Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) has requested the provincial government officially change the name of Mount Garibaldi back to its original Nch’ḵay̓.
In a letter that is attached to Squamish council’s Oct. 3 agenda, the province's Trent Thomas, a provincial toponymist with the BC Geographical Names Office, asks the District of Squamish and council members for their feedback on the proposed name change.
“A vital part of the geographical naming process is to request comments from governments, communities and relevant organizations potentially affected by a feature’s name. Please note that if there are any official name changes, online name records will forever include the history of all previous official names,” reads the letter from Thomas.
An attached link in the letter states the name Nch’ḵay̓ (pronounced in-ch-KAY) has been used for thousands of years by the Nation and the mountain itself is considered sacred. The letter says the name means “Dirty Place” or “Grimy one,” both of which come from the “tendency for the Cheekye River to look muddy in colour, a result of volcanic debris in the area.”
The letter states that the name Mount Garibaldi originates from a ship captain of the Royal Navy commemorating the Italian General Giuseppe Garibaldi in the 1860s.
“It is unlikely that Garibaldi ever visited British Columbia,” the letter continues. “There are 10 other official names which commemorate him in the province, including the prominent provincial park.”
Information provided to the province this year by the Nation notes, “[Its] oral history talks of a time of a great flood when Nch’ḵay̓ played a central role in the survival of the Squamish people. During the great flood, the waters rose to such an extent that only Nch’ḵay̓ and several other taller mountains remained above the water. The Squamish people tethered their canoes to the top of Nch’ḵay̓ using rope made from cedar trees until the water receded.”
“Nch’ḵay̓ is also important to the Squamish people for ceremonial purposes, navigation, weather predicting, obsidian gathering, food and plant gathering, and animal hunting.”
The letter asks for the District to respond before Dec. 31, 2023.
For more information about the mountain name, please visit the BC Geographical Names page for Mount Garibaldi and Nch’ḵay̓. View the letter from the province on the District’s Oct. 3 agenda or below.
Please note, we reached out to Squamish Nation for comment and will update this story when we hear back.