John Dean Provincial Park renamed to include Indigenous name

June 3, 2019 at 10:52 am  BC, News, Politics

Students from ȽÁU,WELṈEW̱ Tribal School, along with First Nations Chiefs, Elders and representatives from the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council, are celebrating their efforts to have John Dean Provincial Park renamed to include a traditional Indigenous name.

George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, and Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich-North and the Islands, joined the celebrations at ȽÁU,WELṈEW̱ Tribal School. To reflect historical and cultural significance, the park will be renamed ȽÁU,WELṈEW̱/John Dean Park (pronounced Tlay-will-nook), which translates to “place of refuge.” The name change received royal assent on May 16, 2019, as part of an amendment to the Protected Areas of BC Act.

Located in North Saanich, the mountain in the park features prominently in local First Nations culture as a place that helped save people during the Great Flood thousands of years ago. Due to this connection to the park, the students at ȽÁU,WELṈEW̱ Tribal School requested the name change to include the traditional name for the mountain in the language of the W̱SÁNEĆ peoples. BC Parks will update and add new signage that includes both names during the coming year.

Last year, three provincial parks were renamed as part of reconciliation efforts with Indigenous peoples. Brooks Peninsula Park near Port Alice was renamed Mquqwin/Brooks Peninsula Park, Boya Lake Park in northwest B.C. was renamed Tā Ch’ilā Park and Roderick Haig-Brown Park near Kamloops was renamed Tsútswecw Provincial Park.

Also this year, the Power River Watershed Protected Area on northern Vancouver Island was renamed the Hisnit River Watershed Protected Area. Hisnit is the traditional name for sockeye in the Che:k’tles7et’h’ language.


George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy —

“The letter from students requesting the name change caused me to reflect on what it means to Indigenous youth to see recognition and respect for their traditions, culture, language and the stories they’re told growing up. The Indigenous renaming of parks allows our government to take an important step forward in our ongoing reconciliation efforts with Indigenous peoples throughout British Columbia and find meaningful ways to recognize and respect their culture and connection to protected lands.”

Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands and member of Tsartlip First Nation —

“I am honoured to celebrate with the students of ȽÁU,WELṈEW̱ Tribal School as the park and mountain they have known all their lives is acknowledged with its original name ȽÁU,WELṈEW̱ in addition to the designation it was assigned in 1921 of John Dean Park. By listening to the Indigenous youth in our communities with open hearts, we learn that reconciliation is about acknowledging our past and working together in a compassionate way through purposeful acts of kindness and inclusion that benefit us all.”

Tsartlip Chief Don Tom, chairman of the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council —

“The W̱SÁNEĆ people have always known this place as ȽÁU,WELṈEW̱. It is where our ancestors found refuge after the Great Flood and it is where we bring our children today to learn our history. The name ȽÁU,WELṈEW̱ is woven into our very identity as W̱SÁNEĆ people. With that said, it is a welcome change for the Province to recognize the original name of this place. Only through a common understanding of the true history of this land can the difficult work of reconciliation begin.”

Maureen Dale, president of the Friends of John Dean Society —

“The Friends of John Dean Park Society and several descendants of John Dean who were engaged in the renaming process are delighted with the outcome and fully endorse the final naming decision, which recognizes the significance of the mountain to First Nations while retaining the legacy of John Dean’s gift of the park.”

Learn More:

For more information about ȽÁU,WELṈEW̱/John Dean Park, visit:

For more information about the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council, visit:

For more information about BC Parks, visit:

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