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PEOPLE

COMMUNITY

C U LT U R E

Skydiving is a headtrip

FALL 2015


ast your lifetime?

Publisher

r savings you can afford to spend ut don’t want to run the risk of

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Alistair Taylor

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Will retirement savings last your lifetime? Willyour your retirement

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PEOPLE

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On the Cover: Tandem jump instructor Darryl Cattell leaps from the Pacific Airsports plane with a skydiving passenger above Campbell River Airport as pilot Keegan Allen looks back. Photo by Scott Gurney

Skydiving is a headtrip

Wave is produced by: Wave magazine is published quarterly by Black Press. The points of view or opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher of Wave. The contents of Wave magazine are protected by copyright, including the designed advertising. Reproduction is prohibited without written consent of the publisher.

[2] WAVE MAGAZINE | FALL 2015


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Bridge over

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Teen finds home — and family — in Killer Whales swimming club

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Full Circle with 10 Coming Balance Equestrian

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Bridge over troubled water Story by J.R. Rardon

Since being discovered near a dumpster as an infant in China, Ian Ralston has had plenty of reason to feel he's been left high and dry. But he may finally have found a home — and a family — in the water. Despite a debilitating and painful condition which makes even walking a daunting effort, the 15-year-old Carihi student has nonetheless found athletic success. One of the top para swimmers in B.C., Ralston is coming off a recent appearance in the Western Canada Summer Games and has his sights set on the Canadian Paralympic trials for the 2016 games in Brazil. "My goals are to compete in the Pan-Am Games, the Commonwealth Games, the Canadian Nationals and the World Championships," Ralston said with a grin that quickly appears every time he discusses swimming. "I want to do it all." Just a few short years ago, Ralston hardly wanted to do anything. Brought to Canada after his adoption in China by Roy Ralston and Linda Jay, the youngster struggled with the language and two club feet, which made him the butt of jokes among his new classmates. "Kids have picked on me since I came

[6] WAVE MAGAZINE | FALL 2015

Ian Ralston powers his way through the butterfly during a Killer Whales Swim Club workout at Strathcona Gardens. The 15-year-old plans to compete in the Canadian Paralympic Trials in 2016. to Canada," said Ralston. "I didn't speak the language. I looked different. They'd say, 'Here comes the chicken-leg kid.' It makes me feel self-conscious." In time, it also placed a substantial chip on his shoulder.

His parents enrolled him in gymnastics for a year after bringing him to Vancouver Island, and he later tried hockey — an experiment that was aborted after six months. "That wasn't working," he said. "When it


Teen para swimmer finds home - and family in Killer Whales swimming club

Eventually, Ralston joined the Campbell River Killer Whales swim team, but despite gradual improvement and some age-group success, it took him several years to overcome his lax attitude and occasional flights of rebellion. "I was like, 'Too hard; I'm out of here,'" said Ralston, who would periodically just climb out of the pool and walk away from practices. When he didn't, his disruptive behaviour often caused his coaches to throw up their hands in frustration and ask him to leave the pool, he said. When former Canadian National Team swimmer Darryl Rudolph arrived to coach the Killer Whales three years ago, he recognized in Ralston a latent talent but also saw a troubled youngster that would need encouragement and, frankly, a little push if he intended to make a future in the sport. "When I first got here, I was ready to quit," said Rudolph. "And people were ready to say, 'See ya.' "But he stuck it out, worked on his attitude and applied himself to improving."

came to skating, I couldn't keep up." Swimming offered more promise, after he was enrolled in a beginner program through Strathcona's recreational program. Within his first six months he went from his first lesson to Level 4.

In Rudolph and his wife, Sarah, who will join the coaching staff of the club this fall, Ralston found the cornerstone of a supportive network. "With Darryl and Sarah, I got interested in staying for every practice, with no excuses," he said. "The other swimmers and coaches

That technique — and speed — remain somewhat modified by his degenerative club foot condition. Ralston essentially swims using only his upper body. When his club teammates head outside to run in dry-land training, he gathers his stuff and hops on his bike to ride home. "I don't run any more," he said. "And I walk only very short distances. My second-favourite thing after swimming is biking. I love being able to go places and love meeting other people." Orthopedists have told Ralston that the bones in his ankles are deteriorating at a rate that would require ankle and toe surgery by age 30 just to allow him to continue walking. Fortunately, he has managed to schedule a surgery for next spring that will involve moving a tendon from the back of his leg to the front, and which will allow him to wear a much smaller — and more comfortable — orthotic apparatus in his shoes. Ironically, the surgery will immediately follow his competing in the Canadian Paralympic Trials, and will leave him in a wheelchair for five weeks before he embarks on physiotherapy. Even after the surgery, Ralston said, he will not be "normal", and will continue to qualify to swim in the para category.

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"His best shot at the Paralympic Games will probably be 2020," said Rudolph. "But he's earned the chance to compete in the trials next year, and it will be good for him to experience that level of competition. In Canada, swimming is not a high-profile sport, except every four years when it has its day in the sun." And Ralston is finally beginning to enjoy some of those rays with the Killer Whales, after years of fighting back against the perception that he was an outsider without a place in his adoptive homeland.

Rudolph in as the Team BC para swimming coach. "He's got enough ability that he's probably going to be funded by Swimming Canada," said Rudolph. "Right now, I'm mainly working on his attitude. But he's very good-natured, very good-willed, and always wants to help out." When asked about his birth and early childhood, Ralston's easy smile vanishes for a moment.

"I don't know. There is no story," he said, then promptly undermines that claim. "I was "I look different; I walk different," found by a garbage dump." he said. "My attitude was As an infant, he said, he was horrible. It was challenging, discovered by police patrolling fitting in with a group. an unspecified community "But now I feel we're a family. in China. Ralston becomes We spend half the year together; circumspect when asked about that's more time than I spend the international adoption with my family." orphanage he was placed in, In last year's BC Summer except for one memory. Games, Ralston swam to five "There was a pond in the back gold medals. Earlier this year, that they let some of the kids in the B.C. Short-course AAA swim in," he said, the grin championships in Surrey, suddenly returning. "I don't he was the top qualifier in know why, but I always liked the province among para swimmers, earning the berth going there. I loved the feel of to the Western Canada Games the water on my skin. and, in the process, bringing "It felt different. It felt good."

After living with a series of families in both China and Canada, 15-year-old Ian Ralston says he always feels at home in the swimming pool .

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W THE H O S M O Prostate Cancer Awareness By Ingrid Pincott N.D.

Movember is prostate cancer awareness month, where men grow moustaches to create awareness of men’s health. It is a time for men to focus on their health and aim towards prostate cancer prevention. Here are some naturopathic steps: 1. Know your PSA numbers. In spite of the research it is important to keep track of “PSA velocity” ie rate of change over Did you know that Naturopathic Physicians (ND) do physical check ups and PAP smears? Did you know that NDs order lab work? Did you know that NDs have limited prescribing rights in BC? NDs use science based natural medicines that work!

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time so get a PSA when you are young to have in your records. 2. Support detoxification in the body: a. Family history of prostate or breast cancer indicates a genetic risk of inflammatory estrogens in the body. There are detoxification pathways in the body to eliminate estrogens and often in these cases they are compromised. b. Other toxins that are found to cause prostate cancer include heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium and pesticides. Often these toxins are found in the work place. c. Naturopathic medicine offers lifestyle education to reduce the exposure to toxins and individualized detoxification support to help rid the body of these toxins. 3. Nutrients that naturally thin the blood and lower inflammation reduce the risk of cancer. These include fish oils and probiotics. 4. Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols), Vitamin D, selenium and zinc are well studied to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. There is lots of controversy about some of these nutrients so see my articles under “Rebuttals to the Media” where I have addressed this. 5. Foods to include in your lifestyle are: green tea, cooked tomatoes, selenium (brazil nuts and garlic), tumeric, cooked mushrooms (ie enoki). 6. Stopping coffee and gluten have lowered PSA in my clinical practice and exercise enhances circulation to the prostate. For all you men of all ages there is a lot more to do than grow a moustache! FALL 2015 | WAVE MAGAZINE [9]


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Coming

Full C


l Circle

Susan Gosnell, left, with horse Odin and Wanda Gust, with Beaner the pony, take a break at their barn, Balance Equestrian Centre.

Story by Kristen Douglas

You don’t have to have a horse to ride here Childhood friends Susan Gosnell and Wanda Gust have come full circle. The pair met when they were around 12 years old while riding in the Vancouver Pony Club. Fast forward several years later and they’re still participating in the club, albeit in a much different capacity. While the event is the same, the setting is a bit different. Gosnell and Gust having been hosting their own Pony Club in Campbell River at their barn, Balance Equestrian Centre, on the former Shady Stables Property off Shetland Road. It’s a place where kids learn about horse care, sportsmanship, and team work. And everyone is welcome. “You don’t have to have a horse,” Gust says. “It’s something kids can do who don’t have the financial means to do it.” And that exclusivity extends to the entire facility. “You don’t have to have a horse to ride here,” Gosnell adds. “We have amazing school horses that people can learn to ride on – quiet, calm, well-trained and all different sizes.” And while riding lessons can be expensive, Gosnell and Gust don’t want that to hold anyone back. “For our students, they come and they help,” Gust says. “They work and they get a helper discount on their lessons, so it’s another way to be around the horses.” But it’s not just all fun and games – there’s actual work involved. “We really hold them responsible for a doing a good job,” Gosnell says. “And they’re responsible for replacing themselves if they can’t make it. They muck, do waters and feeding, and general clean up of the barn. I joke that the 8-year-olds run the farm but they really do. I haven’t picked up a pitch fork in days.” It’s honest work that Gosnell and Gust know all too well. Both were working students on the mainland when they were fresh out of high school and took part in work to ride programs. Both women were mentored under team Canada FALL 2015 | WAVE MAGAZINE [11]


equestrian members – Gust worked for Mark Laskin who is the current chef d’equip for the Canadian team – in exchange for working around the barn. As teenagers they started teaching others and both became certified instructors. When Shady Stables went up for auction about three years ago, the pair took a leap of faith. “The previous owners had won the lottery so they left town and rented it out for awhile,” Gust says. “Then it was just sitting empty and they wanted to unload it after sitting on the market for awhile, so they put it up for auction.” Gosnell says when the property came

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up it still took awhile to make the decision to jump in with both feet. “It wasn’t something any of us had ever really talked about at all but then Dave (Gosnell’s husband) and I started tossing around the idea and I approached Wanda who was moving back from Vancouver and we thought ‘let’s try it’ and we did up a business plan,” Gosnell says. And the rest, as they say, is history. Balance Equestrian is hopping, seven days a week – there’s rarely any down time. Gosnell and Gust both teach beginner to advanced lessons with a focus on hunter/jumper/dressage.

Gust also teaches certified therapeutic riding to help build physical coordination and cognitive skills in riders who have cognitive and physical disabilities. Gust runs the program 365 days a year and is always looking for volunteers. She says there are a handful of students signed up for the program, which is growing all the time. Balance also offers birthday parties complete with pony rides and a petting zoo of goats, sheep, chickens, and horses. “They get the full farm experience,” Gust says. “They get to look for chicken eggs, do a horseshoe scavenger hunt, learn grooming and feeding and of course ride the horses.” The facility has also been known to host a few weddings and can accommodate both ceremony and reception; it’s also been a nice backdrop for wedding photos. And while Gosnell and Gust are all about their students, they also like to open up the barn to the larger community. Three times a year – at Christmas, Halloween and Easter – they have an open house family day with proceeds going to the therapeutic riding program. The fun events involve activities such as an Easter egg hunt, face painting, pictures with Santa, and the freaky haunted house which returns this October. “We’re going to be doing the haunted barn and we can rate the scare factor

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to a degree,” Gosnell says. “This will be our second time doing it and it’s going to be bigger and better.” Plans this year involve a live operation, possibly a monster in the loft, a ghoul with chains and real, live scary ghouls to jump out and scare the pants off you. And if that’s not enough to keep the

two women busy, they also host horse camps three times a year, during winter break, spring break and summer vacation. The camps run Monday to Friday for three hours a day and culminate with a horse show on the last day of camp. Through it all, Gust says, they’re trying to instill a sense of pride and

respect in each of the riders who come through the barn. “Our goal is to create well-rounded equestrians that know how to look after the horses and be supportive of one another in a team environment,” she says. “We strive to provide a fun, educational place with a focus on safety and fun.”

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Bob Shelley has brought a lifetime of mining and excavation expertise to Campbell River's John Hart Power Generation Replacement Project.

Bob Shelley, right, meets with a machine operator outside the entrance to the maintenance access tunnel at the John Hart Power Generation Replacement Project.

[14] WAVE MAGAZINE | FALL 2015


Story by J.R. Rardon

John Hart contractor really digs his work — and community After nearly 20 years of working underground, to depths as far as 7,000 feet, Bob Shelley took a break to work on an offshore drilling rig for a couple years. The first day on the job, he was asked to go 150 feet into the air on a rope hoist to perform a hydraulic repair. "I said, 'Sure,'" said Shelley. "But I said, 'Hey man, if you don't mind, take me up 40 or 50 feet, let me come down, I'll shake it off and you can take me back up.' "He said, 'What do you mean? You scared of heights?' I said, 'I don't know. Never been up.'" Shelley is safely back on solid ground — and occasionally beneath it — as master mechanic for Frontier-Kemper, the subcontractor leading the controlled blasting and mining portion of the John Hart project in Campbell River. Originally from Newfoundland, Shelley, 58, and his wife, Wendy, have crisscrossed Canada and the globe on work projects that often have them living in a new home — or country — for a year or more at a time. And, while he may move on again to another job after excavation is completed on the John Hart project,

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Shelley insists he hasn't seen the last of Vancouver Island. "We've had 26 addresses, and this is the best spot," said Shelley, who moved here with Wendy from their more-or-less permanent home in Edmonton. "Two months after we got here, she said, 'Why would we ever leave here?' Of all the places in the world, this is the best spot we've ever lived in, right here. Unbelievable. You've got everything." And it has always been a team project for Bob and Wendy. Whenever he is set for a new job posting, whether in Ontario, Malaysia, South America or the Gobi Desert, Wendy paves the way with meticulous research. "When my wife goes somewhere, she studies everything about it," Shelley said. "She knows more about this place than most people here. She knew more about Malaysia than the locals. She knew more about Mongolia than the locals. "She goes out, she meets the newcomers' club. She's the president of the Newcomers' Club, here in town." Already, Shelley claims he and his wife have decided to retire on Vancouver Island when they're finished globetrotting for his work.

[16] WAVE MAGAZINE | FALL 2015

And why not, when you consider some of the alternatives. Everyone who has worked in mining as long as Shelley has lost friends in accidents. But he has also had what seems to be more than his share of adventure and danger away from the job site. Shelley was on the northern tip of Sumatra on Boxing Day of 2004 when a huge tsunami that followed the SumatraAndaman earthquake killed 230,000 people in 14 countries, including a number of his

friends or their families. In 2010, Shelley and his wife were in Chile when an 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast. At that time, before the 2011 megaquake off Japan, it was the fifth-largest earthquake ever recorded by seismograph. "Me and my wife were on the ninth floor of a 20-storey building," said Shelley. "She was going, man. The walls were cracking; the windows were busting. That was different." Perhaps the most extreme situation he found himself in was the rioting in Jakarta, Indonesia in May, 1998, which followed the shooting of four protesting students by security forces of President Suharto in the days before his forced resignation. After going out for a drink, he was returning to his hotel in a taxi when he and his driver came upon a line of riot police right in front of the hotel.

"All of a sudden I see the backs of the riot police shooting that way, away from me, and the Molotov cocktails coming this way, towards me." After an uneasy night in the hotel, Shelley went to the desk to check out and go to the airport. He was informed the mobs were hijacking cars and that he'd never make it. At one point, he and other guests were hustled into a windowless basement room, which was literally barricaded with furniture, for more than a half hour before security forces secured the hotel. Those are some of the extremes, he admits, and "there was a lot of stuff like that." But in all his travels, in all corners of the world, he has observed a common thread that runs through every culture. "All over the world, everywhere you go, in the middle of Borneo, in the jungle; down the middle of Vancouver, in Hong Kong, Bangkok; everybody wants the same thing. They want to get up in the morning, they want to have a half-decent day, they want to feel they achieved something, and they want to go home to their family in the evening." And every time he leaves one of those communities after completing a major work project, Shelley does feel that sense of achievement. But it's not a personal pride. "It's such a good feeling that we are part of that success; that we contributed to it," he said. "But generally I think of it as a team doing it; I don't think of it as me. I was a part of that team. We did it."


Real Science Right Here

Local aquatic health science startup now the go-to source for fish biology information for many industries and organizations

Kim Bull, a University of Victoria graduate has been working as a lab technician at the Centre for Aquaculture Health Sciences for "about four years," she says, and loves every minute of it. Story by Mike Davies

Jim Powell holds a Masters degree in smolt physiology and a Doctorate degree in neuroendocrinology – the study of the interaction between the nervous system and hormone production system and how those systems communicate with each other –

which he received from his research into the spawning triggers for salmon and evolutionary mapping of spawning controls in their brain. So it's safe to say he probably knows more about fish than just about anyone else in the area. About ten years ago, Powell was travelling

around the world selling fish health products. His job at the time was doing what he could to help conservation efforts, fish farmers, government and private researchers – anyone who had concerns with fish health. "Everywhere we went," he says, "there was somewhere that people could go to that

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would do impartial, third-party, unbiased diagnostic and research work. But we didn't have one of those places in British Columbia." So they decided to start one. After some thought about what a B.C.-based version of this would look like, they decided the best structure would be for the organization to be a privately-funded one, but also a non-profit. "That way you've got nobody holding anything over you. There are no shareholders, and we can work for anyone," Powell says. And they do. Now in its 10th year, the Centre for Aquatic Heath Services (CAHS) has become the goto resource for questions about the biology of all things in the water, from organisms as small as pathogens, viruses and sea lice to full-grown salmon and other large species of aquatic life. "As aquaculture grew and grew," Powell says, as an example, "they started to use us more, to the point where they trusted our work so much that producers transferred most of their routine lab work over to us and shut down their own labs. We're essentially their contract fish health lab, now." They also work with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), the Pacific Salmon Foundation, the Oyster River Enhancement Society, the Quinsam River Hatchery and many others, including First Nations, to address concerns in various regions and aquatic populations of the province, performing unbiased, hypothesis-based science in an attempt to address whatever the problem may be.

Microbiologist Robert Johns goes under a hood to plate some bacteria samples, ensuring they remain sterile and free of contaminants before they are tested elsewhere in the lab.

One major facet of what they do is what Powell refers to as "diagnostics," while another is "research and development." "Diagnostics" refers to their work analyzing various specimens of sea life and finding out what's wrong with them – if anything – and then determining the best approach to fixing whatever that issue might be. A salmon population being attacked by a parasite of some kind, for example, would need to have diagnostics done to find out what parasite is present, in what type of fish, for what reason, how it is impacting

the fish, and what steps can be taken to address that impact. Using state-of-the-art molecular biology techniques that involve "reading" the DNA or RNA of organisms to detect the presence of pathogens, Powell's team goes about their diagnostics work with painstaking precision. "Research and development," would be things like finding out the impact of general environmental issues like ocean warming, changing currents, and human behaviour on populations or determining the

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potential impacts of pesticides on specific species of aquatic life before they are used in an attempt to understand those factors or impacts. One of their most successful studies – which had immediate applicability to our local aquatic environment – was their work with the Quinsam River Hatchery, the Pacific Salmon Foundation, A-Tlegay Fisheries and the Campbell River Salmon Foundation in researching the migration of spawning salmon and the environmental factors present in the Campbell River estuaries, rivers and the receiving waters of the Discovery Passage that promote healthy populations of salmon upon their release from hatcheries. "The team started monitoring the productivity of the ocean," Powell says. "We wanted to know, when those fish came out of the hatchery, were there groceries there for them?" Before the CAHS study of the plankton availability in the estuary and immediate

ocean, the hatchery would release smolts based on calendar date, but they found that there wasn't a whole lot of return from the earliest of their release groups. Once Powell and his team determined a plankton cycle in that area, the hatchery could adjust their release date based on the "availability of the groceries the fish need to have when they get there." One of their most interesting "developments" is the innovation of their own ultrafiltration process, which takes 100 litres of water and concentrates it down into one litre of concentrate. "If you've got a virus pathogen that's out there in the water system, you could test that water, and test that water, and test that water, and you might not find it (viruses are really, really small). But we can ultrafiltrate that water, condense it down, and then test that. It really gives us a leg up on detection." They could patent that process, Powell says, "but we'll give it to anyone."

The third facet of what they do, Powell calls "outreach." Outreach, Powell says, can take the form of coursework offered about fish and sea life health issues, environmental issues, or general aquaculture practices. They offer internal certification through this teaching, in fact. They also bring school kids through the facility and teach them basic fish anatomy and general ecosystem education and go out and speak to groups like Rotary or Haig Brown – or anyone else who asks – about what they do at CAHS or about environmentalism, aquatic health, sustainable aquaculture practices, or whatever topic the group would like them to explore. "We pride ourselves on being a community resource," Powell says, "so that's another way we can do that." For more information on the CAHS, what they do or what they can do for you as an organization or individual, head over to their website at cahs-bc.ca

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www.northislandnissan.ca FALL 2015 | WAVE MAGAZINE [19]


Story by J.R. Rardon

A sweet case

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Michelle White and Steve Ross have a serious case of the blues. And life has never been so sweet. Six years ago, White chose to chuck her career as a financial planner and leap into a life of organic farming despite having no experience or background in the, well, field. Now, however, she and Ross, her husband of eight years, have completed a successful third season of selling blueberries and putting smiles on faces from Ross Mountain Farm. "I had a moment where I had to decide what I wanted to do with the rest of my

life," White said while giving a tour of the couple's 3.5-acre property at the corner of Evergreen and Petersen roads in Campbell River. "I left a career and some other short-term jobs and focused on what it was that was going to satisfy my soul and financial requirements and everything. Basically from the inside out, farming answered everything I had questions about." Not that she had all the answers about farming. Asked how much the couple knew at the time of her life-changing decision, White said, "Nothing." "Zero," Ross echoed.

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Michelle White and Peter Ross have made a successful commitment to organic farming at Ross Mountain Farm in Campbell River

Even now, pointed questions about the nature of the plants they're growing and the prospects for coming years are likely to draw a shrug. "You have no clue what happens until you actually start doing it," said White. "This is the only way to actually learn how to do it, is to do it. And if you researched all the things that could go wrong with a crop before you started, you'd never grow anything," Ross added. That the couple even has the property to farm was the result of a happy accident following their whirlwind courtship and marriage in 2007.

Ross had worked at the Port Alice pulp mill and serviced its gas contract before relocating to Campbell River and buying the land in 2003. While he and White had "crossed paths" a couple of times, they were officially introduced in January of 2007 and were married in June of that year. "That's a love story," said White. Each of them had a house at the time they married, but wanted to start over with a new place that would be theirs together. "So we put both houses up for sale and looked around for a place we could call

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ours," said Ross. "The problem was, we found nothing that could compare with this one." By 2009 White made her decision to go into organic farming with Ross' full-fledged support. Although he continues to work full-time off the farm, "He's been working his ass off ever since," White said. It was far more than digging some holes and dropping in plants. Ross Mountain Farm is built on a foundation of research that has included White taking classes in growing food, visiting agricultural trade shows and other farms across Vancouver Island, and, of course, plenty of online research. She is now an organic master gardener. Her second decision, after committing to starting a farm, was what to grow. "Blueberries were an almost instant choice," she said. "We thoroughly enjoy organic fruit and we were willing to travel to get it. Blueberries are very popular and very healthy. We hoped and believed other people would feel the same way we did, and would get it from us if they could get it here." The soil and climate conditions on their land also lend themselves to blueberry production. But while peak blueberry picking and selling season lasts only a matter of weeks, the couple spent years developing and cultivating the .8-acre blueberry field on the upper, level bench of the sloped property. The first order of business, after White cashed out a retirement account to fund the operation, was digging up the entire area and installing a drainage

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Michelle White plucks blueberries at Ross Mountain Farm, which she and her husband created from a grass field beginning in 2010.

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and irrigation system. Although their house is on city water, they dug a well — "We don't want to chlorinate our microbes," White says — and planted a hedge along both Evergreen and Petersen to provide privacy. But before the hedge rose, their efforts drew plenty of gawkers. "We'd be putting in the drainage, the irrigation and all that, and people would stop and pull over every day," said Ross. "'What are you doing?' 'What are you growing?'" "We were going to say it was a trailer park at one point," White added, "just to inspire some reaction." During berry season, Ross strings thousands of square feet of bird netting across a seven-foot fence surrounding the bushes. A screened canopy at the entrance to the plot was a revelation, serving to allow pickers in and out without having to wrestle with a gate while loaded with cartons or berries. "It works like a hot dam," said White. "The birds won't go in."

To add more work to the project, White was adamant about the farm holding organic certification by the Islands Organic Producers Association, whose standards are even more restrictive than those of the Canadian Organic Standards. The application process requires identifying everything that's happened with the property for at least three years before certification. There are annual inspections, annual fees, reports to file and a full accounting of everything brought onto or sent off the farm. "We're actually really proud of that (organic) check mark," said White. "Because it isn't just a given. We had to earn it, and we continue to earn it every year." She said customers have sought out Ross Mountain Farm because of that certification. "They're looking for that product, and we're happy to oblige," she said. The berry plants — there

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are five producing cultivars and a "Because on, DAYSwhen ANDblueberries LONGER are DRIVES. sixth that was added this year — went everything else stops." into the ground in 2010. By 2013, the They also have their own THE FIRST-EVER farm had its organic certification and honey bee hive and, of 2016 CX-3 GX the plants produced their first market course, a website and BI-WEEKLY LEASE OFFER FROM crop. Facebook % $ page.**at $ DOWN "Part of the idea with different "My children said we APR with for 60 months. Taxes extra. wn varieties is you get early and midhave to be on Facebook, season ripening," said White. "If you and they were right," said have a poor spring, a late season, White. "It's a really nice you're still going to get a crop. Also, way to communicate with the idea was getting fresh berries people. For example, if we're to the market when everybody's going to put something out appetite for fresh berries is fresh — in at the farm stand, I put it on the spring." Facebook so anybody following During peak picking season, White us knows what's available that employs up to 15 part-time workers. day. Now that the blueberries are well "It works really well." established, the couple has begun to branch out and expand the farm, And White and Ross anticipate adding a market garden on the lower it continuing to work well long even if the work is slope of the property, as well as a into the GTfuture, models shown difficult. variety of fruit tree, herbs and table CX-5 GX 2016 M{zd{6 GX grapes. 2015 M{zd{3 GX"Jeepers, working hard is just what LEASE OFFER FROM BI-WEEKLY LEASE OFFER FROMI ** % % BI-WEEKLY LEASE OFFER FROM $ $ $ DOWN do, " said White. "It's what Steve does. "We're trying crops that work around APR with DOWN APR with ** % $ DOWNIt's not a deterrent." atfor 60 months. Taxes nths. Taxes extra. extra. the blueberry $season," White said. at APR with

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Story by Mike Davies

CR Hospice Society finally finds its foundation After years of occupying temporary locations all over town, important social service will soon have a permanent home to call its own When local lawyer Brian Stamp read the headline in the October 3, 2013 Campbell River Mirror that read, "Time running out for Campbell River Hospice," he knew he needed to help however he could. It was a perfect pairing. The Campbell River Hospice Society has helped thousands of area residents – free of charge –  for almost three decades. It has done so while operating out of various temporary locations around town, providing grief/loss counselling, relaxation therapies, respite care and palliative services to those in need. Stamp has a long association with various healthcare services in one way or another for over 30 years, serving on various boards of health and committees, including the Vancouver Island Health Authority (now Island Health). "I've always felt that hospice provides a very important service within a

community," Stamp says, "and I knew that I could help." Faced with eviction from their landlord at the time, who needed the space they were renting in order to expand their own services, Stamp called upon a few of his business associates and proposed the idea of building a permanent Hospice House. Many options were considered, but it was determined a brand-new, purpose built facility would best provide enough space to accommodate current operations and also provide an expanded service delivery in the future. "They were concerned about being able to continue operations," Stamp says, "and were looking at maybe trying to buy a house and renovate it, and I said, 'Just hold on a second here. Let's see what we can come up with.'"

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The Hospice House Build Team was formed, determined to make the CR Hospice House a reality. The process began with an extensive search for a suitable site, as well as studying what other like-sized communities have in place for their Hospice Societies. With the help of then city councillor – now mayor – Andy Adams, the City of Campbell River committed to donate the Hospice House land at 402 Evergreen Road. The site was ideal, being located next to both the Campbell River Hospital and Yucalta Lodge. Once built and in use, there will be pathways that will connect the Hospice House to both the hospital and Yucalta, so it will be easier for people who need hospice services to get access to the facility, because they'll be essentially incorporated right into the "health block," of services in that area.

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For the next six months after the location was determined, the five build team members met regularly and designed the new Hospice House with the help of Giesbrecht Designs. The design includes an outdoor courtyard, multiple counselling and administrative offices, a large group meeting/training room and a resource library, and was designed to be able to expand and house actual hospice beds when they get the go ahead to do that in the future.

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Once they had the design, a capital fundraising campaign team was formed – expanding the Build Team from five to about 15 – and they got to work raising money for the project. "In the first three months, we raised over $500,000. All from within the community," Stamp says, and that's not including in-kind commitments such as donated labour from local contractors once the project gets going and building supplies from local retailers. "Campbell River is amazing like that. It's a really great community for coming together when things need to get done," says Jacqueline Spies, director of programs and operations for the Campbell River Hospice Society. So what will the new home mean to the organization? "For us it means there's a future," Spies says. "We don't need to worry about where we're going to be a year from now. As Investment Advisor a non-profit, especially in today's world, you want to have

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stability. You don't want to have to be worrying about having the right place to rent or that the place you find can accommodate you." Their current home on Dogwood Street is a temporary lease, for example. As was their space before that. They've been going about their business for years by signing on in a location for six months at a time and hoping their lease is renewed, and moving when it's not. "Evergreen (Seniors Home, which owns the Dogwood Street property they currently occupy) has been awesome to us," Spies says. "But they want to repurpose this space as a daycare for their workers, which is awesome, and we don't want to be put in a situation where they say we can only renew for another six months, and we don't want them to be put in that situation, either." The advantage of the new location

isn't just in its proximity to other health services – making their own more accessible for their clients and families – or in the fact that they won't be paying the additional overhead cost of rent every month and the stability that comes with having a permanent home. With only one office in their current location, and the group meeting room also serving as their resource library and entryway, planning, scheduling and then offering programming can be challenging. "Right now we can't have anything else going on when there's somebody in here for counselling," Spies says, citing privacy concerns. "And that counselling room is also our ecotherapy room, our relaxation room… and so we have to be really careful with booking our programming." The new facility, however, will break everything

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into dedicated spaces so many more things can be offered simultaneously, enabling more people to access more of their offerings more often. "We're growing and expanding, and this new facility will allow for even further expansion, as well," Spies says. "We're working to bring all sorts of programs into the community that are desperately needed," Spies says. "When I came on board I brought new programs with me, to try and fill the gaps, and the more I talk to people, the more I see that we're still missing. It's going to be a busy hub of activity once we get in there. "We'll be able to run it like a hospice should be run." Head over to crhospicehouse.ca to watch the project take shape, or go have a peek at the build site on Evergreen and see how it's coming along.

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Story by Alistair Taylor

s l e w e J in the crown Being a family-owned business located outside of a major urban centre is not a disadvantage for Campbell River’s Preston Jewellers For 40 years, Preston Jewellers has been one of the first storefronts to welcome visitors to Campbell River’s downtown core. Behind the blue awning and the glass windows on Shoppers Row is a subdued, climate-controlled store of treasures. Glass display cases gleam under pot lights, or glow with lights from within. Diamonds, gold bands, silver chains, all manner of beautiful jewellery glisten under the lights. Many a Campbell River family started here with the purchase of an engagement ring and then, later, wedding bands. Other life milestones were commemorated with the precious jewellery found in this store: graduations, birthdays, retirements and more. It’s that connection to life’s landmark events that places a jewellery store uniquely at the heart of a community. For 40 years, Preston Jewellers has exemplified that connection between a community and its milestones, not just through the sale of fine jewellery but by the Preston family itself living and growing in the community and being actively involved in community development for two generations.

“It’s a family business but it’s a veryinvolved-in-the-community business,” says Kim Stevens, manager of Preston Jewellers and daughter of business founder Brian Preston. The Preston family has been involved in a range of community charities and support organizations both through their business and with their own personal time. Brian Preston has been active in Rotary since the 1980s and is still involved. The family is active in church, the arts and on civic committees. The business supports multiple sclerosis fundraising, the Rod Brind’Amour Golf Classic fundraiser for cystic fibrosis, the

Firefighters Burn Fund Fashion Inferno and international relief like the Asian tsunami effort of a few years ago. Preston took to collecting and delivering to Thailand, shoes and sandals for people who had lost everything in the tsunami. It all reflects the family’s belief in giving back to the community. That ethic is reflected in a simple philosophy. “The only way you can make your community better is investing in it,” Stevens says. “I like the idea of making it a better place. Not just for me but to keep people here and keep them happy.

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“I mean, we like our town. We like our city.” Of course, the store has been a big part of Stevens’ life, besides working in it full time for the past 13 years. “I think I started working here first when I was 12. Dusting,” Stevens said. Then when she was 14, she was allowed to talk to customers. Now she has a family of her own and manages the store. Her father’s still involved, coming in to do repairs amongst other things. Having been the son of a jeweller and running his own store for 40 years, he knows jewellery. “He’s an amazing shopper,” Stevens says. “He just has an eye.” At buying trips and trade shows, something will catch his eye and he’ll say, “boom, that’s it.” Sure enough, it will prove to be popular with customers. The staff are almost part of the family too. With six to seven employees, most have been with the store 15-20 years. “They’re pretty loyal and they’re great and knowledgeable,” Stevens says. “They can’t be here that long and not know the industry.” And knowledge is important in the jewellery business. Keeping on top of the trends is important. “There’s lots of fads and fashions,” Stevens says. “That’s part of what we do, look for something new.” And how do you do that? “We have to travel-l-l-l-l,” Stevens

Commercial and Residential

says in a sing-song voice, followed with a laugh. “The only way to see what’s coming is to go somewhere where they’re a little ahead of us.” That involves places like Las Vegas and Toronto. That way they can see what they’re selling and then note that in two years they’d better be ready for that. They also learn of things that are hot sellers right now. “So we’re always, always looking. We try to keep current.” And it’s easier now because you can go online, but that has its limitations because what’s online is what’s selling now, not what’s coming down the pipe in two year's time. There’s always risk though, because you have to “trust that what they are projecting is right.” But Preston Jewellers has an advantage in being so established. It allows them to take risks. When you’re new you have to be more invested in what’s tried and true because if it doesn’t sell, you’re in a bind. Being established, Preston Jewellers can afford to try something new because they’re an established business with a solid customer base and they can ride out something that doesn’t catch on. “If it doesn’t work, we can try something else,” Stevens says. “We’re able to take the chances. Also, we do have a good customer base. People will come in and ask us what’s new.” Repairs are a big part of the business as well. Like every facet of society, the jewellery business is being impacted by

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Baby Boomers. Preston Jewellers sees this manifested when Boomers inherit their parents’ jewellery. Sometimes they don’t like it, so they take the diamonds and the gold out and have it redesigned. “We’ve always done designing but now we’re looking at mismatched sizes of diamonds and what are you going to do with it? So now we’re finding designs that will fit with that.” It also respects family heritage and preserves family history by finding a way to keep the jewellery but repurpose it in a modern design. “It still represents the history and getting it from their parents but it’s an updated style,” Stevens says. Preston Jewellers itself has a 40-year history that keeps repurposing because of the vagaries of fashion trends. The business began in 1975 when Brian

Preston, with his wife and three children, moved here from Edmonton, Alberta. The plan was to buy an already established jewellery business – De Haan’s Jewellers, started by Jeep De Haan. The business was already operating out of the Discovery Inn, which continues to house Preston Jewellers, albeit occupying more space. The jewellery business is in the Preston family’s blood. Preston’s parents owned and operated Preston Jewellers in Flin Flon, Manitoba. With the move to the Island, Preston was saying goodbye to a sales career of eight years. But he never looked back, quickly taking to life by the sea. The first thing he did when he arrived was buy a boat. The store has weathered many fads from newfangled clock radios in the 1970s, mini ring watches and Swatches in the 80s, collectors plates in the late 80s and 90s.

Stevens says as the town has changed over the years, so has the jewellery business. One of the trends right now is the consumer wants brand names. “We’ve found that in the past, somebody wanted a picture frame we could get any one but now it’s Wang or Pandora,” Stevens says. “It’s a good way for us to go too in that there’s a consistent quality as well." “People want a branded purse. They don’t just want a leather purse, they want a brand on it. A watch that has a name on it. People are so marketed to so that is what they expect. The name recognition is huge and that’s across the board.” If familiarity is the strength of a brand, then the family jewellery shop in downtown Campbell River is a brand of its own, having served the community for 40 years and showing no signs of slowing down, no matter what the trend.

Meet your community news team... Your community news team:

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FALL 2015 | WAVE MAGAZINE [29]

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Story by J.R. Rardon

Understanding the

gravity

of the situation As an airplane pilot, Roy Wharton was best known for losing his passengers before the plane landed. But they kept coming back for more. Wharton, 60, is co-founder and owner of Pacific Airsports Skydiving and patriarch of the ParaPacific Skydiving Club, both of which operate from a hangar at Campbell River Airport. Pacific Airsports provides a variety of opportunities for would-be skydivers, from single bucket list leap strapped to a professional tandem skydiver to a 20jump solo certification course. What it doesn't provide is a huge income. "I'm not in this business to make a pile of money," said Wharton. "I'm in this business because I love skydiving. It's my dream to see everybody, at least once, jump out of an airplane. Because it's the coolest thing you can ever do." Wharton is a tall, spry man who can gush like an

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excited schoolboy about skydiving one moment, then turn around and deadpan one-liners about the lunacy of the sport the next. "Jumping out of an airplane isn't hard, physically," he said. "But mentally, it's a head trip. I mean, who jumps from an airplane? You've gotta be a little cuckoo to jump from an airplane." That doesn't prevent the clientele from flocking to Campbell River, which Wharton has managed to turn into a drop zone (DZ) of note for those seeking entry into the sport. Pacific Airsports has operated here since he moved the business from Comox in 1992. Until the past year, it was one of only two DZs on Vancouver Island, and in July became the first to offer a oneweek, crash course class designed to give

skydivers a shot at 20 jumps and their solo skydiving ticket. "I was looking up skydiving on Vancouver Island and this popped up. I thought, oh, this looks perfect," said Kyler Jones, 18, who ventured from Nanaimo for the weeklong course. "They have a zone in Qualicum where you can jump if you have your own gear. Here, they have all the student gear; everything is taken care of." Jones is a prime example of the type of person drawn to skydiving. A classic Type A personality who referees hockey at the provincial level and who had participated in rugby, lacrosse and hockey, he is scheduled to enlist in the Canadian Forces in September as a sapper — a combat engineer — where he can continue to jump. "I like cliff-jumping and what-not," said

Jones. "This sounded like an adrenaline rush. I did a tandem (jump) for my 18th birthday just to see what it was like and loved it. "I wanted to get my solo ticket because I think it's a hobby I want to do." Then again, skydiving is not all about Type A. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Jones's jump camp classmate, a Cobble Hill bartender who gave his name only as Rick. "There really wasn't much thought out, actually," Rick said of his reason for signing up for the 20-jump course. "It seemed like it was going to be enjoyable, and I really value experiences over possessions." So what does Rick plan to do with his solo skydiving ticket once he achieves it? "Well, (Jones) does a lot more planning than I do, to be honest with you," he said.

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participate in skydiving as club members. Jeff Warden, 52, as a search and rescue tech at CFB Comox who serves as a tandem instructor for Pacific Airsports, he said even the jumpers being paid to perform a job still have a passion for skydiving. "More than anything, I like the idea of introducing people to the sport of skydiving," Warden said. "Sure, I love to jump, but there are only so many things you can do in freefall and only so many things you can do flying the parachute."

Karina Gibson of Courtenay shares a laugh as jumpmaster Ron O'Reilly adjusts her parachute at Campbell River's Pacific Airsports. "I have a lot of ideas, but I like to live in the moment, to be honest." Pacific Airsports has had jumpers ranging in age from 18, the minimum allowed, to 84, Wharton said. And the range of responses to the experience is nearly as varied. Invited to the one-day, firstjump course by friend Karina Gibson, Courtenay's Joe Burnett was raring to go until he actually stepped out of the plane and hung from the wing strut. When jumpmaster Ron O'Reilly shouted for him to let go, Burnett's hands

did not accept the message. "I knew I was supposed to let go," said Burnett. "But I couldn't." Before pilot Keegan Allen could fly the plane clear of the drop zone over the airport, O'Reilly helped Burnett with a little nudge. After Burnett floated to a rolling landing in the grassy field alongside the Pacific Airsports hangar, he shared a huge grin with classmate Tayo Wallenburg. "I would so do that again," Burnett said. That is music to the ears of Wharton and the jumpers who both work for the business and

Scott Gurney was invited, along with a group of friends, by another friend who had taken the first jump course. It wasn't until that friend died that Gurney and the rest of his buddies took the jump course in their fallen comrade's honour. "I'm the only one who stuck with it," he said. "I like flying; you feel like Superman. Flying the parachute's fun; the freefall is fun. It's a great hobby." Gurney admits he is still more nervous about jumping than skydivers with a similar level of experience, but he believes it keeps him safe. Besides, the higher the plane climbs on each trip, the safer he feels. "It's all about time," he said. "If the plane had a problem

at 1,500 feet, we're in trouble. If the plane has a problem at 5,000 feet, we jump out. Then it's 'Good luck, Keegan; see you later.'" If things really went sideways, Keegan would probably be fine. Along with everyone else aboard the Cessna 182, he is equipped with a parachute and took the first-jump course before starting work as a pilot for Pacific Airsports earlier this year. "It's a lot of fun, probably the craziest five seconds I've ever experienced," Allen said of his first free-fall. First solo jumps are taken from 5,000 feet, with an instructor-assisted parachute release at 3,500 feet. "We teach them to count to six, because that's when they should be hanging under their parachute," said Wharton. "If you're not, you maybe got one of these 'what-ifs'." A parachute failing to deploy is the big "what-if", Wharton admits. But jumpers all have a backup chute and are trained to release the main chute and open the backup if there is a problem. "We call it Plan B," Wharton said. "There really isn't a Plan C to speak of. Well, there is, but Plan C is more spiritual in nature." There have been the

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occasional sprained ankle or twisted knee, but Pacific Airsports has had only one serious incident in 38 years in business in Comox and Campbell River. In that incident, a student's parachute opened but the lines were fouled and it was turning. "For whatever reason, he didn't get rid of it and come down under his backup chute," Wharton said. "So he hit the ground pretty hard." The jumper lived, but spent weeks in hospital with a broken pelvis and other injuries. Wharton said the technology of parachuting has led to a change in the nature of skydiving accidents. With chutes getting smaller and smaller — and thereby faster and more maneuverable — more skydiving fatalities are occurring under perfectly good parachutes than because of a parachute's failure. "Back in my day the thrill was jumping out of the plane and doing the freefall," he said. "The parachute was just a safe way to get back to the ground. Now, it's fun jumping out, it's fun in freefall, and it's fun flying the chute." Wharton has been at it since 1972, when his parents took him to watch skydivers jump at an event at the Comox Rec Centre.

"Those four jumpers landed right in front of me, and I thought that was the coolest thing I'd ever seen," Wharton said. He began making inquiries, got a pamphlet from one of the jumpers and made a few calls. Within two weeks he was out at CFB Comox taking a skydiving course through the Comox Skydivers, a hybrid military/ civilian club allowed to operate from the air base. Within a year, he succumbed to a request by the owners of the club's plane to get his pilot's licence and fly jumpers for them. And within five years, when those owners decided to get out of the skydiving business, Wharton gathered four partners — including his father, an aircraft maintenance engineer with the Canadian Forces — who bought a plane and started a business. In 1980, looking for another plane, Wharton found the plane he made his first jump from up for sale in Abbotsford. "I thought, come on home," he said, "and we bought it." It is still the plane used by the jump school today. Pacific Airsports is not the only business Wharton has owned. For 34 years, he was owner of the Jolly Giant convenience store in Campbell River, and was living here when

he decided to try moving his skydiving business from Comox in 1992. By then, he had bought out his other partners and brought in his brother, Reid, to join him and their father as co-owners. "I met with the acting airport manager, and he was phenomenal," Wharton said. "He said, 'Yeah, I'm willing to give you guys a try; let's see how it works.'" After a year of working out of a truck and camper at the south end of the airport, Pacific Airsports leased a spot at the north end and erected the present-day hangar, which includes an office, a classroom and storage lockers for equipment. The business is affiliated with the Canadian Sport Parachuting Organization, through which its members receive training and certifications. Its aircraft is licensed and regulated under Transport Canada. The only thing the skydiving club's plane is not certified for is carrying passengers. "The funny thing is, skydivers are not considered passengers," said Wharton. "Skydivers are actually considered cargo, which kind of blows me away. "I guess it's because they go up, but they don't come down with the plane."

FALL 2015 | WAVE MAGAZINE [33]


Story by Kristen Douglas

At the heart of Nuyumbalees Chief Billy Assu was always ahead of his time. The progressive leader of the Cape Mudge First Nation not only ensured a residential school was never built in his community but, under his leadership, the Cape Mudge Village was the first area on Quadra Island to have running water, electricity and indoor plumbing. “He was really progressive and that’s really reflected in this centre,” says Jodi Simkin, the executive director of the Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre on Quadra Island. It’s at this centre that an exhibit dedicated to the life and times of Chief Billy Assu will open in the later part of September. The opening ceremony was previously scheduled for Aug. 1 but was postponed following the July death of Assu’s grandson, Chief Donald Assu, who was also president of the Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre. The new date is expected to coincide with the return of an integral piece of the exhibit – two of Chief Billy Assu’s house poles from a museum in Ottawa. In the meantime, Assu’s great-grandson, Brad Assu, has been carving replicas of the poles at the request of his father, the late Chief Donald Assu. The poles are just two of 13 pieces that make up the exhibit dedicated to a chief Simkin describes as “very popular” and who served for 60 years before his death in February, 1965. Another key piece of the exhibit is the chilkat robe which was woven by Mary Hunt. It has travelled across the country and will be on loan to Nuyumbalees for one year before it will move on to Alert Bay and then return to the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que. Simkin says in total 117 pieces of his belongings, such

as art and potlatch regalia, were confiscated, but through negotiations Nuyumbalees has managed to return some of those to the centre. It’s a practice that is at the heart of Nuyumbalees. “It really started in the mid 1960s when Chief James Sewid called all the chiefs together and wanted to negotiate to get all the stuff that was confiscated during the anti-potlatch era,” says Rod Naknakim, vicepresident of the Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre. “He had seen a lot of it on display in museums in Ottawa and heard a lot wasn’t on display.” So negotiations began and Sewid cut a cheque for more than $1,000 to have the items returned. The condition was, it would have to go to a museum rather than to all of the different families that were laying claim to the items which included masks, rattles, regalia and other ceremonial items. As Cape Mudge had the largest piece of land available, all of the chiefs supported, in principle, building a museum there as well as a second museum in Alert Bay which would become the U’mista Cultural Centre. Nuyumbalees opened with a great ceremony in 1979, followed by U’mista in 1980. “It was the first of its kind in Canada designated to a repatriated collection,” says Simkin who describes repatriation as the transfer of ownership to the museum to hold, care and entrust for the families. It’s what makes the Nuyumbalees Centre unique. “What makes this different is every piece in the collection is intimate to the community, every piece has a connection to a family,” Simkin says. “In the last year and a half we’ve worked towards expanding the interpretation of our collection so we can enhance the

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visitors' experience. That’s enhancement when we’re able to bring the pieces back to the community.”

potlatch laws were in effect, while the lower floor is full of pre-contact stone tools and other donated items.

To that end, Simkin says the work is never done and the centre is always working to recover pieces to add to the collection which currently stands at about 500 pieces, including 16 totem poles or welcome poles.

Simkin says the pieces on display at the centre come back in a variety of ways – through long-term loans with other museums or through the repatriation process which can be lengthy and requires a lot of paperwork.

The two upper floors of the centre focus on a collection of potlatch items from the years 1884-1951, when the anti-

“We’re always looking for other pieces to fill in the collection,” Simkin says. “We did a survey of the community and most

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said that the most important function of the museum is the return of pieces from the potlatch collection. It remains considerably relevant to the community.” And to other parts of the world as well. While many of the visitors to the centre are from the local area, Simkin says they also see quite a few international and American tourists drop by. On average, the centre greets 6,000 visitors a year, but last year those numbers were blown out of the water when 4,200 people came to Nuyumbalees for a Canada Day

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celebration – hospitality not seen on that same scale since the Chief Billy Assu potlatch days. But despite all of the centre’s success, Simkin says the fact items of Assu’s were recently found in Zurich, Switzerland and in Vancouver, shows there’s more work to be done and that work is central to the sharing of the story. “Thirty-five, thirty-six years after it opened its doors, the arrival of each new piece enhances the story and the community is re-energized after each new piece is brought in,” Simkin says. “Daycares and youth groups come to

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see the new items and hear the story and learn the history. It’s tremendous to see our efforts foster the continual revolution of the story.” The Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre is open Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. until Sept. 29. Winter hours are in effect from Sept. 29 to May 1 when Nuyumbalees will be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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Story by Kristen Douglas

f o t r a e h t Pa ssing on Wayne Bell has always been one-of-akind. From a young age, he was undertaking physical feats that his older siblings and cousins would shy away from and he could perform First Nations traditional dances that he was never taught. So it was no surprise that by five-yearsold, the boy from the Mamalilikulla Nation was discovering a lost art form. As a child, Bell was shifted around between both sets of grandparents to protect him from being taken away to a residential school. Until he was five, Bell lived with

g n i v a we

grandparents Henry Bell and Ada Kwa Nees, before moving in with his other set of grandparents – Daniel Glendale and Katy Ferry – until he was 10.

His grandparents, as well as his Auntie May Henderson, taught him the basics of cedar weaving but Bell said he was blessed with a real knack for the art form.

But he says the art form was lost when potlatches were banned in the 1900s. And after that, Bell says his people were afraid to weave out of fear their artifacts would be taken away and burned.

“It’s a real old art, it was gifted to me,” Bell says. “I taught myself. I used to play with branches and vine when I was very young.”

“A lot of people weren’t weaving and when they were weaving, they did it behind closed doors or windows because of how it used to be,” Bell says. “You had to do it behind locked doors and closed windows because of the residential schools. If it was found, they would burn it.”

Bell says cedar weaving is so old that his ancestors were weaving before wood carvings ever came into the equation and before the invention of the lightbulb.

But Bell, who moved to Campbell River in 2000 from Vancouver, encouraged people here to take up the art, without fear of punishment.

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“We’ve been weaving for over 10,000 years but when I first came to Campbell River there was no one weaving. Now there’s weavers all across the coast,” Bell says. “I broke the door right open. I lit a fire and got everyone weaving.”

to Stanley Park once for Aboriginal Day and we did dances and taught people how to fillet fish.”

Bell had been teaching weaving in schools on the Lower Mainland for about five years. He caught the teaching bug from his grandmother, Ferry, who brought Bell along with her as she would teach weaving, dancing and cooking to students in schools across the coast.

“I was 10 years old and I was the only one who could make long strips with my hands out of the cedar,” he says. “Everyone else was using scissors but I could do it without scissors. I could just use my hands. I’ve got a knack for it – the peeling and cutting. I’m the only one who can peel cedar like a machine.”

“She’s the one who brought us all over Vancouver Island,” Bell says. “We opened up schools, we opened up gyms. We went

And Bell stood out among his relatives when it came to weaving.

And his art, which ranges from rose rings with a vine to go around the finger, to cedar dolls, to baskets, blankets, and shoes, hasn’t gone unnoticed. One of his pieces, an eagle mask, is in the Parliament buildings in Ottawa. “I’m recognized for doing one of the oldest pieces of art in the world because all of the materials come from nature, they’re not bought from the store,” Bell says. His work also captured attention at a more local level. Bell has been working with the Arts Council, Museum at Campbell River and Greenways Land Trust to teach people how to use invasive plant species, particularly ivy, in creating art projects and at the same time, helping to remove the harmful species from local watersheds.

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He received permission in 2000 from hereditary Chief George Quocksister to do the cedar harvesting and pass on the art of weaving through his teachings. Since then, Bell has been working with School District 72 to teach students in several Campbell River schools the art of weaving, which he’s found to be a form of therapy for some of the children. “There were kids who were very hurt and kids coming to school who are hungry and they’re telling me how they’re feeling and that they’re hungry,” Bell says. “This has opened up a lot of kids and opened up a lot of healing. That’s why they pulled me in; it was to help the kids cope.

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“I’m showing all the kids how to weave; I’m having fun,” Bell adds. He’s also passing down the tradition to his own children, daughters Catherine, 19, and Norine, 15, and son Norman, 21. Norine has even been accompanying Bell on his school trips and taking up teaching herself. “She’s been doing it since she was three,” Bell says. “I had her in a child pack and I would take her out to the woods when I was harvesting. She makes hummingbird masks and she created her own top hat for Easter with bunny ears. She’ll come in to the schools and help me.” Bell says her talents, like his, are inherited and he credits his family for everything he’s achieved. “It’s thanks to (Auntie) May, thanks to (grandmother) Katy Ferry, thanks to my mom, Catherine Bell,” Bell says. “If it wasn’t for those ladies we wouldn’t be doing art because they’re the ones who had us, gave us life.”

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Story by Mike Davies

One man's path to a bigger, more lively and more interactive art experience There's a 1990 Nissan Pathfinder driving around our region with a matte black finish. A transparent pamphlet display unit hangs from the rear passenger side window. That pamphlet holder is full of chalk, and it's clear what you're being invited to do, because others already have.

After completing North Island College's Fine Arts Diploma program, Witcombe went on to take a Bachelor of Fine Arts through the Emily Carr University of Art and Design's satellite program campus in Courtenay. Then he threw himself out into the world and started looking for work.

It beckons to you. And you go to it.

It's been a tough slog. Becoming an artist isn't a, "graduate and then go take your resumé around," kind of endeavour.

You follow the instructions of the vinyl signage on the vehicle's windows asking you to "Chalk My Ride." Maybe you write a message. Maybe you draw something. It doesn't matter to the owner. It's all about engaging with art in whatever way you want. He's just supplying the "canvas." That Pathfinder belongs to mural artist Alex Witcombe. Witcombe doesn't just make art. He lives it. "I've always been an artist," he says. "When I was a kid I'd have sketchbook after sketchbook full of drawings of whatever I was into right then." And so when it came time to decide a career path, he decided to keep going in what he loved. "Looking back on it, I probably should have taken a trade of some kind," he laughs, a gentle poke at both himself and the "starving artist" stereotype that turns out to be somewhat accurate.

"It did take a while for me to transition into art as a full-time job," he says. "You need constant focus and you need to really get out there and meet people – getting your name out there is the big thing." He's got some regular work – he goes around the country painting murals at Laser Quest facilities when they need to be redone – but most of the time his art life is a cycle of, "create proposal, submit proposal, wait for response, repeat." Occasionally there's a "create mural" phase in there, but not as often as there isn't. "I've spent 30 hours on a proposal and not gotten any work out of it," Witcombe says. "I would say I spend as much time making proposals as I do actually making art. It's probably 50/50," he laughs. "The most frustrating thing was when there just wasn't money there (during the recession in the late 2000s). I'd be doing a lot

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of mural proposals and putting in a lot of time, and sometimes it just turns out that there's no money for the work." Murals are big and timeconsuming, after all, and through the economic downturn the world took not that long ago, Witcombe says, it was hard to convince people to spend the money on things like art. Ken Blackburn, Executive Director of the Campbell River Arts Council, sees significant value in Witcombe's contributions to the community, however, and thinks his career will be taking off soon, especially with implemented initiatives like Campbell River's Downtown Façade Improvement Project – which provides matching grants of up to $10,000 to business owners who want to make improvements to their

buildings – giving incentive to businesses to spruce up their walls.

city streets more appealing, inviting and interesting places to walk and shop."

"I think Alex’s work fits well within a discussion of how the arts can contribute to overall community development," Blackburn says. "The use of public murals, or banners – or generally ‘art in public spaces’ – activate urban space and bring a sense of vitality to the experience of a downtown core. His ability to work creatively and imaginatively in a number of styles and themes is quite remarkable, whether addressing historic subject matter, aquatic life, fantasy, portraiture, landscape, you name it, Alex can produce it and maintain a high sense of aesthetic appeal."

"I think (Witcombe's) greatest strength is being able to have popular appeal in a public space at the same time as keeping the artistic integrity necessary to also be a strong work of art," Blackburn says. "His imagery is great for the downtown business climate and adds a positive sense of social dynamism to Campbell River. Art can play a huge factor in fostering progressive economic, social or cultural development within a city, and Alex Witcombe’s work is a great example of how this is done."

That fits the bill for the Façade Improvement Project, which according to Mayor Andy Adams, "is intended to make

He's already done a few things to brighten up Campbell River's downtown. His work was chosen for a banner project last year, when

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Daybreak Rotary chose his design to help Jim Creighton, manager of Spirit Square, spruce up the area. He also created the entrance wall to the new Volunteer Campbell River facility on Alder Street, and was involved in the mural work on Mussels and More in Campbellton. So what's next for Witcombe? "I'm just going to keep at it. I've got a few proposals in for projects that I'm hoping to hear good news about," he says, hinting at the possibility of at least two upcoming major projects in the downtown core of Campbell River. But until he hears back on those, he'll just keep putting himself out there and showing up at events with his Pathfinder and his chalk, engaging the community with art. Because it's what he loves, and it's important to him to share that love with whoever he can, however he can. Check out some of Witcombe's work at flywheel-studios.com and watch for more of it to be going up around town.

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September 04, 2015  

Section Z of the September 04, 2015 edition of the Campbell River Mirror

September 04, 2015  

Section Z of the September 04, 2015 edition of the Campbell River Mirror