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Reclaim the name: Saanich park to return to its Indigenous title, PKOLS

Name restoration jointly supported by Saanich, WSANEC Leadership Council
Saanich council moves forward on the WSANEC Leadership Council’s request to restore the traditional Indigenous name of PKOLS to Mount Douglas Park. (Courtesy District of Saanich)

Mount Douglas Park will soon be known by its Indigenous name – restoring a title that’s existed for thousands of years.

An important step towards reconciliation was taken during Monday (Aug. 15) night when Saanich council approved a WSANEC Leadership Council request to restore the area’s original name.

PKOLS is the name for Mount Douglas in the SENCOTEN language and a historically significant location steeped in culture and tradition, Tsawout First Nation elder and WLC community engagement coordinator, Eric Pelkey explained in a news release.

“PKOLS is an extremely important location in the history of the WSANEC Nation,” he said. “It was created by XALS as the border between us and the Lekwungen people, and it was where we met with James Douglas in 1852 to discuss what became known as the Douglas Treaty. For reasons, we, as WSANEC people, have a special relationship with PKOLS.”

Under the district’s parks naming policy, Saanich council has the authority to name or rename municipal parks. Back in 2019, council included renaming the park in its four-year strategic plan as an action to recognize the sacred significance of the area to the WSANEC people. In 2021, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Saanich and the WLC which prioritized the park’s renaming.

“This is another step forward in our journey toward reconciliation,” Mayor Fred Haynes said. “As we work to build and strengthen relationships with our neighbouring First Nations, I’m pleased to address this significant action from our strategic plan.”

The plan calls for Saanich and WLC staff to work together to develop an appropriate protocol to honour the name restoration. A ceremony to mark the park’s renaming is expected to take place in 2023.

Information regarding the event will be shared at when it becomes available.

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Austin Westphal

About the Author: Austin Westphal

Austin Westphal is the newest member to join the Saanich News team.
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