formerly Kuper Island
The Southern Gulf Islands, including Kuper.
|• MLA||Doug Routley(New Democratic Party)|
|Time zone||PST (UTC−8)|
|• Summer (DST)||PDT (UTC−7)|
Penelakut Island, formerly known as Kuper Island and renamed in 2010 in honour of the Penelakut First Nation people, is located in the southern Gulf Islands between Vancouver Island and the mainland Pacific coast of British Columbia, Canada. The island has a population of about 300 members of the Penelakut Band. The island has an area of 8.66 square kilometres (3.34 sq mi). There is frequent car and passenger ferry service to Penelakut from Chemainus on Vancouver Island.
A Mediterranean climate of mild winters and warm, dry summers supports a unique ecosystem and an ideal living environment. The island is in the rain shadow of Vancouver Island, with an annual rainfall of about 850 millimetres (33 in). There is a Roman Catholic Church and a longhouse, but no commercial establishments on the island. From 1890 to 1978, the Catholic Church had a Residential School on the island, and there is still much bitterness over its brutal practices . The present comprehensive school is run by the Penelakut. Because it is an Indian reserve, property is not available for purchase. (There is one private lot dating from the events of 1863).
British sailors surveying the area in 1851 cruised into a tiny group of five unnamed islands in the Strait of Georgia, naming the two largest Kuper and Thetis, after their Captain Augustus Leopold Kuper R.N. (1809–1885) and his frigate, HMS Thetis, a 36-gun Royal Navy frigate on the Pacific Station between 1851 and 1853.
On April 20, 1863, the British gunboat HMS Forward attacked the native village on the then-named Kuper Island. The captain believed that the village harboured individuals of the separate Lamalchi tribe involved in two recent assaults in the Gulf Islands in which three Europeans had been murdered. The gunboat fired on the village but, unprepared for a naval landing, was repulsed with one casualty after a fierce battle with a handful of warriors. Following this defeat, the colonial government responded with one of the largest military operations in British Columbia's history, which took place on the east coast of Vancouver Island and extended throughout the waters and islands of Active Pass, Trincomali Channel and Stuart Channel. In the end, the government publicly hanged four natives in Victoria.