The name “Unjaga” was first officially used, as far as we know, by an Anglican Missionary who built a small mission near the old 1803 trading post close to present day Fort Vermilion. Rev. Garrioch, a true son of the country, liked the Indian name, meaning “Peace”. Bishop Young renamed the place the “Irene” Mission, since, being a classical scholar from England, he knew that “Irene” also meant “Peace”. Fortunately “Irene” didn’t stick! Besides having two common pronunciations, ‘Eye-reen-ee’ and ‘Eye-Reen’, it also lacks something of the charisma that has pulled men of all races and vocations to this area. Can you imagine anyone saying, “I’ve always wanted to see that Irene River Country.”? We must thank the Lawrence family of the Fort Vermilion area for perpetuating the strong “Unchagah” name which always challenges new comers to ask, “What does it mean?”
In the form “unajigaensis” it appears in the scientific or Latinized names of natural history or fossil specimens meaning that the form was first found or identified in this area, or is peculiar to it. It is a “Peace River area thing,” and as such names are recognized worldwide in science, its meaning is the same in Canada, England, Germany, or China.
In Dawson Creek, the name has been memorialized in the name of a large auditorium dedicated to the arts and culture of the community. Its construction ended a skirmish between the local citizens and the government department which did not want to replace the fine auditorium-theater that had been destroyed in a school fire.
The location of Peace Point, still so called on maps of the lower Peace River marks the scene of the great conference where the pipe of peace was smoked, ending the active wars (but not the local squabbles and hostilities) of the Beavers and the Crees.
The Peace River runs almost North and South in the vicinity of Peace Point. The Crees agreed to hunt only on the east side, leaving the west side as the Beavers’ hunting grounds. In ensuing years many Crees occupied the area south of the Peace as the Beavers withdrew further and further west.