The Friendly Bay Islander - Oct 14, 2013 07:20

Chamber To Seek Name Change For Russell Island

The Bay Islands Chamber of Commerce is to seek the formal name change of Russell Island to that of Canaipa Island.

The chamber has decided to lodge a formal application with the Redland City Council via Division 5 councillor Mark Edwards.

"We have decided to formally seek an island name change because of the considerable support there is in the business community and from islanders in general," says chamber president Ian Goddard.

"There is no doubt that the name Russell Island to this day suffers from the negative publicity that was generated in the 1980s from some seedy land deals.

"Our islands deserve better than that and Russell Island deserves better than that.

"Clearly the name Russell Island is detrimental to the conducting of good business," the chamber president said.

He added that the name Canaipa Island seemed a universally popular good choice for a new name for the island.

Recent surveys conducted by The Friendly Bay Islander via Facebook and other commentary, has revealed almost 100 per cent support for a name change.

Almost, but not quite.

There are a few older residents who are naturally attached to the original name - that given to it in the 1840s by colonialists. The island was named after the British Secretary of State for the colonies, Lord John Russell.

Ironically, prior to that the island was known as Canaipa Island.

Canaipa is an aboriginal name that some say is unknown. Comments on the internet say it could mean hardened spear point and refers to where Canaipa Point juts into North Stradbroke Island.

Not all are in favour of the name change, however. One long-time resident raised concerns about the forthcoming 100th anniversary of the Russell Island State School and the affect a name change might have on that event.

According to Cr Mark Edwards, the process for a name change can be a long one.

The process involves considerable time and providing considerable information, not least of which is providing community support for the name change. This could involve a future referendum.

He admits to be a supporter of a name change, but said he could do little without a formal application being lodged.

He has said previously: "No island stands more in the public spotlight than Russell Island and I believe that legacy continues to hamper not only the advancement of Russell Island but the whole of SMBI which has been tarnished by past actions of developers.

"The question in my mind, and many others, is should we change the name of Russell Island to the original name of Canaipa, the aboriginal name?

"Not only would this respect the past but it would also place a line under the past association.

"This would not be a panacea for the “divide” but may be one of many steps to move the islands ahead," he said.

The Bay Islands Chamber of Commerce will submit a formal application for the name change in the coming weeks after the full procedure has been studied and applied.

By The Friendly Bay Islander