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Progress on Changing Names of Bow Valley Peaks

Lawyers and officials are working together to rename racist and offensive peak names in the Canadian Rockies

There’s progress being made in the effort to change the names of three Bow Valley peaks thanks to the hard work of Jude Daniels. While many mountains in Canada hold colonial titles, a number in the area around Banff and Canmore have racist names.

Daniels is a member of the Law Society of Alberta, the Indigenous Bar Association and the Métis Nation of Alberta, and is on the board of directors for Spirit North. She’s worked in the oil and gas sector as a senior legal counsel and senior Aboriginal Relations advisor for over 20 years. She’s written Métis History and Experience and Residential Schools in Canada and co-authored Métis Memories of Residential School.

“I am an Indigenous woman living in Canmore and that peak is just next to my house in Eagle Terrace,” Daniels told me at the end of June in reference to a peak referred to with an offensive term, despite the peak having the official (still colonial) name of Princess Stephanie’s Mountain.

“I see that mountain most days when I return home. And each time it feels like a knife just stabbed my stomach. Just imagine what it feels like to know that there are people that view you with utter contempt and despise you solely because you are an Indigenous woman.” Daniels has reached out to people in power for years trying to get the name of that peak changed.

Earlier this week, Daniels me with Bill Snow from the Stoney Nation, who advised that he would like to file three applications for changing the name of two mountains in Banff (Tunnel and Stoney Squaw) and also a third application for a formal name for that Canmore peak.

“He will be consulting with the elders from the three bands within the Stoney Nation this summer to determine if there is already a common traditional Stoney nation for the Canmore peak,” said Daniels.

“If not, the elders may be interested in developing a Stoney name. In any event, hopefully Bill will be in a position to obtain a band council resolution from the Stoney Tribal Council in early fall, 2020 in support of the three applications.”

Daniels will be working be working with Tasha Egan, another Canmore lawyer, to develop an online petition once they are ready to file the application. “Additionally, Mayor Borrowman has emailed his support and I will be meeting with him to discuss how the town of Canmore can best support this initiative,” said Daniels.

Changing racist mountain names is not new in the Bow Valley, Ha Ling Peak was the official name given to one of Canmore’s most iconic summits in 1997 after the its previous name was viewed as derogatory.

Stoney Squaw in Banff with Cascade (Minihapa) behind