Authenticity of Indigenous stone pillar found on Victoria beach called into question

Authenticity of Indigenous stone pillar found on Victoria beach called into question

The authenticity of an Indigenous stone pillar found on a Victoria beach is being called into question.

Earlier this week, the Royal BC Museum announced that a rare 100-kilogram Lekwungun ritual sandstone pillar had been found on a beach near Dallas Road last summer.

Shortly after the announcement was made, local artist Ray Boudreau came forward claiming he created carvings found on the pillar back in the summer of 2017 — even sharing photos of his work with various media outlets, including the Times Colonist and CHEK News.

Boudreau, whose claim has since forced the museum to re-examine the unique object, told CHEK News on Sunday that he carved the pillar. He said he came across it on the beach in July 2017 and spent a couple of days carving it before it mysteriously vanished.

“It just showed up and then it disappeared,” he said. “It is kind of a mystery.”

RELATED: Carved stone pillar found on B.C. beach identified as Indigenous artifact

A photo timestamped July 2017 sent to CHEK News by Boudreau shows a similar-looking pillar to the one the Royal BC Museum claims is a rare 100-kilogram Lekwungun ritual stone pillar that was discovered last summer at a beach in Victoria.

It’s unclear how the pillar first ended up on the beach, but Boudreau thinks it could have fallen off one of two barges that ended up colliding near Clover Point in 2016. He also believes the pillar is actually argillite, a type of sedimentary rock, and not sandstone, as was suggested by the museum.

“It is the kind of stone that when you polish it, it takes on a kind of sheen to it,” he said.

Boudreau also said he was hesitant at first to come forward but chose to do so after speaking with an acquaintance.

“I didn’t want to spoil anything for anybody,” he said. “There could be some First Nation attachment to that pillar. It could have just been in the water for so long that it took off every face that was on there that you could describe from the First Nations and that is how it ended up so perfectly rectangular in our water.”

In a statement to CHEK NEWS, the museum said they are trying to reach Boudreau and are working with the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations as well as conservationists to determine its origins.

However, Boudreau said he hadn’t heard from the museum by Sunday afternoon. He said while he likely was the one who made the carvings, he hopes there is some First Nations connection to the pillar.

“I would still like to lend to the idea that it could have actually been in the hands of First Nations people at one time because it was too perfect,” Boudreau said.

LEFT: An Indigenous stone pillar the Royal BC Museum originally claimed was a rare 100-kilogram Lekwungun ritual sandstone pillar that had been found on a beach near Dallas Road last summer. RIGHT: A photo sent by local carver Ray Boudreau shows a similar-looking pillar. The Royal BC Museum is now reviewing its original claim about the pillar.



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