Eleven Quebec locations to be renamed to remove racial slur

Monday, September 28, 2015

File photo of the Gatineau River. The Quebec Toponomy Commission states Nigger Rapids, a part of the Gatineau River, is to be renamed.
Image: Nickclose.

The Quebec Toponomy Commission, a Quebec public body which is responsible for naming places, cataloguing place names, and suggesting changes to their names, has announced in a press release on Friday that eleven locations in Quebec, whose names contain a racial slur, are to be renamed. The organization said they have yet to decide on the locations' future names.

All of the places which are to be renamed include the racial slur nigger, or its French counterpart negre, in their names. Among the list of places to be renamed is Nigger Rapids, a section of the Gatineau River where a black couple drowned.

Although Nigger Rapids was named after the Black couple, the Commission believed the name was no longer an appropriate way to remember them.

The press release notes "Some of these place names, over time, testify to historical events" ((fr))French language: ‍Certains de ces noms de lieux, consacrés par l'usage, témoignent d'événements historiques, but adds that even though the racial slurs are "of ancient usage" ((fr))French Language: ‍d'usage ancien, they still "violate the dignity of the members of the black community." ((fr))French language: ‍porter atteinte à la dignité des membres de la communauté noire.

The name changes came after Rachael Zellars, PhD candidate from McGill University, started a petition to rename the places. "Finally, importantly, we are insisting that the Rapids currently named, 'Nigger Rapids' in Bouchette, be renamed to memorialize the dead — that is, to honor the memory of the Black couple who struggled in this body of water and tragically died there in 1912. We want to know their names, just as we know Cartier, Champlain, etc. as markers for real human beings who lived and died in Quebec, rather than as racial or ethnic slurs", the petition said. 1,980 people have signed Zellars' petition.

Zellars said the petition was her way of saying "let me show you some disagreement".

The Commission has de-officialized the names in question.


  • Rachel Zellars. "Remove the term 'nigger' from all of Quebec's natural sites" — IPetitions, September 28, 2015 (date of access)
url: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/removing-nigger-from-quebecs-natural-sites