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Mount Tzouhalem cross vandalized again on land conservancy property

The cross atop Mount Tzouhalem — a subject of intense ongoing controversy — has been vandalized yet again.

In recent days, the metal cross has been forcibly bent over to about a 90-degree angle atop a rocky bluff on Nature Conservancy of Canada property overlooking the Cowichan Valley.

It is the latest chapter in an ongoing divisive debate. Some believe the cross should stay, others want it gone. There are Indigenous and non-Indigenous people on both sides of the argument.

Here’s the time-line of events:

— July 2021, the long-standing white metal cross at Mount Tzouhalem is removed without permission.

— February 2022, news outlets report a new white cross has been erected at the site, also without permission.

— Later in February, reports that the cross has been mysteriously painted rainbow colours, a potential reference to sexual and gender diversity.

— March 2022, reports that the cross has been painted orange, with the number 215 painted on the rocks nearby — an apparent reference to Indigenous children and residential schools, including unmarked graves found at Kamloops.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2016) identified at least 3,200 student deaths at residential schools across Canada.

Tuberculosis was cited as the leading cause, followed by influenza and pneumonia. In many cases, the cause was not identified.

Lesley Marian Neilson, communications manager for the land conservancy, said her organization became aware of the latest vandalism on Monday. However, the organization has not publicly provided a full response to ongoing events and how it would like to see the situation resolved.

Mount Tzouhalem is one of the Six Mountains of North Cowichan.

( photo)

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— Larry Pynn, May 3, 2022


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