Gerry Hof was so proud of the welding and painting he put into the towering metal cross raised atop Mount Tzouhalem.
But the pride Hof has felt in the landmark, which had been raised by dozens, and reached for on hikes over the years, was replaced with shock Sunday when he learned it had been cut down.
“It’s just disappointing that people think that these kinds of things help, that this kind of vandalism helps, whether somebody is burning churches or damaging totem poles, or pulling down a cross, it doesn’t help,” said Hof, a Cowichan Bay resident and avid volunteer in the Cowichan Valley.
Photos began circulating on social media over the weekend, showing where the large cross had been cut, and just a small piece of metal was left behind.
“It was a deliberate act, if you look at one of the pictures you can see someone used a grinder to cut the metal,” North Cowichan mayor Al Siebring told CHEK News on Sunday.
The date that the incident happened is unclear, and according to RCMP they still haven’t received an official complaint.
“Who knows who’s responsible it could be just anybody,” said Hof.
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The cross’s removal is just the latest high-profile vandalism — from the toppling of statues to the burning of churches — that has been on the rise since the discoveries of hundreds of unmarked graves at residential schools.
Cowichan Tribes Coun. Stephanie Atleo urged for an end to the vandalism Monday.
“Right now it’s vandalism. Right now it’s hurtful to both sides and I don’t think it’s moving awareness and change forward,” said Coun. Stephanie Atleo, who spoke on behalf of the Cowichan Tribes.
Atleo said she fears the vandalism could be escalating.
“It is and I wish people would just stop. And I don’t want these acts of vandalism to take over the story,” she said.
Officials say it’s too early still to decide if a new cross or landmark will be raised on Mount Tzouhalem.
With files from Nicholas Pescod