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Majority of British Columbians want the province’s name to stay the same: poll

Survey suggests 60 per cent of B.C. residents disagree with changing the name
British Columbia’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

A majority of British Columbians are happy to remain just that, as a recent survey suggests four-in-five residents are happy with the province’s current name and flag.

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The online survey conducted by Research Co. polled 800 respondents and found 60 per cent disagree with changing the name, while 26 per cent agree and 14 per cent said they are undecided.

Perspectives were divided along generational lines with young people being the most likely to favour a change, with 37 per cent of people aged 18 to 34 in favour. Meanwhile, 30 per cent of respondents aged 35 to 54 were interested in seeing a change, followed by 14 per cent of those 55 and older.

Twenty-six per cent of residents polled in northern B.C. would like to see an acknowledgement to Indigenous Peoples in the province’s name. That’s compared to 16 per cent in all other regions.

The name “British Columbia” was chosen by Queen Victoria when the area became a British colony in 1858 to differentiate between the “American Columbia” which later became Oregon under the Oregon Treaty.

Although B.C. residents are resistant to the name change now, changing the names of areas in B.C. is not without precedent. In 2010, the Queen Charlotte Islands were renamed to Haida Gwaii to acknowledge the Haida people who have lived on Haida Gwaii for at least 6,000 years. Roughly 56 per cent of British Columbians support Haida Gwaii’s name change while only 20 per cent disagree.

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Research Co. president Mario Canseco said he plans to conduct the same survey on an annual basis to see how opinions on the name and flag of B.C. change over time.


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