Naming the West: Task 1

Background Information: Toponymy is a branch of geography that involves the names people give to geographical features. Students will learn that a study of Western Canadian place names is a powerful way to uncover fascinating issues at play in the seemingly simple act of giving a name to a place.

In this activity, student will come to understand the key values that underlie naming conventions in different cultures, particularly the differences between indigenous and European naming practices.

Beginning Activity: Investigating Names
With your students investigate their own personal names. Who are they named after? What are the stories of how you were named? What does your name represent? How would you go about changing your name? Is this possible?*

Have the students bring in pictures, artifacts and stories that represent the history of their own name and that of their family members. Sharing this amongst the group, help your students to identify the characteristics within the names and how they come to represent the person and in doing so become their personal story of history.

Students may represent their names using posters, electronic documents, blogs or googledocs.

*As a group, we are also including a mandatory website credibility chart for all resources accessed online. This was not part of the original task. Please see spreadsheet document entitled Website Credibility