Council backs calls for Russell Island name change

Redland City Council has backed a call from the Bay Islands Chamber of Commerce for the State Government to change the name of Russell Island to its traditional indigenous name Canaipa Island.

Council today supported a motion from Division 5 Councillor for the Southern Moreton Bay Islands Cr Mark Edwards to provide a letter of support to the Bay Islands Chamber of Commerce for the name change.

“The Chamber of Commerce have been actively engaging with the local community regarding the proposed name change and have now approached Council to ask if we would provide in-principle support,” he said.

“Today’s decision reflects Council’s support of the name change, but ultimately the decision rests with the State Government and the decision could take a long time.

“If the name change was approved by the State Government it would co-exist with the existing Russell Island name for many years to minimise any impacts.

“The proposed name change would strengthen the Redlands’ acknowledgement of the region’s traditional owners, as well as shedding some historical negative conations of the Russell Island land scams of the 1970s.

“It may also add to the island’s tourism appeal by highlighting its strong history and showing the connections it has with the area’s traditional owners. 

“The Quandamooka people have also indicated they would like to perform a traditional ceremony on Canaipa each year to acknowledge and celebrate the occasion.” 

Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC) Chief Executive Officer Cameron Costello said the Chamber of Commerce had discussed the proposed name change with them and Quandamooka Elders.

“The Quandamooka Elders support Council’s decision today regarding changing the name of Russell Island back to its traditional name of Canaipa,” Mr Costello said.

Cr Edwards said the island had been originally called Canaipa until the 1840s when it was changed in recognition of Lord John Russell, the British Secretary of State for the colonies at the time.

“There are already a number of references to Canaipa on the island and the Quandamooka People have always referred to the island as Canaipa Island, so this name in a sense is already being used,” he said.

“The exact meaning of Canaipa is unclear but some suggest it means hardened spear point and refers to where Canaipa Point juts into North Stradbroke Island.”