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Derogatory geographical names

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and the naming authorities of the Geographical Names Board of Canada (GNBC) are aware of the derogatory nature of certain place names. As with language and terminology, the names of geographical features evolve over time, alongside changing societal values. The names of geographical features, as well as community names, are not static and may change through processes and procedures maintained by Canada’s naming authorities.

Provinces, territories and some federal departments hold jurisdiction for geographical naming activities. When provincial and territorial naming authorities are made aware of the inappropriateness or derogatory nature of certain place names, the naming authority addresses the issue according to policies and procedures specific to the jurisdiction.

Provincial and territorial naming authorities receive requests to name or rename geographical features on a regular basis. Names that are officially adopted are added to the national names database.

What we are doing

In a proactive measure, NRCan has implemented a content warning on our website to indicate certain geographical names available through web search tools and open data may be considered derogatory or offensive.

NRCan is responsible for the national map of Canada, and we have removed some derogatory names from the interactive maps available online. While this does not change the official status or availability of these particular names, they will no longer be perpetuated on official federal maps.

NRCan has formed a working group for federal, provincial and territorial GNBC members to share and discuss anti-racism commitments and statements, best practices, and approaches to addressing derogatory geographical names across the country.

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