Penelakut’s James names Wul’aam (Echo) Park

The park at Echo Heights has been renamed Wul’aam (Echo) Park.

The park at Echo Heights has been renamed Wul’aam (Echo) Park.

Mayor Jon Lefebure confirmed last Wednesday he consulted with officials from the Penelakut First Nation.

“I was able to communicate to their band manager and through her to their chief and they have supported this renaming,” Lefebure said.“The naming of this park reflects North Cowichan’s commitment to recognizing and respecting areas of importance for the Penelakut people.”

Pronounced “wool-ahm” and meaning “echo” in Hul’qumi’num, the name was suggested by Florence James, a Penelakut member and elder in residence at Vancouver Island University.

Penelakut chief Earl Jack is thankful the area was made into parkland after talks in 2014 and 2015 between the First Nation, greater community and municipality.

“It is meaningful to us that this culturally and spiritually significant area is being set aside as a park and is being left in its natural state,” he said.

Wul’aam’ (Echo) Park is located in an important area for the Penelakut people. The site was used for cultural ceremonies and is a biodiversity hot spot for many plants that were used in traditional medicines.

In officially adopting the new name, Councillor Maeve Maguire had suggested the word “echo” be removed from the park name.

“I hope we get to go beyond needing an explanation for Hul’qumi’num words,” she said in suggesting the English word be taken out.

Coun. Kate Marsh explained that the parks committee enjoyed the play on words with echo literally echoing the Hul’qumi’num word of the same meaning.

The majority of council agreed so the park in the Echo Heights neighbourhood will carry both the Hul’qumi’num and English words.

A public ceremony will be held in the spring to celebrate the naming of this park.

Cowichan Valley Citizen