An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
I’M PRETTY SURE reconciliation is supposed to be a two-way street, at least in the sense that people of different shades need to get together in a respectful fashion to figure things out.
So when I see an indigenous leader repeatedly use an insult to describe someone who gives $10 million to a local educational institution, I wonder if the message is getting through.
Carl Archie, a councillor with the Canim Lake Band, objects to renaming TRU’s School of Business and Economics after Bob Gaglardi, the donor.
Archie says in a letter to TRU that the school should have been given an indigenous name rather than honouring Gaglardi for his donation. In the letter, he refers to Gaglardi four different times as “an old white guy” or variations thereof.
He further characterizes Gaglardi as coming from an “intergenerationally wealthy family.” Bob Gaglardi, who is of Italian descent, grew up poor and became successful in business, achieving the wealth he’s now giving back to this and other communities.
If Coun. Archie isn’t aware, being described as “an old white guy” generally isn’t taken as a compliment.
Grievances of indigenous people are real and need to be addressed through the long and difficult road of reconciliation but, while using indigenous names is always worthy of consideration, especially for landmarks, there should also be room to name a university department after a non-indigenous donor.
TRU’s naming policy is certainly open to criticism. Rather than giving new facilities names with historical significance or naming them after people who have provided outstanding service to the university, it does so depending on how much money somebody donates.
But it is what it is, and under that policy a man who makes the biggest donation in the history of the university certainly qualifies.
Archie says naming the school of business “after another old white guy does not promote” reconciliation. Coun. Archie’s letter does nothing to promote it either.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.