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The Talking Rock on Hwy 16 reflects love and resistance during Pride month

The Talking Rock is nestled between Fort St. James and Vanderhoof on Highway 16

Nestled between Fort St. James and Vanderhoof on Highway 16, there's a landmark that's not just a geological oddity but a canvas for community expression. 
Fondly known as the Talking Rock, this seven-foot-tall boulder has been a fixture for decades, adorned with messages of love, hope, inspiration, and sometimes humour, courtesy of local residents.

Older community members have hundreds of photos, collected over the years, of the painting and messages on the rock changing. 
Recently, as Pride Month unfolded, the Talking Rock underwent a vibrant transformation with rainbow hues painted on it. The artist, a Fort St. James resident, Davis Monk, has been painting the rock annually for Pride Month since 2022.
Monk said it is simply about spreading love during Pride Month and encouraging people to express themselves freely, rather than feeling confined by societal expectations.

Monk says his message of acceptance is significant as they’re in a  conservative atmosphere, sandwiched between two communities where religious sentiments are stronger.

However, Monk's artwork did not endure. Despite the heartfelt intentions, his painting was erased within three to four hours, courtesy of passers by. The rock was repainted with messages asserting religious beliefs. 

Monk said he went back the next morning and repainted it only for someone to erase it again and paint it white. But then someone else went and painted a rainbow heart on the white paint. 

“It's kind of funny, really,” he says about the back and forth, adding he was glad to see some kind of pushback at the end. 

As for why it's called the Talking Rock, Monk is not entirely sure. He has seen the fixture all his life, spanning over 25 years. 
Growing up, his mother and aunt always referred to it that way, encouraging them to read the messages painted on it as they passed by the road.
The rock has always been a focal point for community expression - from birthday wishes to memorial tributes, wedding announcements to messages of love and support, he said.
“We had someone two weeks ago paint, ‘I love you more than 50,000 sockeye salmon’ on the rock.” 
On the occasion of Pride Month and Men’s Health month this June, Monk says the Talking Rock will always be there, as an expression item for all communities to access. 

About the Author: Binny Paul

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