

Most Read