I Do Not Think That Nigger Is Just Another Name Like Ottawa, Bouchette, Or Maniwaki, Claire Hamel


Bouchette’s Mayor Réjean Major in my opinion is a great example of a local government leader in the province of Quebec failing to act in a responsible manner when confronted with the fact that officially named land marks within their jurisdictions are insulting, offensive, highly prejudice, bigoted forms of racism directed at Black people.   When faced with the obvious fact that a local site of public interest in his municipality has an official name that is insulting to Black people as well as being  racist Mayor Réjean Major, decided to protect his municipality’s racist culture and heritage at the expense of black people’s feelings.  Instead of leading the charge to remove an obvious racist moniker, Bouchette’s Mayor Réjean Major chose to become part of the racism by telling Radio-Canada that he has no intention of asking the commission to change the name given to a stretch of rapids on the on Gatineau River named (Nigger Rapids). With this type of mind-set from its mayor, it becomes easy to understand why Claire Hamel  who lives near the rapids feels comfortable making this public statement, “Nobody talks about this, it’s the name, that’s it, like Bouchette, like Maniwaki, like Ottawa.” The sad part of this tale is that I truly believe that Claire Hamel thinks that naming that stretch of rapids Nigger Rapids presents no more of a  racial slur than if they had named those rapids the Claire Hamel Rapids, or  the Réjean Major Rapids. Could that be, because to her and Mayor Réjean Major that accurately describes and honors the memory of the person, or people that were found dead there, depending on whose version of the historical accounting you believe?  Wake up Claire Hamel and Mayor Réjean Major, Black people were never Niggers and certainly never enjoyed being called Niggers. Niggers only accurately describes Black people to ignorant and racist people who still feel that they are somehow better than Black people. Holding onto this part of your heritage and continuously referring to Black people as Niggers and officially naming sites of interest Nigger this or that, only serves to insult, humiliate and hurt Black people. In 2015 the fight to keep such a name only serves to remind Black people of how little has changed from those times long ago to right now when it comes to how Black People are viewed, not respected and not considered equal members of Quebec society in Quebec as equal members of Quebec society.

Why would any government commission officially recognise  the name of  Nigger Rapids in 1983?  Pierre LeBlanc, spokesman for the Quebec Toponymy Commission  said, “It (The name Nigger Rapids) was meant to describe the people who died.”  I say this type of response serves to prove what I said earlier, because  Mr. Le Blanc, cannot believe that in 1983 that it was not clear that  the name Nigger Rapids used for decades by the locals was racist and should have not been encouraged by recognizing it officially.  This type of defending the reason for the name by people like Mr. Leblanc  causes local residents like Pierre Cecire, to believe that they are right when they say things like “The rapids are historic there’s no need to change their name.” Mr. Cecire’s family have owned the land that backs onto the rapids for generations and has said, “People have come knocking at my door curious to see the rapids and one man even tried to rename them Eagle Rapids, but that didn’t fly.” “A long time ago, more than 100 years ago, a black man died in a log jam. He was dead in the water,” “It’s just a name. Yeah, it’s weird, bizarre, but I think because it’s historical it’s OK.”

The use of  a word such as Nigger was always meant and has always been considered to be a derogatory and,  demeaning way to describe Black people.  The word Nigger was and has always meant to show that White people were above  Black people, so I would ask why would any municipality fight for the use of it and even declare it a part of their culture and behave as if changing the offensive name would be forcing them to abandon a vital part of their  heritage and be somehow hurtful to Black people?   This train of thought is reinforced when highly educated people like  Dominique Marshall, a history professor at Carleton University make statements like, “There’s no simple answer for what to do with names such as Nigger Rapids, naming cities and places is a political thing.”  Marshall says, “Many factors have to be considered before a name should be changed.” “The history of names is very interesting because it tells us about the society of that time,” “If you change the name, you erase the fact people could say that in broad daylight back then. But if you carry on using it you might be condoning an inequality that has never been acceptable.”  Ms. Marshall, would not the original name along with the story of the original name and why it was changed, not satisfy the historical concerns?

After living in Montreal, Quebec for 60 years I am not still naive enough to be surprised, or shocked when it comes to the government of Quebec’s lack of sensitivity where Black people are concerned. At every turn the governments of Quebec, no matter what the political stripe on all levels are unable, or unwilling to take the concerns brought to them about  racism seriously.  In Quebec’s recent past  there are other well documented examples of Quebec’s unwillingness to change the indignities that it daily inflicts on its Black minority population with its lack of sensitivity where offensive and racially acknowledged practices are concerned.  In what is considered the greater Montreal area,  Black people have had to endure the humiliation of  knowing that their government has and continues to honor its White citizens who have been racist against its Black population by:

  1. Erecting statues of them, naming streets and metro stations after them right in the middle, or close to heavily populated Black areas of  its cities and refusing to change the names of those stations and relocate those statues when its insulted Black citizens complain of the being forced relive past pain, indignity and insult.   The Quebec government’s refusal to take seriously and rename the sites that it can and remove the offending statues for example sends a message to all non Black people of Quebec that undermining of the discrimination and enslavement of Black people in Quebec was and is okay.
  2. Refusing to ban the use of Black Face as an acceptable form entertainment, because of its obvious insulting, derogatory and racist depiction of the Black race. Instead choosing to suggest that Black face is a French Canadian heritage that needs to be preserved and that Black people residing in Quebec need to get a tougher skin.

I am disgusted to find out that in 2015 Quebec politicians are having a hard time  removing the word Nigger, or renaming sights whose official name contains the word. In Quebec it would seem that Mayors are incapable of figuring out on their own without petitions, or complaints that a name like Nigger River is offensive to Black people without a petition.

Places in Quebec where you can still find places officially named containing the word nigger in them are:

  1. Bouchette has its  (Nigger Rapids) no translation required
  2.  Grenville-sur-la-Rouge has its Nigger Eddy Premier, Deuxieme, Troisieme   (Nigger Eddy the 1st,2nd and 3rd)
  3. Saint-Armand has its Rocher Nigger (Nigger Rock)
  4. Hatley has its Nigger Riviere (Nigger River) now renamed Niger River
  5. Lac-Lenotre has its Lac du Negre  (Nigger Lake)
  6. Lac-Lenotre  has its Ruisseau du Negre  (Nigger Creek)
  7. Notre-Dame-du-Bon Conseil has its (Nigger River)
  8. Les Iles-de-la-Madeleine has its  Le Buttereau-du-Negre (Small Nigger Hill Overlooking The Water)
  9. Shawinigan has its Lac a Ti-Negre  (Lake of a 1000 Niggers)

 In a story taken from an article written online for The Ottawa Sun by Matt Day: Julie Letourneau, the commission’s communication adviser said, “The Quebec Toponymy Commission will present a report to its members in the fall to determine whether or not places like Nigger Rapids, a small stretch of the Gatineau River in the town of Bouchette, should remove the racial slur from their names.”  “There are 11 place names in Quebec that could be affected – six that use the word Nigger in English and five that use the French version of the word, negre.”

“To say we are changing them right now is going a little too far.” “It’s possible some could be changed and some could stay the same. There are a bunch of factors to consider.”  She said those factors include public consultations, limiting controversy and, in some cases, permissions from families. “All those places are official names in Quebec,” she said. “We respect the way it’s been used so far, but we’re looking at the importance and the heritage of it.”  There is no way that the Black people of Quebec will ever feel accepted and on equal ground with the White population of Quebec, as long as something that seems so easy and so right to do is met with the type of attitude from the very commission whose job it is to name these sites and rename them.

 That White governing officials along with their local White citizens continue to think that there is nothing wrong with sites of interest within the jurisdiction of their municipalities having the word Nigger in their official name, is just one more piece of evidence that proves that Quebec is a racist province clinging desperately to what its majority population believes is their right to protect and continue their racist ways. You can easily tell the racist White Quebeckers from those who are not, because the non racist is standing beside their minority citizens denouncing such official names and the racist ones continue to refer to racist behavior and customs as their culture and heritage.  To this end some Quebec municipalities have come up with some pretty interesting reasons as to why the names of these offensively named sites cannot be changed to something that really represents the Black people  who once lived amongst them, served them, died  and were buried in the area in a time gone by.

When public officials go as far from making sense as to suggest that they would be doing Black people a disservice by removing the racist official names and that somehow it could be forgotten how badly we have been treated in this province it only serves to show how out of touch they are with their own history and what is presently going on in Quebec as far as the lack of racial equality and lack of respect for minority rights. this is one of the major reasons why I feel that Quebec the province can never be allowed to become a country. What would happen to Black people and other minorities in an independent nation of Quebec country whose government and majority population  cannot recognise and figure out how to right this type of wrong? Quebec might be ready for independence and nationhood when it learns to  stand up and do everything possible to eradicate all forms of racial bigotry from every corner of this province; not because someone complained or launched an official complaint, but because it is and was the right thing to do. There are many ways to ensure that the history and the original names of sites of interest are not forgotten in a manner does not insult and cause distress to Black People. One way I would suggest is to change the name and attach a plaque explaining the history of the site and why the name was changed.  Most historical landmarks usually have a descriptive plaque attached to them anyway.

Will there every be a time in Quebec where  the word Nigger is not an acceptable way to describe Black people? Will there ever be a time in Quebec where anti Black speech and sentiment will be taken seriously and outlawed, like anti-Semitism?  Will there ever be a time when using in Quebec where Black people are  accepted and treated with respect. I am a grandfather of 5 and I hoe the answer is yes to all of those question and the yes comes sooner than later.

Thought: If you think that I used the word Nigger too much in this post, imagine how I feel and the rest of Black people feel knowing that there are sites of interest in Quebec that are officially named Nigger to remind us on a daily basis that some municipalities and some of their citizens in 2015 still feel that it is okay to use this word, because it accurately describes who and what Black people are?

About archemdis

I try to say what is on my mind and not hurt others, but some things need to be said whether they hurt or not and I do just that. I try to listen as well as talk, but my opinion is just that mine. You need not take it as your own, just respect the fact that I am entitled to it, as you are yours. I do read all comments, but will only answer, or allow to be displayed those which adress me by name, refer to the post by name in the comment, or that have been sent through the proper channels. In this manner I can tell whether the comment was meant for me and that it is not just spam.
This entry was posted in abuse, Canada, ethnoside, feeling rejected, feelings of hurt and hatred, Government, Prejudice, Quebec's Abuse of Its None Quebecoise Residents (Other Canadians), Racism, stereotyping and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.