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Oak Bay may revisit history and how it’s presented in parks

Council discussion cut short, set to arise again at Nov. 29 meeting
A municipal plaque in Oak Bay’s Walbran Park could be under review for its wording and how accurately it reflects the history of the site. The federal historic site information at the top of the hill is already under review. (Photo by Bruce Kilpatrick)

A day dedicated to spreading good energy afforded an opportunity for Oak Bay Coun. Andrew Appleton to reopen discussions on reconciliation during Monday’s council meeting.

Nov. 22 sees Sno’uyutth Day celebrated in Oak Bay, a day named for the welcome pole outside Oak Bay High. Commissioned by the Community Association of Oak Bay through fundraising, the pole was designed by Songhees master carver, Butch Dick (Yuxwelupten) and carved by his son, the late Clarence Dick (Wa’shk).

Butch Dick named the work Sno’uyutth, which he described as meaning “spreading good energy.”

The pole was raised on Nov. 22, 2015 and its energy continues to spread through a legacy scholarship and the annual proclamation of the day.

READ ALSO: Oak Bay quietly marks five years since the Sno’uyutth welcome pole went up

Appleton took the opportunity of the special day to get started on reworking wording to most accurately reflect Oak Bay’s history.

He issued a notice of motion that council ask staff to start a review of historical monuments and plaques on district land, to ensure they include language that is respectful of Indigenous peoples and furthers the work of reconciliation.

Appleton’s motion specifically noted the 1925 municipal plaque in Walbran Park should be reviewed and considered for replacement. A federal plaque in the park is also under review.

Couns. Eric Zhelka and Esther Paterson said they wouldn’t support the motion as worded. Zhelka cited concerns with staff just moving forward without council input. While appreciating the spirit of the motion, Paterson suggested more engagement with local First Nations is required.

Discussion ended abruptly, with council needing a unanimously supported motion to extend a meeting. While members agreed to add five minutes to start the conversation, no follow up came, nipping the discussion short.

The motion remains on the table for the next council meeting, Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. at municipal hall, 2167 Oak Bay Ave. Find the agenda and meeting streamed online at

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Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

I'm dedicated to serving the community of Oak Bay as a senior journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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