New Brunswick government has 'no intention' of changing Saint John River name

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FREDERICTON — The New Brunswick government says it does not intend to change the name of the Saint John River back to its original Indigenous name.

At a Wednesday legislature committee meeting, Green Leader David Coon asked Aboriginal Affairs Minister Arlene Dunn about the status of a 2021 request from the Wolastoqey Nation to restore the name Wolastoq to the river.

Dunn replied that the river crosses international boundaries, complicating the matter, and the government has "no intention" of making the change.

Chief Allan Polchies Jr. of St. Mary’s First Nation issued a statement saying that if the province is serious about reconciliation, it needs to change the river back to "its rightful name."

The province's systemic racism commissioner recommended in December that the river be renamed the Wolastoq Saint John River.

Wolastoq, which means "the beautiful river" in the Maliseet language, was also the name used when the cultural landscape along the 700-kilometre river was designated a national historic site in 2011.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 27, 2023.

The Canadian Press