Hiking Up Mount Doug | Honouring White Rock with the Stories of our Paths

by Melissa West on April 2, 2018

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Hiking Up Mount Doug

This past week we decided to take a hike in Mount Douglas Park in Victoria BC. Mount Doug Park is one of the best parks with hiking trails in and around Victoria. I love all the trails and the climb up Mount Doug.

Hiking up Mount Doub I began to reflect on all the paths Ie travelled and our personal connection to putting down roots in this place, Victoria BC. When we sold everything (and I mean everything – our home and all our belongings) and moved across the country to come and live in Victoria BC many assume we had no history with this place.

However, I lived here for many of my formative years as a young child on the mainland. I went to preschool, kindergarten and even attended my primary grades here in BC. Some of my earliest memories are of walking the paths and hiking trails on the mainland in B.C.

When I was in preschool we lived in Kitimat, which is on the North Coast of B.C. This is the land of the Haisla First Nations people. Kitimat is an industrial town that gets over 3 meters of snow a year. That is way taller than Tim.

When I was in the primary grades we lived in Port Coquitlam the land of the Kwikwitlem people and we hiked the tails along the Fraser River. Port Coquitlam gets a lot of rain, on average 40 mm per month!

When we arrived here in Victoria BC we had no place to live and it was one of our Yoga with Dr. Melissa West students and members who took us into your home, which is in the neighbourhood of Mount Doug.

Mount Doug is also known as the Hill of Cedars. It has not always been known as Mount Doug. In pre-colonial times there were stones places at the top of the mountain and it was called White Head or White Rock. The First People would meet here, the same as we do and look out at the top of the mountain at the land all around them. It was an important meeting place where relatives married into different families. It continues to be a sacred place for the Coast Salish people.

Here is a poem that I wrote as I was preparing to climb Mount Doug that day.

Forest Walking
by Melissa West

what does it mean
for me
to walk into the forest

a temporary guest
in your longtime
communal home

this place is steeped
in history
and the energy of our ancestors

even the new life
of the decomposing
leaves, branches, barks and twigs of the forest floor
speak to me
under each step

I can search pointlessly
for the wisdom of the elders
and yet here…

the experienced arbutus
exhibits adaptability
as it carefully and artfully grows

and the wise old gary oaks
establish wisdom
in their diminutive stature

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