Reclaimed Pkols (Mount Douglas) a source of First Nation pride

Ashlee Cooper made her way up the winding road to the summit of Pkols, the mountain also known as Mount Douglas.

“I’m here to re-march the mountain. I was here last year so I thought it would be nice to come again a second time to show my support for reclaiming traditional names,” said Cooper, who is a member of the Tsartlip reserve. “It’s a very sacred place for my nation. I’m very happy to be here to show my support.”

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Wearing a woven cedar hat and walking her five-year-old greyhound, Tale, Cooper joined about 50 people who came out Thursday to celebrate the one-year anniversary of reclaiming Pkols, the sacred mountain of the Coast Salish people.

“We didn’t want this to go by and not keep re-educating the public about the importance of this mountain to our people, what it really means to us,” said Tsawout hereditary chief Eric Pelkey, who organized the celebration.

Pkols, which means white rock, is the name his people gave the mountain. It represents the beginning of time for the Coast Salish people. The mountain also has significance as the place where Sir James Douglas met local First Nations in 1852 to discuss and sign a treaty.

Pelkey used the anniversary to announce the reclamation of another mountain. On Sept. 21, Mount Newton will be reclaimed Lau,Welnew, he said.

Sierra Club campaigns director Caitlyn Vernon marched to the summit with 800 people last year to show her support for local First Nations who are reclaiming their traditional names.

“When we think about environmental issues and what it means to be stewards of the land, those of us who are more recent to this island have a lot to learn from First Nations people who have been here for thousands of years. One of the ways we can learn is by respecting the original names for the landscapes that we live on,” Vernon said, as she made the ascent for a second year.

Last year, while First Nations took direct action to restore the original name of the mountain, they made an official application to the province for a name change.

Artist Charles Elliott carved the Pkols sign with a thunderbird over a mountain which is now permanently installed at the summit. He came to the celebration because he strongly believes in the renaming. “I’m here because I believe in what’s going on,” he said. “It’s a small bit of decolonization.”

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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