Quebec authors say the original Cree names should be respected for the 101 islands in the Caniapiscau Reservoir.
“It’s respect. I’m in agreement with giving back the name that was there before, just like in Abitibi I would not want someone to rename the places as if they had just been discovered,” said Jean-Mance Delisle, a Rouyn-Noranda author.
“If they had a name that was given by the people who lived there, for them it had a very profound significance.”
A phrase from Delisle’s 1983 novel was used to give a new name to one of the islands in the reservoir. The new name is “L’Amante Ephemere” (The Fleeting Lover).
This island already has a Cree name, according to Chisasibi Elders Sam and Margaret Bearskin, who took the time to identify some of the Cree names given to the former mountains. They identified this island as “Bishkwaashkwaayaau” (Thick Forest Mountain).
Another island was named after a phrase in a novel by Pierre Turgeon, a Montreal author.
The new name is: “La Cavalier au Tricorne” (Horseman with a Three-Cornered Hat). Turgeon also disagreed with the plan when told the island already has a Cree name: “Aanaaukaash-kwaayaach” (End of Mountain).
“You obviously have to respect the Cree names that were already there. That’s clear,” he said.
“Certainly it’s a question of respect,” agreed Montreal author Nicole Brassard, whose novel Le Desert Mauve was used as one of the names. The island’s original Cree name is “Bishuchii” (Lynx Mountain). “If the mountain was called Bishuchii before and everyone used this name, what do you want me to tell you?”
Claude Prud’homme, director of Editions du Noroit, spoke on behalf of poet Rachel Leclerc, whose poem “Barocco” was used to rename yet another island.
“Personally I am entirely in agreement with them (Crees). We must keep the names given by theNative people who live in the area.”