New map honors indigenous place names in Canada

To mark the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada, the Canadian-American Center at the University of Maine has published a new map, “Coming Home to Indigenous Place Names in Canada.” The map honors indigenous place names in Canada and the assertion of indigenous authority through place names.

Commissioned by Stephen Hornsby, director of UMaine’s Canadian-American Center, “Coming Home to Indigenous Place Names in Canada” was researched and designed by cartographer Margaret Pearce.

The map depicts indigenous place names across Canada, shared by permission of First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities and people.

“One of the aims of the map,” Hornsby says, “is to represent Canada in a new way by highlighting the importance of indigenous names for understanding places and landscape features.”

As described in the map, indigenous place names “express territorial rights and describe the shapes and sounds of sovereign lands. They mark the locations of the gathering places, the communities, the places of danger and beauty, and the places where the treaties were signed.”

The map does not depict all of the indigenous place names in Canada, nor are all indigenous nations and communities represented. Beyond the map’s names are thousands upon thousands more, “an ever growing and expanding atlas of intimate geographical knowledge and experience.”

To make the map, Pearce spent months researching names and calling communities and language keepers to ask permission to include their names.

“The intention of the map is to create respect for indigenous homelands and sovereignties, and a feeling for and understanding of indigenous place names,” Pearce said. “That includes asking permission and respecting intellectual and cultural property.”

The Canadian-American Center does not profit from the production and sale of the map. The public is invited to purchase a copy for the cost of printing and postage, or download a secure PDF through the center’s website.

Contact: Stephen Hornsby, 207.581.4220