By Judith Lavoie
To the beat of drums, as an eagle drifted overhead, the mixed aboriginal and non-aboriginal crowd cheered the name reclamation after carrying the sign to the summit of Pkols.
“I think people are hungry for the history of indigenous people in this area,” said Tsawout hereditary chief Eric Pelkey, who led the move to rename the Saanich mountain.
“They ask why there’s no reflection of the injustices that have happened here in the past,” he said as people streamed up the mountain, many carrying placards saying “Reclaim, Rename, Reoccupy.”
Saanich police Const. Petra Dornblut estimated the event drew between 600 and 700 people.
“It has been very peaceful. It’s unique for us and very enjoyable,” she said.
The mountain is sacred to the Saanich people because it represents their nation’s birthplace.
While First Nations took direct action Wednesday to restore the original name of the mountain, they have also made an official application to the province for a name change.
“We request that the province of B.C. officially recognize the traditional name Pkols to replace the colonial name Mount Douglas in the Geographic Names Registry,” says a letter from Pelkey to the Geographical Names Office.
It wouldn't bother me if you renamed my home street, school, town, etc. I could still remember and cherish the old name if I wished. A new name would simply be a new talking point, not something that affects my identity or self-image.
It would be similar to your mother, ex-wife, sister, or daughter marrying someone and changing her last name. Would the loss of your last name really hurt you? How?
Changing a name is a trivial matter that doesn't affect the underlying person, school, or mountain. It's stupid and illogical to oppose such a change.
For more on geographic name changes, see Murkowski Proposes Renmaing Mt. McKinley and "Negro" and "Squaw" Place Names.
Below: "About 600 First Nations people and their supporters march to the top of Mount Douglas Wednesday evening for an emotional renaming ceremony. They want the Saanich mountain to once again be known by its original name, Pkols. Helping to carry a new sign for the summit is Maori Paul Tangira (black and white T-shirt), a Gordon Head resident." (Bruce Stotesbury/Times Colonist)