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Province considers changing name of creek in Youbou

Fears are that name Coonskin Creek could be offensive
The province is considering removing the name of Coonskin Creek, which runs into Cowichan Lake through Youbou, because it may be considered offensive. (Citizen file photo)

The province is looking for feedback on removing the controversial name of a creek in the Youbou area.

The BC Geographical Names Office has sent a letter to the Cowichan Valley Regional District and local First Nations asking their opinions on eliminating the name of Coonskin Creek, which flows through Youbou into Cowichan Lake.

“Consideration to rescind this official name is based on the offensive nature of the language in the name,” said the BCGNO’s Trent Thomas in the letter, which is on the CVRD’s regular board meeting agenda on Jan. 24.

“The BCGNO is aware of the potential harms arising from derogatory language in geographical names and would like to determine if rescinding this name is supported by local communities and organizations, or if there were any reasons that it might be unfavourable.”


Coon is a shorter version of raccoon for many, but it’s also a racial slur, used pejoratively to refer to dark-skinned people.

The letter to the CVRD said Coonskin Creek became the official name of the creek in 1952, but the significance or origin of the name was not included in the submission of the name to the province’s Water Licence Branch at the time.

Thomas went on the say that if the name of the creek is rescinded, the online name records would be maintained with the history of the name having once been official, but the name Coonskin Creek would no longer be labelled on provincial maps and charts, or distributed as an official place name in B.C.

“Until a broadly supported naming proposal is brought forward and officially adopted in accordance with the BC Geographical Naming Policy and Procedures, this place would not have an official name, and references to this feature would be by GPS coordinates, or in relation to nearby named features,” he said.

Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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