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Squamish Nation requests official name change for Lower Mainland peak

The Squamish Nation has formally requested a name change for a well-known peak in the Lower Mainland.

In a submission to the BC Geographical Names Office, the nation requests the name of Mount Garibaldi be changed to Nch’ḵay̓, which is its traditional name.

“It has a spiritual and historical connection to our people. You know, it probably is our biggest legend because it’s the mountain that saved our families and saved our nation during the great flood,” said Wilson Williams, a spokesperson for Squamish Nation.

“Our people have that deep connection to Nch’ḵay̓,” he explained. "Going up the Sea to Sky Highway, I’m always reminded of Nch’ḵay̓ being the mountain that saved our people. It’s something I teach my children to this day.”

Having received the request, the names office sent a letter late last month to various stakeholders, including the District of Squamish, soliciting feedback on potential change.

Nch’ḵay̓ means "dirty place" or "grimy one" in the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh language, according to the letter.

"The name comes from the tendency for the Cheekye River to look muddy in colour, a result of volcanic debris in the area that colours the water and surrounding landscape," the letter reads.

While the Squamish have always referred to the mountain as Nch’ḵay̓, the name Mount Garibaldi was given to the peak in the 1860s, to commemorate General Giuseppe Garibaldi, a key contributor to Italian unification.

"It is unlikely that Garibaldi ever visited British Columbia," the letter reads.

There are also 10 other official place names honoring Garibaldi on record in B.C., including the provincial park in which the peak is located.

The letter does not indicate a timeframe for adopting or rejecting the proposed change, but requests feedback be submitted by Dec. 31.

In a written response to CTV News, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport says after the closing period, “all comments will be evaluated and the process may take several weeks or months, depending on the volume and nature of the comments received.”

"Please note that if there are any official name changes, online name records will forever include the history of all previous official names," the letter to the district reads.

Garibaldi Mountain is within Garibaldi Park, but the province says the name change request only refers to the mountain. Top Stories


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