One of the meeting rooms at the new James Bay library branch will be named in honour of Songhees elder Dr. Elmer George, who translated the Douglas Treaties into various First Nations languages. Courtesy Royal Roads University

Victoria honours local First Nations in naming new libary branch

sxʷeŋ’xʷəŋ taŋ’exw James Bay Branch a nod to Lekwungen name for area

The new branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library in James Bay officially has a name, thanks to the Name That Library campaign.

The sxʷeŋ’xʷəŋ taŋ’exw James Bay Branch will open in early spring. Pronounced s-hweng hw-ung tongue-oo-hw, it is the Lekwungen name for James Bay and was chosen after 157 of the 623 name submissions showed support for a First Nations name.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps expressed appreciation for the community’s participation in the campaign, saying it made for a tough decision by city council.

“With the City’s ongoing work towards reconciliation, and the library being situated on the traditional lands of the Lekwungen people, council felt it was most fitting to name the new branch the Lekwungen name for this area,” Helps said. The City consulted with the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations before making it official.

Two distinguished citizens, their names put forward for consideration by the two First Nations and the BC Black History Awareness Society, respectively, were selected for two community rooms at the library.

The Dr. Elmer “Seniemten” George M.S.M. Community Room will be named for the Songhees elder whose work translating the Douglas Treaties of the mid-1850s into First Nation languages saw him awarded the Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General of Canada.

“I think sometimes people wait for someone to pass away first before they dedicate a building,” said Chief Andy Thomas of the Esquimalt Nation. “Doing this while Elmer is still alive is a sign of respect and acknowledges his work keeping our language alive.”

And the Mifflin Wistar Gibbs Study Room honours the contributions of the James Bay resident and merchant who, upon becoming the first black person elected to public office in B.C., served as a Victoria city councillor from 1866-69.

Of the GVPL’s 11 branches, four have commemorative names and seven reflect geographic locations. The new branch will be the second in Victoria and the 12th in the Greater Victoria Public Library system.

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

Greater Victoria Public Library

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

Just Posted

Architect plans to revitalize Victoria ‘gateways,’ including Wellburns building

Wood-construction apartments planned for Scott, Wellburn’s buildings

Police watchdog reviewing Victoria police-involved crash

VicPD officer collided with another car in downtown intersection

Arrest made after hydraulic rescue pump stolen from temporary Saanich fire hall

VicPD K-9 unit called in to help locate suspect, stolen equipment

CRD explores option to use Oak Bay Lodge for people who are homeless

Motion asks staff to work with BC Housing, Island Health on possibilities

Horgan says B.C. restart making gains as more people come out of their homes

B.C. announced the easing of more restrictions on businesses, recreation and travel last month

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 7

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Would you get a vaccine for COVID-19 when it is available?

With the number of positive COVID-19 tests skyrocketing across much of the… Continue reading

Comox Valley RCMP looking for missing woman

Ami Guthrie was last seen in Courtenay in early July

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Lower Mainland YouTubers claim to be Kelowna display toilet ‘poopers’

RCMP can not speak to legitimacy of video, will be investigating

Haida matriarchs occupy ancient villages as fishing lodges reopen to visitors

‘Daughters of the rivers’ say occupation follows two fishing lodges reopening without Haida consent

Most Read