John Dead Provincial Park is to be called LÁU,WELNEW/John Dean Provincial Park in future. (Nick Murray/News Staff)

Sign of the times: Park to be called John Dean and ȽÁU,WELNEW

Adam Olsen confirms park to be named ȽÁU,WELNEW/John Dean Provincial Park

Adam Olsen, Green MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, says a student-initiated move rename a provincial park to reflect its Aboriginal heritage won’t result in the old name being abandoned.

Olsen clarified that John Dean Provincial Park will not solely be called LÁU,WELNEW. Rather, in a spirit of cooperation, the park will have both names and be called LÁU,WELNEW/John Dean Provincial Park.

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“Bill 16 is an additive process not a reductive process,” he said, adding, “LÁU,WELNEW is a well recognized name for that park. The process is to embrace diversity, to be inclusive and a nice balance has been struck with that.”

Olsen said he was happy to clarify the specifics of the name change as there had been a mixed response to announcements it was to lose the John Dean name.

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According to Olsen, there isn’t a concerted program to add traditional names to all local parks and he said the specific change to John Dean was due to efforts from LÁU,WELNEW school students. However, similar requests would be considered.

LÁU,WELNEW Tribal School is located near Brentwood Bay. Last year a class went on a field trip and noticed the sign labeling it John Dean Provincial Park. The students knew the park and the mountain in its original name, LÁU,WELNEW, which means “place of refuge” in the language of the WSÁNEC people. Though the park was named after pioneer John Dean in 1921, it is known to the WSÁNEC people as the place that helped save their people during the Great Flood thousands of years ago.

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Renaming parks involves a fair amount of ministry work as names have to be researched to see if they are appropriate and uncontested. First Nations are consulted so that a name is used they all agree on, and in this case, surviving members of the Dean family were contacted for their views.

“There’s quite an interesting and informative story of this place before contact and so it gives us an opportunity to understand the history of where we call home in a more thorough way and pays tribute to a very long history. As this place was settled, first the colony, then the province added place names and this is to acknowledge it had a name before that,” he said.

With files from Christine Van Reeuwyk

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