ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — The Newfoundland and Labrador government announced today it plans to change the name of Red Indian Lake to Beothuk Lake following a series of public consultations aimed at supporting reconciliation.
Premier Andrew Furey had announced in April that the lake's name would be changed to Wantaqo'ti Qospem, which means peaceful lake in the Mi'kmaq language.
But after local residents complained about a lack of consultation, the government dropped that idea and turned to the public for guidance.
One scholar noted that giving the lake a Mi'kmaq name would be "an insult" to the Beothuk people, who were among the island's original inhabitants and hunted on the lake's shores.
The new name was chosen after Indigenous leaders reviewed a list of suggested names.
On Wednesday, the Liberal government introduced legislation to make the change official, saying the new name would strengthen Indigenous histories, languages and cultures.
"The goal of the consultation process was to ensure that everyone who had a viewpoint on the name of Red Indian Lake had an opportunity to share their thoughts," Indigenous Affairs Minister Lisa Dempster said in a statement.
Dempster said the province's Indigenous leaders had made it clear the original name for the lake in central Newfoundland was unacceptable.
A series of public consultations was held in three small towns nearest to the lake, and the province set up an online portal for the public to submit suggestions.
The last Beothuk is believed to have died in 1829.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 27, 2021.
The Canadian Press