Saturday, February 24, 2024

First Nation calls on government to recognize Indigenous name of popular Tofino beach


Mackenzie Beach is a popular destination for Tofino locals and thousands of tourists every year.

The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation is calling on the government to recognize that this beach’s name was whitewashed as part of the colonial establishment in Tofino. 

They are asking that, in the name of reconciliation, the name of the beach be chosen by the Indigenous Peoples who have been stewards of the beach in question for time immemorial. 

The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation wishes for the beach to be named ‘tinwis.’ Their language is quite literal when spoken, so they wish the name of the beach to honour that. ‘Tin’ means calm in the Tla-o-qui-aht language and ‘wis’ means beach.

According to the book Tofino and Clayoquot Sound by local authors Ian Kennedy and Margaret Horsfield, Mackenzie Beach was named for First World War Veteran and eventual lighthouse keeper, Donald Mackenzie. 

The lighthouse he tended was located on nearby Lennard Island. He used his earnings to eventually buy a chunk of land on Mackenzie Beach. 

A petition has been started to try and sway the Province to change the name of the beach. 

“For thousands of years tinwis was known as tinwis but at the turn of the century colonizers renamed it to Mackenzie Beach,” wrote Rachel Nickerson in the petition.  

“Why deprive Tla-o-qui-aht of their traditional names when these names are part of their culture? A society striped of its culture can become lifeless and its people drained of motivation or hope for the future.”

As a sign of gratitude, the Tin Wis Resort says they will enter everyone who signs the petition by November 15th, into a contest to win a two-night stay at the beachside resort. 

“Leave things better than they are — it’s called regenerative tourism and this petition is your chance to bring light to Tla-o-qui-aht people,” Nickerson added. 

Victoria Buzz reached out to the District of Tofino to inquire on their stance regarding the name change, but have not received a response in time for this article to be published. 

Curtis Blandy

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