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Rossland group proposes new name for King George VI park

A local group has suggested renaming King George VI Provincial Park at Paterson.

The Rossland Society for Environmental Education has suggested that following wetland restoration work, the park be named p̓aʔáx Provincial Park, after the Sinixt word for “healing.”

The society’s Alynn Smith says she contacted several Indigenous groups for advice. Marilyn James, matriarch of the Autonomous Sinixt, replied and visited the park several times.

“The park right now is in a bit of a state of upheaval because in order to return it to a wetlands they had to get some machinery in there,” Smith says. “Now the water is starting to collect and the plants are coming back. We’ve done some plantings and are monitoring for butterflies and frogs. But it does look like it’s in a healing state.

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“So [James] offered us the name, which means ‘to heal a wound.’ She stated that it hearkens to the healing of the land and park and also settler/Indigenous relations moving forward.”

Rossland city council and the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary have both endorsed the change, which will be submitted to BC Parks.

Smith is optimistic, as she says BC Parks’ own naming guidelines for parks suggest they should be locally relevant, with Indigenous names prioritized.

“It really goes along quite well with their policies. I imagine it will probably go through. I’m sure there will be questions and things coming up, but I’m hopeful it will be accepted.”

The 162-hectare park was created in 1937 to mark the coronation of King George VI. According to BC parks, it was “originally established to provide a day-use rest stop and campground for people entering Canada from the United States along Highway 22.”

However, after the facilities were vandalized, they were removed and the park was returned to a natural state. It is home to several species of endangered plants and a variety of wildlife.

The wetlands restoration program was completed about two years ago.

King George VI Provincial Park as seen from the entrance road, 2013. (Greg Nesteroff/Vista Radio)
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