Friday, June 14, 2024

BC Ferries renames one of its vessels as an act of reconciliation


Last week, BC Ferries unveiled an old vessel with a new name. 

The former ferry vessel Kuper was renamed by the company to Pune’luxutth in an effort to honour Indigenous Peoples who have acted as stewards of the waterways it travels since time immemorial. 

BC Ferries had an unveiling ceremony for the newly renamed vessel at Victoria’s Point Hope shipyard on Friday, December 1st.

The reason for the name change is that the former name of the ferry, Kuper, was and is still to this day, widely associated with the Kuper Island Indian Residential School. This was the site where from 1889 to 1975, Indigenous youth from the area were culturally assimilated and often faced abuse from those who took them from their families.

According to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR), of the 264 students who attended the school, 107 had died. In 1995, a former employee who worked at the school pled guilty to three charges of indecent assault and gross indecency.

“By renaming our vessel to a name that acknowledges and honors Indigenous heritage, we aim to foster mutually respectful relationships and move forward with the Indigenous communities we serve in a positive and meaningful way,” said Nicolas Jimenez, President and CEO of BC Ferries. 

“It demonstrates our commitment to acknowledging past wrongs and correcting hurtful historical naming where we can.”

The new name for the vessel, Pune’luxutth, is the Hul’qumi’num’ word for Penelakut, which is the Indigenous name for the island the Kuper Island Indian Residential School operated. 

“Penelakut Tribe is relieved to see the removal of the colonial name Kuper; furthermore, we are proud to see the use of our Hul’qumi’num language,” said Josh James, Councillor, Penelakut Tribe. 

“We look forward to continue building our relationship with BC Ferries.”

This newly renamed vessel will continue to service the Chemainus-Thetis-Penelakut route, as it has since 2007. 

The Pune’luxutth is scheduled to resume services later this week, on Saturday, December 9th, 2023.

Curtis Blandy

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