Nature conservancy says ‘contentious’ Mount Tzouhalem cross to be removed
The Nature Conservancy of Canada announced Wednesday it is removing the controversial cross from atop Mount Tzouhalem.
Communications manager Lesley Marian Neilson said in a statement that the organization is “increasingly concerned about the ongoing vandalism at the cross site.
“We are a land conservation organization that is focussed on protecting and restoring natural areas. We are not prepared to accept the liability posed by this contentious public landmark and will be removing it from the site.”
The cross is situated atop a steep rocky bluff in the conservancy’s 40-hectare Chase Woods Nature Preserve. (https://bit.ly/3LHlHAy)
The conservancy’s decision is certain to disappoint or delight, depending on whether you believe the cross should stay or go. There are Indigenous and non-Indigenous people on both sides of the argument.
Regardless of one’s perspective, know that Mt. Tzouhalem is one of the six mountains that make up North Cowichan’s 5,000-hectare Municipal Forest Reserve — the subject of an important and ongoing public consultation process.
The results of the first round of consultations show widespread support for values other than logging, including habitat and ecology, water protection, recreation, and viewscapes. (https://bit.ly/3kESuKy)
In the next round, UBC forestry officials will be providing a series of potential management options for the forest reserve.
Here’s a time-line of events involving the cross:
— July 2021, the long-standing white metal cross atop 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, sixmountains.ca reports that the cross has been mysteriously painted rainbow colours, a potential reference to sexual and gender diversity.
— March 2022, sixmountains.ca 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.
— May 2022, the conservancy learns that the metal cross has been forcibly bent over to about a 90-degree angle.
(Instagram photo of woman spray painting the cross orange.)
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— Larry Pynn, May 4, 2022