I have been thinking about all kinds of Reconciliation lately, and that took me to an important place – the top of what we know as “Mount Doug,” but to the W̱SÁNEĆ people is P’Kols. Stories about it go back to the beginning of time, when the Creator made the surrounding hills by casting stones upon the land from the top of P’Kols. The name can be taken to mean “White Head” and oral tradition traces this back to being the last place where glaciers retreated from southern Vancouver Island.
In pre-colonial times, one way to determine the nations’ boundaries was from P’Kols. Pointing to both San Juan Island and Mt. Tolmie, P’Kols and north was W̱SÁNEĆ, while to the south was Songhees and Esquimalt (SXIMEȽEȽ). It was a meeting place for far-flung families, and where nations met to share news.
When a young friend was considering U Vic, we took him to the top of P’Kols at Christmas time, in our shirtsleeves, and smiled as he nodded and said, “Yeah, I could do this.” So many people bring visitors here – and come to hike, contemplate, enjoy. Mount Doug’s 1858 Charter states, “The lands known as Mount Douglas Park are hereby reserved in perpetuity for the protection and preservation of the natural environment for the inspiration, use and enjoyment of the public”.
That’s protection for the future – but let’s share the oral history of the W̱SÁNEĆ as well. Lliam Hilderbrand, in the CRD’s Community Green Map, urges us to “all learn from the places we call our homeland. The quality of listening to the land and stories from the land can lead toward listening to each other. Respect for land and for each other is a lesson for any society and nation”. That reflects my belief in the power of places, and P’Kols is a powerful place for many.
You can read more where I got this history: http://crdcommunitygreenmap.ca/story/history-pkols-mount-douglas
Suzanne Heron of Blue Heron Art has a passion for community. “All of us need a sense of belonging, a sense of place. Everything I do shares the places and stories that bring deeper ties to our home.”