Carrie Underwood blew away a packed house in Prince George B1
Big North FREE PRESS
Bond back, Morris new face in Victoria TERESA MALLAM email@example.com
Four more years. Four more years. That is how 200 or more Liberal supporters at Coast Inn of the North on the evening of May 14 greeted Prince George-Valemont MLA elect Shirley Bond as she walked through the doors. Moments after they heard analysts’ prediction of a Liberal sweep, Bond and Mike Morris, MLA elect for Prince GeorgeMackenzie, took their places on the podium to express their gratitude. Bond had tears in her eyes as she thanked family and supporters. Noting it would be her fourth term in office, she said some people might think, “you had to be out of your mind” to run a fourth time. She explained why she did, first crediting her family. “I’ll tell you why I put my name on the ballot for the fourth time... I have an unbelievable family, a husband who has been with me every step of the way,” she said, turning to face Bill Bond. “I have a son and daughter, son-in-law – and two amazing grandsons who drive me to do a better job all the time.” Smiling broadly, she asked: “You know what tonight is about? Tonight is about never, ever giving up. If we had believed in those [pre-election] polls instead of believing in ourselves where would we be tonight?” Bond credited people on the phones (the volunteers) with their hard work during the election campaign and scoffed at the naysayers, noting one local reporter predicted to national
media that she had a three in 10 chance of being elected. She never doubted her team or their ability, she said. “I have a superb campaign team.” Still, she said, she was surprised as anyone when the results came in showing that Liberals were enjoying a widespread win in provincial ridings. “When I saw BCTV predict a B.C. Liberal government, I could barely believe it myself,” she said. Given their new mandate, Bond said she and Morris look forward to doing their jobs as elected representatives. “Mike and I love where we live,” she said. Bond reminded people that both will work hard to represent all their constituents, not just the ones who voted for them. “You serve your entire constituency,” she said. Looking out at the happy faces in the crowd, she paused and smiled. “I want to just humbly say thank you.” Bond acknowledged former Prince George-Mackenzie MLA Pat Bell and gave a shout out to the man standing head and shoulders above others in the crowd. “I’m going to miss my friend Pat Bell.” she said, amid loud applause for the outgoing MLA who had often shared the podium and “short and tall” jokes with her for special community events. She also referred to her long held political position representing Prince George and on her personal popularity. “My heart is full of gratitude,” she said. “Not many people get to serve in this province for four
terms.” For his part, Morris said he’s aware he has big shoes to fill (a reference to Bell) and he looks forward to being Bond’s political partner in the Legislature. Noting people asked him why he was jumping aboard a “sinking ship”, Morris said, “This ship isn’t sinking.” Morris said he intends to work “shoulder to shoulder” with Shirley to drive the engine for the future. “I want to make sure this province is in good hands ... so I’m going to do my best for the next four years to make sure that happens.”
REACTION There were many well known political pundits and local luminaries in the crowd Tuesday night. Former Social Credit cabinet minister Bruce Strachan stayed close to the TV monitor. He checked his watch. He looked at the numbers on the screen: Liberals 40, NDP 22. He stood up and clapped his hands together. “The trend is your friend,” he noted. “I said that at 8:33 p.m.” From then on the mood in the room that was already hopeful was even more buoyant and upbeat. People began spilling through the doors. They laughed, they exchanged hugs and handshakes. Liberal supporters knew this was going to be their night. “Looks like we’re going to have a Liberal government – we need it. There is so much turmoil,” said supporter Felicia Constantinescu. And when the numbers hit 50 for the Liberals, shortly after Te re s a M A LLA M / Fre e Pre s s
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Shirley Bond celebrates the news May 14 that she won her fourth consecutive term as MLA in Prince George.
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BIG NORTH FREE PRESS - JUNE 2013
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BIG NORTH FREE PRESS - JUNE 2013
Christy Clark on election win and polls
Clark added she wasn’t as surprised as others said they
“I think the TV debate changed the momentum. While I was travelling, I felt British Columbians keying in on message, thinking about the economy. When the debate happened, it gave a chance for British Columbians to compare and contrast all of the leaders. About a million people
Liberal supporters cheering from PAGE A1
CLARK ON ENBRIDGE As of May15, Clark had received congratulatory calls from a few other party leaders, including the prime minister. She said they spoke briefly about the election as well as polls, but didn’t discuss the Enbridge file. She said support for the proposed pipeline is mixed across the province, and not an issue only to northerners. “A lot of people have profound concerns,” she said. “I do. We were involved in cross examination with the Joint Review Panel, and it hasn’t been encouraging for us.” However things proceed on that note she said the five conditions placed on heavy oil projects in the province will not change. “The five conditions aren’t going to change,” she said. “Any expansion in heavy oil is going have to meet those conditions.”
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9 p.m. someone yelled, “They’re way ahead. They’re going to do it.” And they did. At approximately 9:37 a Liberal government was declared – just one and a half hours after the polls closed. Small contractor David Kienzle who is also a search and rescue volunteer, also watched the monitor with interest. A win for the Liberals tonight – and he CHAMBER OF COMMERCE ................... 890 Vancouver Street • 1-250.562-2454 could breathe a sigh of CITY OF PRINCE GEORGE .......................... 1100 Patricia Blvd • 1-250.561-7600 relief, he said. “It is very important TOURISM PRINCE GEORGE ..........................1300 1st Avenue • 1-250.562-3700 for the Liberals to get INITIATIVES PRINCE GEORGE ............. 201-1300 1st Avenue • 1-250.564-0282 in for their policies respecting the Forestry SERVICE BC ........................................................................... • 1-250.565-4488 area because there’s a HELLO BC (TOURISM BC) ...................................................... • 1-800.435-5622 lot less paperwork and www.pgchamber.bc.ca www.ticketmaster.ca more results in what www.pgfreepress.com www.princegeorge.ca gets done with the Liberals.” Under an NDP www.tourismpg.com www.pgairport.ca government, things get www.getawaybc.com www.gopg.ca bogged down, he said. www.afterhours.org INFO ON BRITISH COLUMBIA Also watching for www.pgso.com results was volunwww.nbctourism.com teer coordinator Carla www.theatrenorthwest.com www.hellobc.com Hamborg. Strong Libwww.pgtw.bc.ca www.bclocalnews.com eral supporter and www.netbistro.com business person Mon-
we get a chance to protect the economy of B.C., and I’ll find a way into the house if the votes go that way.”
ica Peacock who appeared in a campaign ad for her chosen party said a Liberal win means the province can move ahead in the right direction. “I believe in consistency because it brings progress and that’s what the Liberals offer. So many people say they don’t like change, I believe what we have now is strong – and it works. You can’t please all the people, all the time.”
Although travelling extensively during the campaign to spread the Liberal message gave her a strong sense of what concerned the people of the province, it also meant spending fewer hours than she normally would have campaigning in her own riding, one that historically has been a close call. This included being absent from an all-candidates forum. However, the important thing is they won the war, Clark said. “We won on the economy,” she said, adding she has no regrets. “At the end of the day
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CLARK ON WHY THE LIBERALS WON
CLARK ON WHY SHE LIKELY LOST HER RIDING
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on the same plan,” she said. “It’s a fantastic balance of fresh eyes and renewal combined with wisdom and experience.” That team is made up of many candidates who formerly served as municipal leaders, men and women she convinced to run in spite of pollsters predicting a clear NDP win. “I told them this is the most important election in history coming up, and you have a duty to step up. That’s what I told them,” she said. “They are all people with a strong sense of public service.”
watched it. “I think that had an impact on the momentum. She added the NDP stance on the Kinder Morgan project also likely played a part, leaving people with the idea the NDP would say no to a project with so much economic potential without even seeing it. “I think being clear about where you stand is important,” she added.
Although the Liberals won the election, leader Christy Clark lost her seat to NDP rival, David Eby. However with the votes so close she said any decisions made based on the repercussions of that will happen after all the ballots have been counted May 27. In the Vancouver-Point Grey riding, Eby has 785 votes more than Clark. “It’s too early to speculate on the results of the election,” she said in a phone interview with the Free Press May 15, adding the final tallies will be in May 27. “There were a few close ridings.” Right now, she added, a clear mandate has been given the Liberals by the people of British Columbia, and it’s time to get down to the business of government. She planned to meet with the newly minted MLAs the followingweek. After the group gets together, she will meet with each individually. She said the legislature will likely commence sometime after it becomes clear whether or not she will need to run in a by-election. “Legislature will be after I find a way into the House would be my best guess,” she said. Clark agreed it will be easier to govern now, with her own team in place and said she came into office during a period of turmoil. The new team is made up of 25 seasoned MLAs and 25 new to the job. “One advantage is they all want to be there. They all fought hard, and all have agreed we are
were at the election results. She added the only vote that counts is the one on election day, and asking people who they plan to vote for months before an election is comparable to asking someone what they want for dinner a month in advance. “Pollsters don’t get to choose the government. The people get to choose the government, and the people of B.C. were heard. It could be what polls are telling us is accurate, but they’re asking the wrong question. They ask how you are going to vote two months from now, and the answer has little relevance,” Clark said. “People answer pollsters because they were asked a question. In the end they made a choice based on what future they want for the province.”
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The Lincoln nameplate has long been associated with Ford products. In fact, over the years some Lincoln cars and trucks were derivatives of Ford vehicles. This is no longer the case, as Ford revives its Lincoln brand by offering totally distinct cars and by bringing back the Lincoln Motor Co. moniker. The very first luxury car to be offered under that name is the all-new MKZ mid-sized sedan, available with fourcylinder, six-cylinder, or hybrid engine. This sedan will be sold on Ford lots, where buyers will also find quite a few other Lincolns, such as the MKX, the big MKS sedan, the CUV MKT, and the traditional Navigator. Of course those same dealers will also have the latest Ford products as well, including the unique C-Max, a compact SUV available only in the
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BIG NORTH FREE PRESS - JUNE 2013
etired MLA Pat Bell wasn’t a member of the Liberal Party a dozen years ago and wasn’t considering politics when friends approached him to encourage him to run for office.
Twelve years in the spotlight
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“They thought I could do a good job representing the interests of the community, and they approached me,” he said, adding at first he wasn’t interested. But the more he considered it, the more it seemed like a good idea. His wife, Brenda, told him they complained about politics and politicians, so maybe it was time to step forward. Taking up the challenge Bell put his name forward and won the riding. He added the Liberal Party appeals to him because its principles are based on the importance of free enterprise. “Human motivation is an amazing thing,” he said. “It helps people achieve the best outcomes in business and athletics. I think one of the challenges of the NDP is their approach does not drive or motivate people. They want to spread wealth across everyone, and when you do that, motivation is lost. Personal motivation is what it takes to be successful. If you work harder and put in the effort, you will benefit greater than someone who doesn’t.” That principle, he said, is core to his personal beliefs, and it leads to an economy strong enough to support a healthy social system. “I think that wealth created in any jurisdiction creates an environment that supports those who need it, health care, the environment and an education system.” He added during all his years in Victoria, he had not met a single individual who doesn’t care about those things, however personal political philosophies dictate the method to achieve those goals. “The method varies between different people,” he said. “How to do it differs. When I think about people who sat in opposition, I would bet on average we agree on 90 to 95 per cent of what
goes on in society, unfortunately in the political world people concentrate on points that are different. The motivation is similar, but the method varies as to what outcome is achieved.” Bell said he believes understanding competitiveness is key. One of his core beliefs is B.C. is competing against the world to attract investment and jobs, and the wealth that comes with that. “I am not sure the NDP understands that in the way I believe it exists,” Bell said. He added that is why the Liberals excel at building the economy. Bell said for his first two years as an MLA he was just finding his way around the legislature. For the first two and a half years he was the deputy whip, meaning it was his job to make sure people got where they needed to be so votes would pass. Then he became the minister sitting for mining, his first foray into cabinet, where he got to write the mining plan the province is still working under. “Geo-science B.C. came out of it,” he said. “And the Smithers School of Mining, two very positive steps.” In 2005, he was Minister of Agriculture and Lands. Again, he helped forge an agricultural plan for the province that is still used today. When it came to negotiating a land use agreement for the Great Bear Rain Forest, he brought all the stakeholders involved together under one tent. The move, and the positive conclusion of that, made front-page news all over Europe and North America, and is something he regards as one of his most significant
accomplishments. It was also an act they received a Gift to the Planet award under the World Wildlife Foundation. He then repeated the same thing at Haida Gwaii. “I got to know the First Nations well,” he said. “I feel we brought stability to the islands. They are now harvesting large amounts of timber again. The economy there really stabilized and improved.” In 2008 he took on the forestry portfolio, and targeted the Chinese market very quickly. The work paid off and while previously lumber went for $128 per 1,000 board feet, it recently peaked at $460. “Most people argue China made that happen. Now it represents about 30 per cent of sales.” Bell said a lot of work had already been done with China when he stepped into that position, leaving him a good founda-
tion to work on. Then the CEO’s of certain forest companies encouraged him to make a trades trip to the country, something he agreed to with the caveat each of them had to go as well. They did, and Bell said most would argue that was integral to their success. “In China, it’s a completely different way you do business,” Bell said. “Government officials are important. They blur the line between government and business.” He added altogether he completed eight trade missions to China. “China has given us real stability in the market place, adding another customer,” he said. However, it wasn’t something that happened overnight. After 18 months, the first time someone from the Liberal government began working towards the goal of selling B.C. timber
to China, there was no change in the market place. Bell said they were still working on the fundamentals, the building code, distribution and education. With no real success to show, they could have pulled out but instead stuck with the plan.
“If we had pulled out then, we’d probably be in the same place today. These things take time. If I have one bit of advice to whoever follows me, it is you have to give plans and strategies time to work. “There is no instant success, and if give them time, if they are well-founded and built on good principles, the outcomes is good. “Provincial, municipal and First Nations governments are based on four year, two year and one cycles, That tends to drive short term decision making instead of long term planning.” He added the jobs plan, created when he served as jobs minister, will benefit the province long-term, and he’s pleased Premier Christy Clark is dedicated to the
plan, willing to see it through. Though Bell has retired due to health issues, he remains a dedicated Liberal, working hard behind the scenes during the recent campaign, supporting both local candidates, including Shirley Bond, a woman he said he admires as one of the hardest-working politicians in Victoria and someone he is happy to call a friend. If past protocol is a hint of future behaviour, Bell may be called upon to serve the Liberals again, this time as a private resident of B.C. He said he may do that, if called upon, but it will be as a contractor. He added neither he nor Brenda are interested in moving to Victoria. Both are committed to living in Prince George.
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BIG NORTH FREE PRESS - JUNE 2013
Relay for Life tops half-million mark Prince George officially has a half-million-dollar Relay For Life. Trevor Patenaude, leadership chair of the Prince George Relay For Life committee, announced during the closing ceremony on May 12 that the event raised $500,000. â€œWe set out on this to be No. 1 in Canada,â€? he told the crowd, which included relay participants, sponsors and organizers. â€œPrince George has always done relay, pound for pound, better than anyone else. Weâ€™re the only 24-hour relay in Canada [and we said] weâ€™ll take on Winnipeg, weâ€™ll take on Edmonton, weâ€™ll take on Calgary, weâ€™ll take on Vancouver, weâ€™ll take on Canada. So Canada, the time for talk is over. Prince George says three words â€“ â€˜Just bring it!â€™â€?
It was a fine day for a walk May 11 as participants and their supporters took to the track at Masich Stadium for the Relay for Life, earning funds to go towards finding a cure for cancer. De Ly nd a PILON/ Fre e Pre s s
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est fundraiser, was held at Masich Place Stadium from 10 a.m. May 11 to 10 a.m. May
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12. More than 1,500 people registered to participate and count-
less others showed up at the track over the course of the weekend to show their support. Money raised from the various Relay For Life events across Canada is put toward cancer prevention and research and is also used to assist people who are living with the disease. Locally, donations will continue to be accepted until July. Donations can be brought to the Canadian Cancer Society office, located at 1100 Alward Street, or can be made online at www.relaybc.ca. Simply select â€˜Prince Georgeâ€™ from the drop-down menu at the top right of the page. At the 2012 Prince George Relay For Life, the announced total on the Sunday was
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$420,000. In the weeks that followed, another $74,000 rolled in. That total â€“ $494,000 â€“ was the second-highest in Canada, behind only Coquitlam, which raised $550,000. Helen Owen, Team Lead, Relay For Life, was overseeing her second relay in Prince George. Owen said sheâ€™s â€œblown awayâ€? by the amount of money raised so far. â€œI just canâ€™t believe the community spirit that we have and the generosity,â€? Owen said. â€œThe sponsors and the people that came on board in the last six months â€“ and especially in the last couple of months â€“ is heartwarming. It inspires me. â€œIn my dreams, this is exactly where I wanted to be on this day. And I know
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this community will continue to support. Iâ€™ve got donations still coming in and itâ€™s not too late for people to support this event.â€? One of the highlights of the weekend was a draw for a 2013 Dodge Dart, donated by Northland Chrysler Jeep Dodge. For every $500 a registered relay participant raised, he or she had one ticket placed in the draw barrel. Ultimately, 200 people met the eligibility requirement. The winner of the car was Jeff Taylor, who raised $1,848.12 â€“ the 12 cents donated by a seven-year-old who gave him the loose change in her piggybank. Taylor was one of more than 20 people who registered to walk all 24 hours of the relay and he accomplished his goal. Several other prizes were also handed out during this year â€™s relay, the 21st annual in Prince George. Liana Ziemer of the Pink Panters team was the top individual fundraiser. Ziemer raised $10,560 and, for her efforts, received a voucher courtesy of Uniglobe Travel for a trip for two anywhere in the world. Others winners included: Shelby McGraw of Daddyâ€™s Little Angels (top youth fundraiser, $1,917.50, trip for four to Jasper on Via Rail); Team Diller (top family team, $17,354.87, Prince George Spruce Kings package and a $200 gift card from Mr. Mikes Steakhouse); Costco Crusaders (top corporate team, $12,000.85, Prince George Spruce Kings package and a $200 gift card from Nancy Oâ€™s Restaurant); Team Diller (team spirit award, Prince George Spruce Kings package and swim passes); Team Horseshoes (best-decorated tent, $100 gift card from Mr. Mikes Steakhouse); Team Peterbilt Pacific (team rally draw, Prince George Spruce Kings package); and Kimi Ward (24-hour relayer draw, $100 gift card from Mr. Mikes Steakhouse). Finally, Dean Friend was the winner of a WestJet travel voucher raffle. Friend won a return trip for two to any scheduled WestJet destination.
BIG NORTH FREE PRESS - JUNE 2013
BIG NORTH A7
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BIG NORTH FREE PRESS - JUNE 2013
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More than 200 students from the College of New Caledonia were at CN Centre on May 25 to receive certificates and diplomas. Outgoing president John Bowman says convocation is a major step for the students. “This is a major personal achievement and huge milestone for our graduates,” Bowman said in a press release. “The goals, dreams and aspirations that motivated them to enrol at CNC are nearing fruition. In as little as 10 months, they have turned their lives around.” This year marked the first graduating class from the Medical Radiography Technology Diploma program, a two-year program introduced in 2011. Bowman pointed out the number of students present at the ceremony was not reflective of the number of students at CNC. “The number of students who are partici-
pating in this year’s convocation is only a fraction of those who actually graduate every year. Many cannot participate because of work or other commitments.” The Mary John Award of Excellence, given to a student who strives to live with Edna Cameron dignity while serving - Mary John Award others and their community, went to Edna Cameron of the Takla Lake First Nation in Fort St. James. Cameron was in Vancouver with her grandson and was unable to attend the ceremony.
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BIG NORTH A9
BIG NORTH FREE PRESS - JUNE 2013
Students get a taste of real heavy metal DELYNDA PILON firstname.lastname@example.org
About a quarter of the youth who take the Heavy Metal Rocks program go on to choose a career in the trades. In fact, many students like Darcy O’Carroll, a 17-year-old College Heights youth, never considered pursuing the trades until taking the four-day course. Bruce Clarke, regional prevention manager with WorkSafeBC, said the program started as a heavy-duty course in Vanderhoof then expanded to Prince George. Now it’s available in Williams Lake, Kamloops, Kelowna, Sparwood and on the Island. “It’s been so successful here,” he said. “We’ll see if it expands across the province.” May 4 was graduation day for the 31 students who took the course out of Prince George this year. With barbecue waiting for them on the grill, students showed proud parents just what they’d learned to do in the few days they were guided through operating the gigantic expensive machines, some with a price tag of about a half million dollars. “The first day on the excavator I was terrible,” O’Carroll said. “Today I felt pretty good.” O’Carroll was practising accuracy on the crane she was operating, under the supervision of Rhett Humphries, one of the volunteer instructors on the site. “If they had this when I went to school I would have went straight to cranes,” Humphries, currently with Sterling Crane, though he started out as a welder, said, adding his approval of the program. “Other than here, who would let them get into a half million dollar piece of equipment?” he asked. The key to the success of the program is two-fold, Clarks said. One major factor
is inciting the interest of Grade 11 and 12 students, who write an essay explaining why they want to take the program. O’Carroll said she learned about Heavy Metal Rocks during a classroom presentation. Interest piqued, she wrote her essay. From those essays, just over 30 students are chosen to take part. The second key is the sponsors. Equipment like the crane O’Carroll operated, excavators and scaffolding are expensive tools, and like Humphries said, it is unusual for a youth to get a hands-on experience with any of them. However Clarke pointed out the dozens of sponsors who are keen to support a program which is bringing new interest in the trades to students. The instructors are also all We’ve volunteers. Clarke said a few of them are alumni of the program itself, enjoying the experience and how it helped open new career opportunities for them so much they give back by sharing their expertise with a new generation of students. Clarke pointed out that without sponsors, the program can fall by the wayside. It ran for 35 years in Vanderhoof, the golden child of just one sponsor. When that person retired, so did the program. “For something like this to be a success, it has to be taken on by the community,” Clarke said. The first day is all about safety. Clarke said the Con-
struction Association puts the kids through the provincial course, allowing them to enter a construction site. A panel discussion gives participants a better look into what the future holds for them if they choose to pursue the trades as a career. “The last days they run equipment,”
Clarke said. “The course gives young people an opportunity to get an idea if this is the kind of work they want to get into.” “There is so much out there I didn’t think about,” O’Carroll agreed, saying her time in the program has put a few new possibilities on the table when it comes to choosing a career.
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Darcy O’Carroll, a 17-year-old student at College Heights Secondary was one of the participants in Heavy Metal Rocks, which wrapped up on the weekend with a barbecue.
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A10 BIG NORTH
BIG NORTH FREE PRESS - JUNE 2013
Chris Opio does some textbook work TERESA MALLAM email@example.com
Not too many people can say they are in company with â€“ or on the same page â€“ as envi-
ronmental giants Lindsay Williams and Dr. David Suzuki. But Dr. Chris Opio, a professor at UNBC, has such an honour. He and his humani-
tarian work in Uganda are represented in an advanced school text book (Oxford) called Creating Meaning â€“ Reading and Writing for the Canadian
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Classroom. His picture, biography and amazing story of how in 2007 he founded the Northern Uganda Development Foundation (NUDF) to raise money to build healthy water wells in Uganda is all outlined in the book. Students read the material and then respond to questions in the workbook. Opio, who just received his own copy last month, says heâ€™s proud to be part of the publication. â€œI hope it will be a good learning tool for students to show them that one person â€“ and a team â€“ can make a big difference in the lives of less fortunate people,â€? he said. â€œI feel very honoured by their recognition of the work we are doing.â€? The book published in March last year is used in classrooms, advanced level ESL students preparing for academic studies and home schooling across Canada. In the bookâ€™s introductory paragraph on Opio it says: â€œWhere thereâ€™s a well thereâ€™s a way. A Canadian helps Africans tap into better health. Vivid memories of the dirty, unsafe water his family drank to survive, and the preventable deaths of so many from water-borne illnesses, inspired Dr. Chris Opio professor of forestry at the University of Northern British Columbia, to find a way to help the people of his native
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the book is on reading, writing, critical thinking and vocabulary development. Each of the 10 chapters is organized around a theme that is current and of high interest. Creating Meaning is intended to be used by students who are either learning English in a Canadian context or are interested in learning more about Canada.
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NUDF in a widely-used Canadian student text book a proud achievement. Creating Meaning Advanced, Reading and Writing for the Canadian Classroom, Second Edition by Kathy Block and Hannah Hofer Friesen, is published by Oxford University Press Canada. According to Oxford University Press website the focus of
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Dr. Chris Opio with the classroom textbook in which he is featured in a chapter about his work with NUDF helping people in Uganda.
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Uganda gain access to clean and safe water.â€? Now he spends time â€“ mostly from Prince George â€“ working for a better life for those in the poverty-stricken village in northern Uganda where he grew up. About 30 wells have been built since NUDF was formed. Opio immigrated to Canada in 1982 and although heâ€™s received much personal recognition for his humanitarian efforts, he says it is for the people in the villages and for their hope and striving for a better future that he does the work. In addition to the year-round raising funds for the building of wells, Opio has worked in the areas of improved village farming practices, health education and small business enterprises in partnership with local people. NUDF also has a program where people can buy goats for villagers who then have a means of supporting themselves and their families. Presently, NUDF is fundraising with a June 1 dinner and auction to raise money for the completion of a community centre with a medical facility and housing for its volunteer staff of doctors and nurses. In all his work, education is key, says Opio who in 2012, was presented with the Distinguished Academic Award. So it is not surprising that he considers the inclusion of his story and the work of
BIG NORTH A11
BIG NORTH FREE PRESS - JUNE 2013
■ FIRST NATIONS
Truth and reconciliation in Prince George Local groups want residential-school stories to be heard by public DELYNDA PILON firstname.lastname@example.org
Their stories are similar, each tempered with horror and laced with pain. Many have heard the statistics and been given brief dispassionate descriptions of the horrors perpetrated at residential schools, but the story changes from one hidden in the pages of history to something real with echoing consequences when told by those who still dream of the cruelty and abuse they survived. In early May, the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, Carrier Sekani Family Services and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission invited members of the public to listen in on testimonies being told at the Civic Centre by survivors of the residential school system. One survivor said what he remembers most is the train ride to the school and the dozens of tiny faces pressed up against the windows when it wound its way into the station at 5:30 on
morning in 1957 to take him to residential school. “Every window was filled with kids’ faces,” he said. “It reminds me of the German war movies. I can’t watch those movies.” He said he was forced to help bury people while in residential schools, and though many have said there is no evidence of bodies, he insists it happened and that he is not the only witness. Ronald French remembers when they came to pick him and his brothers and sisters up to put them on a plane bound for the now infamous Lejac Indian Residential School. But, to French, the systematic abuse started even before the residential schools were instituted. “All these residential school issues didn’t start in Lejac. They started on reserves in schools the priests were running,” he said. “They were part of the same system.” He said listening to others speak of their experience at the schools have opened old wounds for him. “It’s not easy to sit here and
hear people’s stories.” He said living through the residential school experience affected his entire life. “It has destroyed me. It has taken my family. It has taken my wife. It has taken a lot of things from me. I got into drugs and alcohol,” he said. Eventually he managed to get clean. “We are all survivors. Every one of us survive in different ways to bury what hurts you most,” he said. “I had anger. I tried as best as I could not to let the anger take over, but I’ve said and done hurtful things.” He added he’s heard it said forgiveness will set you free. “That’s a hard thing to deal with as a residential school survivor, or if you’ve been abused.” Larry Dominick attended residential school from 1972 through 1976. Dominick had a rocky family life and wound up being in the care of his aunt when he was three. One day a car pulled up and the ladies in it said ‘we’re here to pick up the boys’.
“Auntie and Uncle said no.” But the ladies insisted, promising Dominick they were taking him to a good place. To this day that promise leaves a sour taste in his mouth. During his years in residential school, Dominick faced abuse of every sort. His hair was pulled over and over again. He almost lost an earlobe. He was spanked with a leather belt for speaking to his brothers, for using their language, something that was not allowed. “You think I know any of this language now?” he asked. At night they slept like prisoners, he said, stacked in bunk beds with narrow aisles between them. At night, people would come and check if a child had peed the bed. If so he was thrown off the bed then forced to strip it. “There is so much shame. A lot of times I feel really shameful for talking about this,” he said. Vivian Tom also spoke of the difficulties of her childhood, but her testimony had a slightly different purpose. Tom’s daughter,
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Destiny, who was killed a few months ago, her brutally beaten body discovered on the Nautley First Nations reserve. She said Destiny got into an abusive relationship, one she stayed in for five years. “On March 23 they found her badly beaten body. I screamed and said it’s not her, I’m not going to believe it’s her until I see it with my own eyes,” Tom said Tom was told her daughter left a party that evening with her common-law husband. She didn’t seem to want to go and was described as frightened. Though the common-law partner was picked up and questioned, he was released for lack of evidence. Last night Tom said she knew someone knows what happened that night and who is responsible. Pleading with the survivors of residential schools, she said some of them were parents or grandparents of those responsible, and she asked them to come forward with any information.
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BIG NORTH FREE PRESS - JUNE 2013