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Tla’amin Nation Statement on Possible Referendum or Opinion Poll

February 16, 2024

The Tla’amin Nation remains grateful for the strong community support to remove the harmful name “Powell” from the community. The Nation doesn’t support opinion polls or referenda because the human rights of a minority should not be decided by a majority. 

Put another way, should individuals who are for the most part unaffected by, or have materially benefited from, the legacy of Powell determine if his actions caused harm to Indigenous people?

When Powell River was named, Tla’amin people couldn’t vote and were considered wards of the state. For generations the Nation has lived with decisions made about us, without us. To engage an opinion poll fundamentally questions the path of reconciliation and would create more division regardless of the outcome of that poll. 

The Joint Working Group Report recommendation 11 says that opinion polls or referendum should only be considered as an action of last resort to be contemplated only after the other 10 recommendations have been implemented.

Taken together, the other 10 recommendations provide a clear and cooperative path forward – including striking a reconciliation committee and delegating staff to implement these vital and constructive steps to reconciliation.  Jumping to recommendation 11 without addressing the other 10 recommendations is sure to result in an uninformed and negative process that will harm relationships in our community. 

There is no legal requirement for an opinion poll or referendum, and we urge City Council and city residents to consider a less divisive process and make serious progress on the name change.

media@tn-bc.ca