BC Ferries renaming vessel to better reflect Indigenous heritage, remove colonial ties

BC Ferries says it is renaming one of its vessels to remove the colonial ties associated with the current name and better reflect the Indigenous community it serves.

The private company says it is renaming the MV Kuper to Pune’luxutth, a name chosen by Penelakut Tribe.

“Pune’luxutth” is the word for Penelakut in Hul’qumi’num’ — a traditional Salish language.

The vessel serves the route that connects Chemainus on Vancouver Island to Thetis Island and Penelakut Island (formerly Kuper Island).

The previous name, Kuper, is widely associated with a former residential school of the same name and its painful history, BC Ferries says.

“Penelakut Tribe is relieved to see the removal of the colonial name Kuper,” said Josh James, Penelakut Tribe councillor. “Furthermore, we are proud to see the use of our Hul’qumi’num language. We look forward to continue building our relationship with BC Ferries.”

BC Ferries says the renaming reflects the organization’s commitment to reconciliation.

“By renaming our vessel to a name that acknowledges and honours 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 BC Ferries president and CEO Nicolas Jimenez.

With files from Raynaldo Suarez and The Canadian Press.

This article has been updated to reflect that BC Ferries is a private company, not a crown corporation.

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