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  #21  
Old Posted Jul 28, 2020, 11:58 AM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Cornwallis's infamous 50 Guinea prize per Mic Mac scalp was an abject failure with officially ONE prize awarded. Cornwallis meanwhile lost close to 50 Settlers to horrific torturous death, dismemberment, Rape and slavery. But Shhh we are not allowed to talk about that.

Imagine the culture shock of a Cockney native of East London trying to defend themselves against Olympic caliber Warriors that knew the territory.
There were several raids by the Mi'kmaq people on the settlements in Nova Scotia and many of the settlers were violently murdered. It was a time of war, and Cornwallis's "genocide" was actually an act of war intending to protect the people for which he was responsible, but you will never hear that in public.

I'm sure that council is terrified about doing anything other than that which agrees with the narrative of the activists, lest they experience the wrath of those who are sure that the society which exists today is inherently evil and unfair. It's much easier for them to go with the flow than to make a stand for truth and balanced conversation.

That's not to say that we shouldn't push for reconciliation and improvement, as there have most assuredly been many wrongs done to indigenous society in the past couple of hundred years with many lives damaged or ruined. Many things need to be fixed, but with activism verging on extremism it's hard to know what actually needs to be fixed and how to fix it effectively.

IMHO, without context nobody will truly be able to appreciate where we have been and how far we've come, and without balanced conversation there will never be a true understanding by all parties involved, just simple demonization and implied guilt.

Where we go from here will certainly be a product of quality (or lack thereof) of conversations we are having today. At the moment it's hard to say whether there will ever be harmony for our entire society as we appear to be moving to a more divisive society rather than a connected and respectful one.
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  #22  
Old Posted Jul 28, 2020, 5:37 PM
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I wonder how vulnerable the city councilllors would be to cancel culture. I'd guess it depends on the councillor. Municipal politics are grounded somewhat in that you talk directly to your constituents, something we need more of in society, although it's a lot of work. You are not completely beholden to ads and social media where you can easily be vilified and must share a very simple message.

They also have the ability to punt on the issue by collecting more feedback. The committee was, I'm guessing, very palatable to council because they didn't want to have to make a call. I doubt Cornwallis is high up on the list of priorities for councillors one way or the other; it's not a hill they want to die on (for most, their political career is the top priority; there isn't necessarily anything wrong with that since the voters decide when and when not to give them the boot!).
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  #23  
Old Posted Jul 28, 2020, 6:42 PM
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I wonder how vulnerable the city councilllors would be to cancel culture. I'd guess it depends on the councillor. Municipal politics are grounded somewhat in that you talk directly to your constituents, something we need more of in society, although it's a lot of work. You are not completely beholden to ads and social media where you can easily be vilified and must share a very simple message.

They also have the ability to punt on the issue by collecting more feedback. The committee was, I'm guessing, very palatable to council because they didn't want to have to make a call. I doubt Cornwallis is high up on the list of priorities for councillors one way or the other; it's not a hill they want to die on (for most, their political career is the top priority; there isn't necessarily anything wrong with that since the voters decide when and when not to give them the boot!).
I think we've just seen that Council is very prone to cancel culture. Remember, the Cornwallis issue was sparked by a group of activist demonstrators threatening to damage/destroy the statue, and the Mayor and CAO (on a Saturday!) quickly moved to have it relocated out of sight, using the risk of rioting as their excuse. This council, being dominated by the "progressives", is very prone to such knee-jerk acquiescence, just as we have seen in places like Seattle, Portland and even NYC that have similar political majorities.

Certainly they saw the committee as a way for them to evade responsibility and perhaps save their skins, just as we saw them roll over to all of the recommendations made in the report with barely a whimper. But there is an election in just a few months, and if this is made into an issue, hopefully many of them will lose their jobs.
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  #24  
Old Posted Jul 28, 2020, 6:59 PM
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One thing I have noticed is the Cornwallis story tends to be retold in a simplistic way that elides many facts that don't fit the narrative. For example the raids conducted by the Mikmaq tend not to be mentioned nor do people tend to mention which specific bands the British fought against or how many scalps were collected (I don't know the answer to this, but in those days the terrain was vast and the reach of British authorities limited). When I've read about it (I have no particular skin in the game one way or the other) I find a lot of basic information that is surprising given the media coverage. France's role and the shift in control of territory from colonial French to British authorities isn't typically mentioned.

Africville is similar. There are many valid complaints you could make about Africville or the rehousing but there is a lot of confusion out there especially in other parts of Canada. Many people seem to think that Africville was demolished by anti-black racists out of malice, or that all black people in Halifax lived in Africville or were chased away in 1960 or so. None of that is true. Mulgrave Park was a progressive development for its era that some residents of Africville and activists wanted at the time. This is particularly worrisome since we can't learn from the past if we think anything that didn't go to plan in the progressive 1960's failed because of evil racists. Lots of well-intentioned plans fail because the outcome cannot be known ahead of time. And many politically-driven plans are messy, with compromises and a range of motivations and goals. People whose only tool for understanding history is to pigeonhole historical figures into Good and Evil are unable to understand anything.

I worry that we are seeing more and more aggressive activism on these issues, with partisans feeling they are on the side of "good" (e.g. purge Cornwallis) when they are actually promoting an oversimplified and divisive view of history. I do not believe that our only options are to either worship everything historical figures like Cornwallis did or take down the statues, and I resent how vandals forced the city's hand. The process of planning the city's monuments should be run by elected officials and the public, not a tiny group of activists.

Churchill is similar yet the opposition to him is even sillier since he was so accomplished. He held many views that are considered inappropriate today but recognizing his historical importance does not mean that we endorse all of his views. Churchill is particularly ironic since so many anti-Churchill folks rant about Nazis. I am waiting for Churchill to be called a Nazi.
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There were several raids by the Mi'kmaq people on the settlements in Nova Scotia and many of the settlers were violently murdered. It was a time of war, and Cornwallis's "genocide" was actually an act of war intending to protect the people for which he was responsible, but you will never hear that in public.

I'm sure that council is terrified about doing anything other than that which agrees with the narrative of the activists, lest they experience the wrath of those who are sure that the society which exists today is inherently evil and unfair. It's much easier for them to go with the flow than to make a stand for truth and balanced conversation.

That's not to say that we shouldn't push for reconciliation and improvement, as there have most assuredly been many wrongs done to indigenous society in the past couple of hundred years with many lives damaged or ruined. Many things need to be fixed, but with activism verging on extremism it's hard to know what actually needs to be fixed and how to fix it effectively.

IMHO, without context nobody will truly be able to appreciate where we have been and how far we've come, and without balanced conversation there will never be a true understanding by all parties involved, just simple demonization and implied guilt.

Where we go from here will certainly be a product of quality (or lack thereof) of conversations we are having today. At the moment it's hard to say whether there will ever be harmony for our entire society as we appear to be moving to a more divisive society rather than a connected and respectful one.
I think the issue people take with these sorts of arguments - "It was just a time of war" or "Both sides did stuff" - is that one side was basically an invading/occupying force and the other wasn't. People often joke about how "Everyone except the First Nations are all immigrants" as a kind of comeback against anti-immigration rhetoric. But in reality, immigration involves people relocating into a new territory and into an existing society with the consent of the current occupants, subjecting themselves to the existing laws and social establishment. People who don't meet one of these two prerequisites (consent/deferral to existing authority) are normally referred to as either illegal immigrants or as invaders. If a group of people unilaterally decides to move into a new region and sets up its own rules and claims its own territory while disregarding the authority of the current inhabitants thus leading to conflict and ultimately war, we don't normally "both sides" it.

With the case of Africville, yes there was a push by progressive activists in the 60s to relocate the residents to better housing because it was seen as a disgrace that people were living under those conditions. But at the same time, people were living under those conditions because of decisions of the city. For instance, they had no access to municipal services such as water and sanitation because the city refused to extend services to that community. They were living beside the municipal dump because the city chose to locate the dump there despite its effect on the nearby residents, etc. It's true that there was debate about the future of Africville including within the community itself and that the decision wasn't based on the city just trying to be mean. And yes it's also important to have a holistic view of history. But every aspect of the saga was influenced by racial bias so I don't know that people's impression is all that inaccurate.

I think nuance and complexity are very important if they're intended to help people have a more complete view of history and learn more accurate/complete lessons from it. But sometimes the call for nuance can be more about an attempt to muddy the waters and actually prevent clear lessons from being learned. It really depends on the situation.

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Originally Posted by someone123 View Post
I wonder how vulnerable the city councilllors would be to cancel culture. I'd guess it depends on the councillor. Municipal politics are grounded somewhat in that you talk directly to your constituents, something we need more of in society, although it's a lot of work. You are not completely beholden to ads and social media where you can easily be vilified and must share a very simple message.

They also have the ability to punt on the issue by collecting more feedback. The committee was, I'm guessing, very palatable to council because they didn't want to have to make a call. I doubt Cornwallis is high up on the list of priorities for councillors one way or the other; it's not a hill they want to die on (for most, their political career is the top priority; there isn't necessarily anything wrong with that since the voters decide when and when not to give them the boot!).
Cancel culture can be a big issue for someone who has one specific employer who has the power to arbitrarily drop you for reasons such as aversion to bad publicity or potential loss of customers and/or ad revenue. However, in the case of people condemning/campaigning against a politician hoping for them to lose re-election, I generally think of that as democracy rather than canceling. There have always been attack ads intended to vilify politicians.
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  #25  
Old Posted Jul 28, 2020, 8:28 PM
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I think the issue people take with these sorts of arguments - "It was just a time of war" or "Both sides did stuff" - is that one side was basically an invading/occupying force and the other wasn't. People often joke about how "Everyone except the First Nations are all immigrants" as a kind of comeback against anti-immigration rhetoric. But in reality, immigration involves people relocating into a new territory and into an existing society with the consent of the current occupants, subjecting themselves to the existing laws and social establishment. People who don't meet one of these two prerequisites (consent/deferral to existing authority) are normally referred to as either illegal immigrants or as invaders. If a group of people unilaterally decides to move into a new region and sets up its own rules and claims its own territory while disregarding the authority of the current inhabitants thus leading to conflict and ultimately war, we don't normally "both sides" it.
It is true that Britain ran a colonial empire and invaded many territories. The NS situation of around 1750 doesn't exactly fit the invasion scenario though. France administered this territory for over 100 years and then ceded it to Britain (Treaty of Utrecht). France and the Catholic church (who converted many Mi'kmaq) encouraged what Britain viewed as a rebellion. Britain already controlled Annapolis Royal before Halifax was founded. France tried to invade Annapolis Royal and Boston, gathering an armada in Halifax harbour only a few years before Halifax was founded.

More fundamentally though I just don't know how we should get from discussing details of history to threatening to destroy the Cornwallis statue. I do not think it is plausible today to argue that Cornwallis has a kind of fan base that the statue or street name contribute to and that any of this is materially harmful to anybody living in NS today.

I have no problem with a democratic debate about what to do with Cornwallis Park and I don't think the Cornwallis statue needs to remain there forever, although I tend to be opposed to the destruction of any historic works of art (and really we have no shortage of places to put statues but we DO have a dwindling amount of physical history and historical art in NS). I am not sure if it is possible to deal with the Cornwallis statue in a democratic way. We will see.

In practical terms I find it a bit weird that the city might make Cornwallis Park into a treaty-themed park while planning the new Friendship Centre at the other end of downtown.

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I think nuance and complexity are very important if they're intended to help people have a more complete view of history and learn more accurate/complete lessons from it. But sometimes the call for nuance can be more about an attempt to muddy the waters and actually prevent clear lessons from being learned. It really depends on the situation.
I agree with all of this although I think that today in NS the lack of nuance or rush to judgement is a bigger problem than subversive racist narratives promoted by muddying the waters.

I brought up Africville because it is actually still quite relevant today (unlike Cornwallis) and cannot be fully understood simply by saying that it was done by bad actors from start to finish. It is very challenging to know how to solve social problems after they have been started or when they have persisted for generations, and even well-meaning people and experts screw up all the time when trying to help.

There is no question that the lack of services in Africville and poor quality of life there had its roots in racism (going back at least to the 1910's when the city already was ignoring the area, and there is no doubt that there was a lot of racism back then). But a lot of planned housing programs didn't do so well either and I don't think we can say that those were rooted in a negative racist intent.

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Cancel culture can be a big issue for someone who has one specific employer who has the power to arbitrarily drop you for reasons such as aversion to bad publicity or potential loss of customers and/or ad revenue. However, in the case of people condemning/campaigning against a politician hoping for them to lose re-election, I generally think of that as democracy rather than canceling. There have always been attack ads intended to vilify politicians.
I am thinking more of Twitter "virality" and the like than traditional attack ads. The phenomenon of a rumour or meme getting shared over and over when it has little basis in fact, and snowballing to the point where setting the record straight is impossible.

Last edited by someone123; Jul 28, 2020 at 8:56 PM.
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  #26  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2020, 3:22 AM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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I think the issue people take with these sorts of arguments - "It was just a time of war" or "Both sides did stuff" - is that one side was basically an invading/occupying force and the other wasn't. People often joke about how "Everyone except the First Nations are all immigrants" as a kind of comeback against anti-immigration rhetoric. But in reality, immigration involves people relocating into a new territory and into an existing society with the consent of the current occupants, subjecting themselves to the existing laws and social establishment. People who don't meet one of these two prerequisites (consent/deferral to existing authority) are normally referred to as either illegal immigrants or as invaders. If a group of people unilaterally decides to move into a new region and sets up its own rules and claims its own territory while disregarding the authority of the current inhabitants thus leading to conflict and ultimately war, we don't normally "both sides" it.
I don't think it's that simple. As others have pointed out, the relationship of the Mi'kmaq people in the Nova Scotia situation was more complex than that. Yes I agree with you that the concept of invasion holds true here, but by the time the massacre and order for 'genocide' occurred in the 1749-51 timeframe, France had managed to have the Mi'kmaqs siding with them and carrying out their bidding against the English settlements. So invasion had already been a done deal - they were just choosing which invaders to fight for. This is why I consider it to be an act of war, not some overused vernacular as you appear to be suggesting.

Additionally, it is well understood that society of 270 years ago was quite different than today. Acts that would have been considered as typical back then would be completely unacceptable today (in Canada, anyhow), and therefore discussing them in the same context as if they happened 20 or 50 years ago really has no meaning.

Full disclosure is that I don't really give a damn about the statue of Cornwallis. It was there for my entire life up to a couple of years ago, and I've probably looked at it once or twice. If they want to take it out of there as a sign of goodwill, then so be it. I do, however, disagree with the way it was handled, as other posters have described. Nothing more to say about it, other than if it makes people feel better, then I'm all for it, but I would prefer it was done with less superlatives, and more historical fact.
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  #27  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2020, 4:18 AM
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Sounds like so far we're all in agreement. Not terribly pressing and shouldn't have been handled by vigilantism. However, I do think that without vigilantism it's unlikely there would have been much movement on the issue any time soon though, and those involved in the vigilantly actions were likely well aware of that.

I think there will always be disagreement when it comes to symbolism because it's very hard to quantify how much real world effect symbols have. Some would say that placing a particular piece of imagery literally on a pedestal at the centre of a public space helps define a society's values and greatly influences - consciously or otherwise - how its members think about themselves and the world. Others would say that it's mostly irrelevant and unnoticed pomp that serves merely as decor and that no one should pay it any mind because there are lots of actually important things to think about. I have to admit I'm unsure which side is more correct.
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  #28  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2020, 5:18 PM
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However, I do think that without vigilantism it's unlikely there would have been much movement on the issue any time soon though, and those involved in the vigilantly actions were likely well aware of that.
I agree. There are different ways to think about that situation though:

1) Maybe the cause is not a good one if people aren't taking it up. Maybe they disagree, maybe they don't care. Therefore it does not make sense as a democratic goal. Democracy involves compromise; sometimes you don't get your way.

2) Maybe the cause is good and people could get onboard but activists have not done enough work trying to convince voters and politicians.

3) Maybe the whole system is rotten and unresponsive. The cause is good but the only way to accomplish it is to go outside the system.

Municipal politics in Halifax are probably some of the most democratic and responsive around. It takes comparatively few votes to determine whether or not a councillor gets elected, they talk to their constituents, it's easy to vote or run, and there is tons of public consultation during the course of municipal decision making.

(3) and the "break a few eggs" mindset meanwhile was probably the biggest cause of human suffering in the 20th century. Not saying that the Cornwallis vandalism rises to that level but there's a long track record of people using the idea that they are fighting for good as justification for doing destructive things. And unfortunately it can be very hard for people to accept (1) or (2) when they are committed to a goal, so (3) can seem like an attractive path.
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  #29  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2020, 5:37 PM
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Excellent points, @someone123. We are unfortunately seeing this in droves with the riots/occupations in the USA right now although the motives of those using option 3 are in support of a cause (not anti-racism, but a socialist/Marxist state) that the majority do not support. However there seem to be enough mostly clueless people either devoted to tearing everything down or who are willing to act as paid agents to do so that some "progressive" municipal leaders have refused to stand up to them because they are using the BLM movement as a shield for their actual motives.
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  #30  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2020, 5:48 PM
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I agree. There are different ways to think about that situation though:

1) Maybe the cause is not a good one if people aren't taking it up. Maybe they disagree, maybe they don't care. Therefore it does not make sense as a democratic goal. Democracy involves compromise; sometimes you don't get your way.

2) Maybe the cause is good and people could get onboard but activists have not done enough work trying to convince voters and politicians.

3) Maybe the whole system is rotten and unresponsive. The cause is good but the only way to accomplish it is to go outside the system.

Municipal politics in Halifax are probably some of the most democratic and responsive around. It takes comparatively few votes to determine whether or not a councillor gets elected, they talk to their constituents, it's easy to vote or run, and there is tons of public consultation during the course of municipal decision making.

(3) and the "break a few eggs" mindset meanwhile was probably the biggest cause of human suffering in the 20th century. Not saying that the Cornwallis vandalism rises to that level but there's a long track record of people using the idea that they are fighting for good as justification for doing destructive things. And unfortunately it can be very hard for people to accept (1) or (2) when they are committed to a goal, so (3) can seem like an attractive path.
I think that when it comes to certain issues such as the fight for respect / rights / dignity / recognition etc. for minorities, people don't necessarily trust standard "democratic" processes which basically requires the mainstream public to care about something that comes across as being solely in someone else's interest. The idea is that democracy breaks down in such cases because democracy is basically tyranny of the majority to rule over the will of the minority which is a sort of necessary evil when the populace is basically a single united group that just happens to have different preferences or opinions, but unworkable when it comes to fundamentally separate identities. In those cases many people feel that it's necessary to force/demand the desired change because otherwise it will never happen or take an unreasonably long time. In other words, with option 3, there are certain scenarios in which civil disobedience and activism is a necessary part of change within any system including democracies.

While I accept that this idea is true in many cases, I agree that it's questionable whether or not the issue of such monuments is actually a fundamental issue of minority respect / rights / dignity / recognition. In this case I'm skeptical.
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  #31  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2020, 6:02 PM
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I am also skeptical that Cornwallis relates to minorities that are currently left out in the cold in Canadian political circles or are ignored by the media.

Part of what's happening in the Canadian political landscape right now is that we have a lot of powerful establishment figures who think they are part of some counterculture. Or just wish they were.
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  #32  
Old Posted Nov 16, 2020, 8:40 PM
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The latest case of politicians pandering on this issue is that Dartmouth's left-wing Coun. Sam Austin has requested a staff report on changing the names of every "Micmac" street or road in HRM to something more politically correct, along with renaming other civic points of interest such as lakes and parks bearing that evil word. When questioned online about the cost of such measures he replied it was just a matter of changing a few signs and maps, along with mail forwarding and, oh by the way, changing of addresses for the many residents who would suddenly be living on a new street.
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  #33  
Old Posted Nov 16, 2020, 10:27 PM
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The latest case of politicians pandering on this issue is that Dartmouth's left-wing Coun. Sam Austin has requested a staff report on changing the names of every "Micmac" street or road in HRM to something more politically correct, along with renaming other civic points of interest such as lakes and parks bearing that evil word. When questioned online about the cost of such measures he replied it was just a matter of changing a few signs and maps, along with mail forwarding and, oh by the way, changing of addresses for the many residents who would suddenly be living on a new street.
https://www.halifax.ca/sites/default...1117rc1151.pdf

New or corrected name is the request
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  #34  
Old Posted Nov 16, 2020, 10:36 PM
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  #35  
Old Posted Nov 16, 2020, 10:56 PM
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Meh, I wouldn’t characterize local events over the past couple of years as right or wrong, it’s the path our distance from the past and reflection over its events lead us. It’s extremely common in post-colonial countries; take Mexico in the 19th century. Following the revolution for independence monuments to the conquistadors were toppled in favour of a more local identity. Canadian independence came from dialogue, not struggle like 1821 Mexico. Therefore our post colonial identity is also born from dialogue and I think we are lucky for that. The spelling of an indigenous group doesn’t impact me at all, so if it’s respectful to do so why not?
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Old Posted Nov 16, 2020, 11:51 PM
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I don't really see an issue with this. If the intent of naming the street, building, etc. after anyone or thing is to pay homage or respect to them, then why not be accurate with the spelling? I typically politely correct someone if my name is written or pronounced incorrectly.
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Old Posted Nov 17, 2020, 12:17 AM
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I typically politely correct someone if my name is written or pronounced incorrectly.
To me the place renamings are neither here nor there (though I suppose maybe the people who live in these places and whose addresses would change should be consulted first and foremost) but this issue of saying names from other languages correctly isn't straightforward. Often sounds in one language don't exist in another and there is no way to spell the words accurately or for non-native speakers to pronounce them correctly.

If you look on Wikipedia you get "Miꞌkmaq (also Mi'gmaq, Micmac, Lnu, Miꞌkmaw or Miꞌgmaw; English: /ˈmɪɡmɑː/; Miꞌkmaq: [miːɡmaɣ])".

I wonder how Mi'kmaq is more correct, in English, than Micmac. Mi'kmaq would normally be pronounced "micmac" in English but most people pronounce it like "migmaw" (with the ' being decoration to English speakers). You could learn this separate pronunciation for Micmac too. Both are transliterations, the only thing possible when writing out these names for English speakers to read.

In St. Margaret's Bay there's a place called Boutilier's Point which people pronounce "boot-leer". Is this insulting to French speakers? Or is it just people creating their own convenient place names and pronunciations in their native language? The typical English speaker cannot pronounce Boutilier in a way that wouldn't sound off to a native French speaker, and those failing efforts would feel unnatural to the English speaker.

Last edited by someone123; Nov 17, 2020 at 12:28 AM.
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  #38  
Old Posted Nov 17, 2020, 12:23 PM
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Further to the post by @someone123 I get the impression that much of this is still very much being made up as we go along. Given there is not the same history of written language as exists for European language, many of the indigenous names and terms are still evolving based upon interpretation and research by those interested in such things. Regardless, though, many will prove to be a challenge to residents given the spelling and pronunciations are very different and not intuitive to English-speakers.
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