Mount Tzouhalem cross cut down in act mayor calls 'plain unacceptable'

A large metal cross that stood at the summit of Mount Tzouhalem near Duncan for many years has been cut down.

North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring said he believes the local landmark was toppled on Saturday or Sunday.

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“All we know for sure is it’s been vandalized,” Siebring said. “Based on the pictures, it looks like somebody used a grinder to take it off, very near the base.”

He said the use of a grinder is concerning because it’s fire season. “You throw a grinder on metal at this time of year and there’s a lot of sparks.”

The Nature Conservancy of Canada said the land on Mount Tzouhalem is known as the Chase Woods Nature Preserve and is in the heart of the Cowichan Tribes’ traditional territory.

Siebring said he hopes what was done to the cross had nothing to do with other recent acts of vandalism, including the toppling of a James Cook statue in Victoria’s Inner Harbour. That act came amid reaction to the discovery of unmarked graves at former residential schools.

Siebring said the toppling of the cross, which is well-known throughout the region, is “just plain unacceptable.”

Siebring said it was a Christian symbol but also had broader significance in the community.

“There was a wood cross up there for years, and that kept getting vandalized or blown over,” he said. “So then the decision was made to do a metal cross.”

The metal cross came down in a November windstorm in 2014 and was repaired.

He said he received many comments from people upset about the cross when he posted news of the incident on Facebook.

The metal cross was hauled up the mountain by a wide variety of people, including members of a Catholic Church on the Cowichan reserve and another one nearby, he said.

jbell@timescolonist.com

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