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CANADA

Quebec to strike the N-word off the map

Google Earth | Satellite image shows the location of the 'Lake of the Negro' in the Canadian province of Quebec
2 min

Canadian officials have ordered that 11 places in the French-speaking province containing the N-word, or its French equivalent “nègre”, undergo a name change.

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Nearly a dozen sites – including a hill known as "Rocher Nigger" and "Nigger Rapids" – were deemed insulting and must be renamed, Canadian officials said over the weekend.

"Even if the words 'nigger' or nègre are of ancient usage, they can undermine the dignity of the black community," Quebec’s Toponymy Commission said in a statement.

"Indeed, the former has a strongly offensive connotation, while the latter has acquired a pejorative meaning over time," the agency in charge of place names added.

The word nègre can mean both Negro and the N-word in French.

Quebec is the only Canadian province that still features geographic locations containing these words.

From places to racist pastries

The commission said it hoped the alternative names would convey “the historic legacy of the place" and "recall the presence of the black community, which has enriched Quebec".

The decision follows a debate launched in August about the appropriateness of the name "Nigger Rapids", given in 1970 to rapids in the town of Bouchette, about 300 kilometres northwest of Montreal.

The use of the word nègre has also been the source of controversy in France.
Rights groups have campaigned for pastry shops to rename chocolate-covered marshmallows known as tête de nègres, or “negro heads”, with largely successful results.

However, calls to rename a neighbourhood in the southwestern city of Biarritz known as La nègresse sparked a flood of angry reactions online in June.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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