The controversial cross on top of Mount Tzouhalem is back.
Someone reinstalled the symbol during the past few weeks without permission and no one seems to know who’s responsible.
But the move has once again galvanized some of those with strong opinions on it being there.
Kari Meerman hikes Mount Tzouhalem regularly and on Sunday, she saw a cross once again prominently displayed near the summit.
“I was happy that it was back. I’m more indifferent than anything but I know that there are opposing views,” said Meerman.
Last July, the cross was taken down by a vandal once again igniting debate about whether it should be there. What happened to that cross is unknown, but at some point recently, another one has appeared mounted in the same place.
“It looks exactly the same but the beams are not as thick so it’s thinner. I’m assuming easier to transport to get it up cause the other one was big. I don’t know how someone got it down off of there,” said Meerman.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada owns the land and said in a statement: “This cross was reinstalled by unknown parties on the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Chase Woods Nature Preserve without our involvement or permission.”
A former Nature Conservancy biologist says it was a lot of work when the non-profit helped reinstall the cross in 2015.
“The leadership of Cowichan Tribes at the time approached me and asked if we would put it back and so with that impetus we decided sure, why not?” said Tim Ennis.
Ennis says it would’ve taken multiple people to reinstall it this latest time.
Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour says he missed the cross being up at the summit, and another Tribes member says there have been numerous crosses there over the decades.
“My elders and my other colleagues from St. Ann’s church explained how in the 1960s there’s a wooden one that was brought up there by my great-great-grandpa Able Joe,” said D’Arcy Joe.
Joe says while he supports the cross being there, it’s once again dividing the community.
“There’s a lot of bitterness but also people are grateful that it’s there too,” said Joe.
How the cross has been reinstalled this latest time remains a mystery, one the nature conservancy is investigating.