The British Columbia government says the province’s own name isn’t inclusive enough to use.

A writing guide for Indigenous content published by the province’s NDP government urges people to refrain from referring to themselves as “British Columbians.” 

“The term ‘British Columbians’ is often used to reference people living in B.C. This term excludes Indigenous Peoples who may not identify with it. For many, they identify as members of their own sovereign nations and do not consider themselves part of one that has actively worked to assimilate their people,” the guide reads. 

The guide, updated Jan. 26 26, 2024, aims to promote more inclusive language and avoid “outdated” and offensive terms. 

It provides recommendations for authors and communicators regarding terms to use when talking about Indigenous issues.

Notably, it advises against the use of the term ‘British Columbians,’ citing its so-called exclusionary nature towards Indigenous peoples who may not identify with the label. 

Instead, it suggests employing the phrase ‘people living in B.C.’ to be more inclusive of diverse populations, including immigrants. 

“’British Columbians’ also excludes other groups such as newcomers and refugees. We recommend instead saying ‘people living in B.C.’”

Furthermore, the guide includes a section on “Outdated terms to avoid,” discouraging the use of terms such as ‘native,’ ‘traditional,’ ‘tribe,’ ‘band,’ and ‘aboriginal groups.”

“Traditional (i.e. traditional knowledge, traditional territories, makes it seem like it is only applicable to the past and not the present.) When referring to ceremonies, please check with the local Nation’s website for assistance on whether to include ‘traditional’,” explains the guide. 

It also encourages the adoption of language that reflects woke principles and provides alternative word choices.

“Some words have historical connotations which may cause unease or mistrust. Awareness of this historical lens is important when working with Indigenous Peoples,” the guide claims. 

Among the examples it cites is the word “artifact.”

“When used out of context it has negative connotations to many Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous communities struggle to reclaim cultural and ceremonial regalia, artwork and tools which were stolen and are displayed publicly or privately,” the guide reads.

This move follows previous efforts by the BC government to control speech such as the removal of 750 “outdated gender-based” terms from provincial regulations in 2022.

These changes, part of the Better Regulations for British Columbians initiative, eliminated terms like “he,” “she,” “himself,” “herself,” “father,” “son,” and “aunt” from the official vocabulary.

At the time parliamentary secretary for gender equity, Grace Lore, defended the changes, stating that using inclusive language removes barriers to services and protects people’s rights. 

However, critics argue that such measures represent government overreach and prioritize political correctness over practicality.