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PKOLS to be new official name for Mount Douglas Park

A ceremony to mark the W̱SÁNEĆ name is being planned.
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PKOLS — pronounced p'cawls —means "white rock" in the SENĆOŦEN language. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

PKOLS is well on its way to becoming the official name of Mount Douglas Park.

The formal renaming process being advanced by Saanich council follows a request from the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council. A ceremony to mark the name change is being planned.

The W̱SÁNEĆ word PKOLS (pronounced p’cawls) has been widely associated the park since 2013, when several hundred people marched up the 225-metre-high mountain with a hand-carved cedar sign.

A request to the province for a name change for the mountain was made, but it took time for further action.

The site has had dual signage over the years.

Eric Pelkey, a member of the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council and a Tsawout First Nation elder, welcomed the progress made in changing the name. “We’re really happy about that,” he said.

Pelkey said PKOLS means “white rock” in the SENĆOŦEN language.

“When the Creator created Mount Doug, he threw a white rock to show us the border between ourselves and the Lekwungen Nation,” he said. “It landed and grew into what is PKOLS to us.”

Changing the name to PKOLS has been a goal for some time, Pelkey said. “It’s something that our elders and our families always wanted to have restored because PKOLS is such an important place in the history of our people.”

The mountain was where, in 1852, the W̱SÁNEĆ people met James Douglas — whom Mount Douglas is named for — to discuss what was to become part of the Douglas Treaties, Pelkey said.

He said the coming together of the District of Saanich and the W̱SÁNEĆ was helped by a memorandum of understanding signed last December called “ÁTOL,NEUEL,” or “respecting one another.” The agreement with the three W̱SÁNEĆ Nations — the Tsartlip, the Tseycum and the Tsawout — addresses measures such as the W̱SÁNEĆ having participation in land and water decisions in their territory.

The renaming of Mount Douglas Park was discussed as part of the memorandum, said Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes.

A name change was “out in the wind for a while,” but wasn’t formalized, he said.

Details such as the wording on the park sign were left with the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council, Haynes said.

“They themselves came up with PKOLS, and then underneath in parentheses ‘Mount Doug Park,’ ” he said. “So it’s their kindness, it’s their insight, it’s their speaking to truth and recognizing, of course, the name of PKOLS is important, but so also was the name Mount Doug.

“I couldn’t be more pleased at the outcome and the guidance that we received from the elders of the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council.”

Haynes said that council’s actions have acknowledged the importance of PKOLS from a historic, spiritual and territorial standpoint.

He called the renaming another step forward on the road to reconciliation.

jbell@timescolonist.com