At a board of directors meeting on 9 February 2016 it was agreed that WRWEO would approach the Mi’kmaw Community to seek direction on the renaming of the second loop of The Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail. The loop was formerly called “Indian Hill” and directors at WRWEO believe that the term “Indian” is considered by many to be a derogatory, archaic, and offensive word. On 23 July 2016, the chair of WRWEO sent an email to Mike Lancaster, Wilderness Steward St. Margaret’s Bay Stewardship Association (SMBSA). The email read, in part:
“While the dedication of the Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail, written in 2005, acknowledged that the land had been preserved by the “First People”, none of the names used for the trail are Mi’kmaw names. In fact, the trail consists of four stacked loops which were all named more than a decade ago based on settler names used to describe the geography of the area. The names include: Pot Lake Loop, Indian Hill Loop, The Bluff Loop, and Hay Marsh Loop. The board of directors find the name of the second loop (Indian Hill) to be inappropriate given that the term “Indian” has long been considered a derogatory and offensive term. Because of this, WRWEO wishes to rename the second loop; however, we think it would be more appropriate to defer to members of the Mi’kmaw community for the selection of another name rather than continuing the pattern of settlers imposing names upon Mi’kmaw territory.
We hope that you may be able to introduce WRWEO to one or more members of the Mi’kmaw community who might be willing to advise WRWEO on how we might ask for the community’s guidance on the question of renaming the loop.”
Following receipt of this request, Mike Lancaster contacted two individuals of Mi’kmaq descent, Ellen Hunt, former chair of the Mi’kmaq Burial Ground Research and Restoration Association and regular collaborator with the Micou’s Island Stewardship program, and Roger Lewis, Curator of Ethnology at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History. Roger Lewis in turn communicated with Mi’kmaq of Sipekne’katik (Shubenacadie) District, noting that the territory of K’jipuktuk (Halifax) is within the traditional territory of the Sipekne’katik District. He also communicated with Dr. Bernie Francis, Mi’kmaq Linguist and co-author of The Language of This Land, Mi’kma’ki. The consensus was that the name should simply be changed from “Indian Hill” to “Mi’kmaw Hill”.
WRWEO has now renamed the second loop of The Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail the Mi’kmaw Hill Loop and will work to make the appropriate changes to all future maps and printed materials; however, this process will take some time. More immediately, WRWEO will undertake to update all electronic maps and will refer to the second loop as Mi’kmaw Hill in all social media posts and communications.
WRWEO would like to thank everyone who took time to consider this question and assist us in this matter. Particular thanks to Mike Lancaster, Ellen Hunt, Roger Lewis, Dr. Bernie Francis, and Mi’kmaq of Sipekne’katik District who gave their time and thought to this process.