SIMON NATTRASS: Mount Doug no more: reclaiming PKOLS

Over 160 years ago, a 14-year-old boy was travelling through the Camosun area to deliver news of James Douglas’ arrival...

Over 160 years ago, a 14-year-old boy was travelling through the Camosun area — then a shortcut to the villages of the WSANEC and Songhees — to deliver news of James Douglas’ arrival on the east coast of the island.

On the way, the boy was shot and killed by a farmer. The response from local indigenous groups was swift — cornered and hopelessly outnumbered at the top of a mountain, Douglas offered a truce. “The Douglas treaties were peace treaties,” says WSANEC hereditary chief Kevin Paul. “There is no land treaty.”

Nevertheless, that day went down in written history as the day Sir James Douglas bought Victoria, and Mount Doug was named in his honour. It is this myth which prompted local activists and members of the Tsawout, WSANEC, and Songhees peoples to gather last week to reaffirm the mountain’s traditional name, PKOLS (pronounced p’kawls).

While a formal request has been sent to the provincial government, speakers at last week’s event made it clear that they aren’t seeking permission to reclaim their history. “We are drawing attention to the fact that we never gave up our rights to that land,” says Paul, “nor were we consulted when the old name was paved over.”

Despite The Capital’s proud history of violent opposition to even the smallest change in our lifestyle, there was nothing adversarial about last week’s celebration atop PKOLS. “There are a lot of things that our people have to be mad about,” says Paul, “but instead of the oppressed becoming the oppressor, something inclusive was done on that day.” This action hints at the work still required to stall the ongoing process of colonization. The patchwork of planned pipelines, the logging of the Juan De Fuca Trail by developer-turned-industrialist Ender Ilkay, the coal mine recently delayed in the Comox Valley — these are the visceral effects of the same force that saw fit to name PKOLS after its herald.

A name reflects what we choose to honour as a region and as a society. PKOLS was and is a sacred place, steeped in magic and tradition. Sir James Douglas was a liar and a bigot whose life’s work laid the foundation for 150 years of injustice. Ask yourself: which name will you choose? M

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Scarlet fever reported at Victoria elementary school

Parents advised to look for symptoms of ‘strawberry tongue’ and rash

Saanich dog walkers react to potential review of bylaws allowing off-leash dogs on beaches

Focus should have remained on migratory birds, not on dog behaviour, says Cadboro Bay dog walker

No dogs allowed off-leash at Luxton Fairgrounds in Langford

New sign placed by Metchosin Farmers Institute on Wednesday, Feb. 19

North Saanich’s Deep Cove Market up for sale for almost $1.8 million

Long-time owner Rosemary Scott hopes the public will understand her decision

Council approve temporary storage to extend life of Oak Bay Fire Hall

It’s cute, it’s iconic, but the picturesque Oak Bay Fire Hall is… Continue reading

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

Toffoli scores OT winner as Canucks beat Habs 4-3

Demko makes 37 saves for Vancouver

Private clinics would harm ‘ordinary’ people using public system in B.C.: lawyer

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in 2018 that the government would begin to fine doctors $10,000

B.C. terminates contract with hospice society refusing assisted death

Delta Hospice Society loses hospital service fund of $1.5 million

Child in hospital following fatal crash that killed father, sibling on B.C. highway

The single vehicle crash occured near Kamloops on Highway 5A

‘Die!’: Vernon councillor mailed death threat

This story contains information that might be sensitive to some readers

Hidden message connects Castlegar homeowners decades apart

The Rodgers family was surprised when a message fell out of the walls as they were renovating

Two B.C. men plead guilty to bus-terminal assault of man with autism in Ontario

Parmvir Chahil and Jaspaul Uppal due to be sentenced in June for aggravated assault

Most Read