Page 1















Northern BC's


BEER breweries rge o e G e c n i r P

e Princrt Rupe

ce Terra nel s e u Q nt u o m Vale

Wheelhouse Brewing

217 1 Ave E, Prince Rupert 250-624-2739 www.wheelhousebrewing.com

2 May/June 2017

Sherwood Mountain Brewhouse #101 — 4816 Hwy 16 W. Terrace 250.635.0080 www.sherwoodmountain.beer

CrossRoads Brewing

508 George St, Prince George 250-614-2337 www.crossroadscraft.com

Barkerville Brewing Co. 185 Davie St, Quesnel 778-414-2739 barkervillebeer.com

Three Ranges Brewing Company 1160 5 Ave, Valemount 250-566-0024 www.threeranges.com

Find the


in the cover photo for your chance to win a pair of tickets to the Midsummer Music Fest! This issue’s contest is sponsored by the Smithers Midsummer Music Festival June 30 - July 2, 2017.

Email contest@northword.ca with your best guess. Correct entries will be entered into a draw & the winner announced June 3.

ON THE COVER Photographer Talon Gillis captured (and participated in) this collaborative moment with one hand on the camera while passing a chainsaw to fisheries biologist Renny Talbot, during a salmon-counting excursion on a tributary of the Skeena River.


Legalities and limitations Copyright Š 2017. All rights reserved. No part of Northword Magazine, in print or electronic form, may be reproduced or incorporated into any information retrieval systems without written permission of the publisher. Information about events, products or services provided is not necessarily complete. The publisher is not responsible in whole or in part for any errors or omissions.The views expressed herein are those of the writers and advertisers, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher, staff or management. Northword assumes no liability for improper or negligent business practices by advertisers, nor for any claims or representations contained anywhere in this magazine. Northword reserves the right to cancel or refuse advertising at the publisher’s discretion. In no event shall unsolicited material subject this publication to any claim or fees. Northword welcomes submissions but accepts no responsibility for unsolicited materials. Copyright in letter and other materials sent to the publisher and accepted for publication remains with the author, but the publisher and its licensees may freely reproduce them in print, electronic and other forms. Please refer to northword.ca for contribution guidelines.

May/June 2017





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Canada’s longest running renewable energy company is now based in the Bulkley Valley.

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May/June 2017


Just 40 minutes South of Terrace

Stop in at the Visitor Centre and pick up your Kitimat Visitor’s Book of Deals




International Food Fair - Live Music - Beer Garden Stage Show - Vendors - Fireworks and more…


A Marvel of Nature and Industry 6 May/June 2017






For more information visit www.kitimat.ca and www.kitimatcalendar.ca





From Prince George to Prince Rupert, creative folks join forces to enhance their respective cultures, and northern BC culture as a whole. Collaboration at its best in three northern communities. by Melissa Sawatsky


Above/Below Freediving is a meditative, introspective sport, and here we get a rare glimpse of what that looks like in Haida Gwaii waters. Photographer Joseph Crawford takes us beneath the waves. words by Allison Smith, photos by Joseph Crawford


Caribou Conundrum Collaboration takes a very literal form in this article, as a pair of writers explore different perspectives on a contentious subject: the extirpation and conservation of the Telkwa caribou herd. by Emily Bulmer & Amanda Follett Hosgood


Oui, je parle francais French Immersion programs are increasingly becoming either a dying breed or a fiercely-defended commodity. We dig into the issue as school districts across the region start making decisions, for better or worse.

FIRSTWORDS Brewing Community 14

Llgaaygwü sdiihlda 15

Kitimat Bats 16

Casse-Tête 17


Mount Hays 37


Black Spruce Bog 39 Eden Robinson 40

Disturbances in the Field 40 Freeman's Home 40 LASTWORD

The Farmer's Blow 43

by Sarah Artis


.ca .ca

Creative Connections



Still Growing Forty years ago, writer Sheila Peters set up shop in the Bulkley Valley with a vision of being self-sufficient. Here, she reflects on what has changed in agriculture over the past four decades—and what hasn't. by Sheila Peters

IMAGE: When farm geese escape their pen to hang out at a nearby pond, eagles aren't far behind, and the rescue mission requires a team effort. — Photo by Talon Gillis

northword magazine

MAIN OFFICE | Smithers 1412 Freeland Ave. Smithers, BC, V0J 2N4 t: 250.847.4600 | w. northword.ca | e. editor@northword.ca

Matt J. Simmons

Publisher/Editor-in-chief matt@northword.ca 250.847.4600


Sandra Smith

CONTRIBUTORS Sarah Artis, Jo Boxwell, Emily Bulmer, Paul Colangelo, Phil Cornwall, Joseph Crawford, Amanda Follett Hosgood, Facundo Gastiazoro, Talon Gillis, Morgan Hite, Dennis Horwood, Tania Millen, Sheila Peters, Laura Sapergia, Melissa Sawatsky, Matt J. Simmons, Allison Smith, Jeremy Stewart, Conrad Thiessen, Wade Wilson

National Advertising sandra@northword.ca

Amanda Follett Hosgood Contributing Editor amanda@northword.ca

Facundo Gastiazoro is a graphic designer,

illustrator and animator. Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Facundo is currently living in Smithers.

Morgan Hite has lived in Smithers for 20 years, makes maps, goes hiking, gets lost, writes articles, reads things and dreams about travel.

Jo Boxwell is a writer and film editor based in Prince George, currently working on her first novel.

Sheila Peters is a writer and publisher

living in Driftwood Canyon near Smithers. Her current project is a celebration of living 40 years beside Driftwood Creek. To find out how you can contribute, go to sheilapeters.com/blog.

Emily Bulmer is a longtime Smithereen

who enjoys subjecting herself to unscientific experiments in living. She occasionally records her findings and reports positive results most of the time.

Dennis Horwood has a keen interest in

bats, birds, and bugs. If it flies, it is worth taking a closer look.

Laura Sapergia lives in the unceded territories of the Lheidli T'enneh. Her company Home Sweet Home supports the growth of local economy by encouraging the establishment of independent food businesses. She enjoys outdoor adventures with her dogs and her 11-year-old daughter.

8 May/June 2017

DISTRIBUTORS Ainsley Brown, Frances Riley, Richard Haley, Jen Harvey ADVERTISING SALES Sandra Smith, sandra@northword.ca Matt J. Simmons, matt@northword.ca DISTRIBUTION We distribute 10,000 copies six times a year to over 300 locations in 33 communities across northern BC, reaching close to 30,000 readers. For a complete list of distribution locations or to request copies at your retail/public location, send an email to ads@northword.ca. SUBSCRIPTION To receive Northword Magazine in your mailbox, or to give it away to a friend, please complete the subscription process on our website. With a minimum number of subscribers, Northword can belong to professional associations offering advantageous insurance premiums, and therefore keep our advertising rates low. CONTRIBUTIONS We’re always happy to hear from new writers and photographers who have a unique perspective and a northern story to tell. Have a look at our submissions guidelines on the website, or send an email to editor@northword.ca and we'll send you a copy. If you want to comment on any story you find in the magazine, there’s a spot for that on the website, or send us a letter. Letters to the Editor may be printed in the magazine, but will be edited for taste and length. ONLINE Find articles past and present, photos, audio, and more at northword.ca and check us out on Facebook & Instagram.



The Northword article by Norma Kerby about creating moose habitat (Gimme Shelter, Winter 2016-17) resonated on a deep level with me. This article made me think about how I can participate more fully as an animal in the landscape that I take so much from. Beyond hunting and fishing I eat cranberries, huckleberries, blueberries, drink chaga tea, nibble on spruce tips, savour morels, chanterelles and pine mushrooms, heat my house with wood, drink beautiful clear water, and breathe the air. I hadn't thought too much about giving back. I feed the soil in my garden, but why don't I bring ashes from my fireplace to the places where I cut next year's wood? I return sockeye spines to the river, but why don't I prune to promote winter feeding zones for the ungulates that I hunt? I'm currently reading a book called Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer, an indigenous writer and professor of Environmental and Forest Biology. Her book braids together these three forms of knowledge in ways that empower the reader to engage more fully in life. She explores the Christian story of humans being expelled from the Garden of Eden alongside the Mohawk creation story of Skywoman falling to the earth with her seeds and branches. A story of exile and a story of belonging. I highly suggest this book to anybody curious about relationship to place and knowledge. I sit with this book and Norma's article, and think curiously about the ways I can give back and my responsibilities to be part of the ever-evolving renewal of the world.

It was upsetting to hear that there are still people who get some kind of sadistic pleasure from killing bears. Your article (The Grizzly Business, March/April 2017) addressed the fact that most people in BC oppose this, especially when the animals are killed just for their heads. But did you really need to use the word 'harvesting' to describe this slaughter? This word was conjured up by hunters to create the illusion that, instead of snuffing out the lives of intelligent, conscious beings, they are somehow 'harvesting' a 'crop'. It's much the same as the phrase 'collateral damage' used by the US military to describe the death of civilians. Moreover, these people are not hunting for trophies; they are hunting for the dismembered heads of these poor creatures. Maybe Northword can be a force for good in the world, using honest language rather than euphemisms.

Benjamin Laurie New Hazelton



Q ua l i t y

Dr. Peter Andrews Haida Gwaii

hunters, we will not have wildlife. Funding management programs would not be necessary and therefore the natural world would be on its own. Some think that would be very nice: nature doing its own thing. But isn’t it fantasy? Yvonne Christensen Oona River

Northword welcomes your thoughts on our stories. You can send us letters the old-fashioned way or email editor@northword.ca. You can also find us on Facebook, Instagram, and on our website, where you'll find a place to add your comments to individual articles. Letters/comments may be edited for length and clarity.

FANTASY OR FACT? I particularly liked Dan Mesec’s article on the grizzly business (March/April 2017) because the outfitter’s opinion was expressed. I believe that BC should not be managed with the same broad brush. The province is a huge collection of diverse management units. Each area is unique and we need to respect that. We must hire good environmental managers and let them do their job. Also, it was so refreshing to read Alissa MacMullin write about learning to shoot, to hunt deer (Taking Aim, March/April 2017). Hunting has become so unpopular that I have worried about the welfare of our wilderness. A strong argument has been made that without



Community SuCCeSS.

L O C AT E D I N S M I T H E R S & S E R V I N G T H E R E G I O N • 2 5 0 . 8 4 7 . 4 3 2 5 • W W W. E D M I S O N M E H R . C A

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Northwest Community Co Field Schools • Summer 2017 Relationships & Language: Truth & Reconciliation in North Western BC Prince Rupert • May 2 - 15 Skeena Watershed Ecosystems Terrace • May 8 - 20

Visit nwcc.ca/field-schools

Haida Gwaii Terrace & Haida Gwaii • May 29 - June 16

People of the Skeena Terrace & Hazelton • Aug 8 - 13

Rural Challenges in Marketing Terrace • July 31 - Aug 17

Icefields to Oceans Terrace & Alaska • Aug 14 - Sept 1

Register today!


nwcc.ca 1.877.277.2288


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10 May/June 2017





Sarah Artis Say something interesting and Sarah Artis will eat your brain; her favourite thing to do is ask a million and two questions. Day to day, Sarah runs Sarah & Company Communications in Terrace. You will also see her lugging two scruffy children around town, or on a nearby mountain trail, lecturing them about gratitude, the healing powers of nature. Find her at sarahartis.com. Tania Millen Tania is a horse-crazy mid-life adult who pursues adventures wherever they arise. From backyard explorations to four-legged journeys, offbeat experiences to mindmeaderings, everything’s a muse. She’s also an environmental scientist by training, wilderness expeditionist by choice, multi-book author for her self-esteem, and sometimes job holder by necessity. Read more at taniamillen.com. Melissa Sawatsky Melissa is a writer who lives on unceded Witsuwit'en territory in Smithers, BC where she works at the Smithers Public Library and the Bulkley Valley Research Centre. She also serves on the board of the Bulkley Valley Community Arts Council and facilitates creative writing workshops for teens. She has an MFA in creative writing from UBC and her work has appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals.


Joseph Crawford Joseph is an outdoor and underwater photographer and filmmaker based on Haida Gwaii. Joe is inspired by the movement of water—rivers, surf breaks, tides, and open ocean. Joe aims to share his love for natural spaces by connecting viewers into these soul-feeding experiences. His films have been screened at the Banff Mountain Film Festival, Air Canada In-Flight Entertainment and The Explorers Club Film Festival. See more of his work at braidfilms.com. Talon Gillis Talon has a passion for photographing people. He combines the beauty and excitement of being outside with a relatable human element that allows the viewer to identify with his images. It's not the first time one of his photos has graced our cover, and it probably won't be the last. Check him out at talongillis.com. Allison Smith Allison Smith is a writer and filmmaker living and working on Haida Gwaii. She combines her background in community economic development with her love of creative storytelling, to showcase immersive stories of nature, mental health, women empowerment and community. She’s always up to learn something new, especially over a game of crib and a cup of coffee. Find her on Instagram: @allisonjoannesmith or braidfilms.com.

May/June 2017


Celebrate 150 • Saturday July 1st 2017 • Prince George





JULY 1 st, 2017


CASH PRIZES up to $2000 TREASURE HUNT On-River GRAND PRIZE Clipper Canoe!

to register & get more info:

www.northernhardwarepgcanoerace.ca 12 May/June 2017

i l l u s t r a t i o n : f a c u n d o g a s t i a z o ro

Join the race or come to watch as paddlers of all ages and abilities get out and celebrate our waterways!


i l l u s t r a t i o n : f a c u n d o g a s t i a z o ro

You know the sensation of submerging your head under water? The

sudden change in pressure, the transformation of sounds. It’s not necessarily quieter—depends on where you’re dunking—but submersion is entering another world. A world where you exist in isolation. I grew up on the ocean. My childhood was full of sand, salt water, and swimming. I have been called a fish. Memories of being tossed by waves, of holding my breath for what felt like an eternity, and of looking up from the dark to see light filtering through the gentle movement of the world’s largest body of water. The peacefulness of it, and the solitude. I live in a mountain town now, away from the tides and the surf, and I get my underwater fix in lakes and rivers—and the bathtub. For a few weightless seconds, my thoughts float away and I’m alone with the moment. To this day, the submersion of my entire body into water feels better than taking a deep breath. Maybe it’s home. Or maybe I just like being alone. Collaboration generally requires communication and, while I might carry a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to the written word, I spend most of my time in my own head. I plan by thinking, not by talking. I’m not totally useless when it comes to teamwork—and I do love a good brainstorming session—but I generally fly solo. And I’m okay with that. If I ever start to worry about it too much, I just need someone like Aldous Huxley to reassure me: “The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.” Thanks, Hux, I feel much better now. But it makes me curious: what drives this craving for alone-ness? Is it the same thing that urges me to seek out interactions with like-minded humans from time to

time? A need, in other words? Or could it, in the context of collaboration on projects and such, be fear? Working with others often means giving up control and surrendering yourself to the end product. Collaboration is the dissolution of pride. The immersion of individuality into a sea of ideas. It’s also hard work. Coordination of multiple individuals, as anyone who has had to wrangle busy folks together for a meeting knows, can be a pain in the ass. There’s a lot of freedom in isolation. But it’s, well, isolating. Honoré de Balzac put it best, when he wrote, “Solitude is fine, but you need someone to tell solitude is fine.” [sic] And collaboration, as Aristotle famously said, produces results: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” When people come together and share ideas, good things happen. Like this magazine, for one. Prior to publication, a group of proofreaders pores over every page, combing its contents for troublesome typos and errant commas. And each element of every issue—from a bite-sized review to a full-length feature, an illustration to the cover photo—is an act of collaboration by talented, creative contributors. Each one working in isolation. Collaboration, then, doesn’t exclude a desire to be alone. In fact, we work together—while alone—all the time. Voting is a good example. So let’s do it, let’s work together and make something bigger and better than I can do on my own. Give me a call and we can collaborate. Just don’t expect me to answer if I’m in the bath—my head will be under the water. — Matt J. Simmons

May/June 2017




14 May/June 2017

together. “Because we all understand the challenges, that strong community is important, and as northwe work really hard to make collaborations happen.” erners we can all agree that the firm ties we have to Despite being busy with individual endeavours, each other is what makes this place special. The spirit Wheelhouse, Sherwood Mountain, Three Ranges, and of these breweries teaming up is a great example of our Barkerville brought something new to the BC craft beer communities coming together to make the north a market. “Nowhere else in BC are breweries coming better place to live. together to package product together,” say Outhet with — Laura Sapergia pride. “You’ll often see collaboration brews but this is four different breweries putting their own product in a sampler box.” For Outhet, the objective is “to raise the profile of craft beer to people living in northern BC and make people in the Lower Mainland extremely jealous.” The extra work that goes into this project is absolutely worthwhile, says Darryl Tucker of Terrace’s Sherwood Mountain Brewhouse. “The collaboration pack gives us an opportunity to go to market with a four-pack that includes four ‘harder-toget’ beers,” he says. The hope is that more exposure to offerings made up here will inspire northerners to have pride in their breweries and bring attention to the north as a whole, adds Lewis. The collaborative project is already getting attention from folks down south, though there aren’t any plans to expand distribution—yet. Top: Prince Rupert's Wheelhouse Brewing is always busy. Above: When it comes to living in The "4 The North" collaboration pack. northern BC, there’s no doubt

photo: murray foubister

Craft beer breweries from Prince Rupert, Terrace, Quesnel, and Valemount are overcoming the challenges of doing business in the north by working together. The “4 The North Collaboration Pack” is a four-beer mix pack, with each brewery contributing one 650 mL bottle. If you haven’t seen the packs around, that’s because sales have been brisk, testament to the popularity of the project and evidence of the continued success of craft breweries. The collaboration is effectively shrinking the space between our towns while making it easier for locals to get their hands on seasonal beer offerings from around the region. Beer producers in northern BC agree that education and geography are the biggest challenges. “Craft beer culture isn’t huge up here yet and the majority of the population hasn’t been exposed to it—so beer education is a big part of the job,” says general manager Justine Pelletier of Quesnel’s Barkerville Brewing. Owner and brewer Craig Outhet of Prince Rupert’s Wheelhouse Brewing points out that the geography of the north can make things tricky. “Brewing 1700 km away from Vancouver does add time and cost,” he says. “The cost of getting ingredients and equipment up to us is extraordinary.” While these challenges create financial pressure on northern breweries, making beer in the north is something special. “You can form a close connection to your community,” says Outhet. “Our customers are our friends and neighbours, which means we get incredible support”. Owner and brewer Michael Lewis of Three Ranges Brewing in Valemount adds that those connections extend further than a town’s boundaries. “The north is very much like a small town,” he says. Lewis says the shared experience of living and brewing in a remote location brings northern breweries closer

p h o t o s : t o p : w h e e l h o u s e b re w i n g ; l e f t : l u k e m i k l e r / v a n p o u r s . c o m

Northern BC breweries team up to quench thirst across the region


LLGAAYGWU¨ SDIIHLDA Restoring balance in Gwaii Haanas

photo: murray foubister

p h o t o s : t o p : w h e e l h o u s e b re w i n g ; l e f t : l u k e m i k l e r / v a n p o u r s . c o m

Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and

the Haida Nation are poised to launch a large restoration ecology project in Gwaii Haanas—the eradication of Sitka black-tailed deer. On Haida Gwaii, the deer are an invasive species that were brought to the islands in the 1800s and early 1900s. “Invasive deer are the number one threat to the cultural and ecological integrity of Gwaii Haanas,” explains Robyn Irvine, restoration manager for Gwaii Haanas. The deer have no predators in the region and have become overpopulated throughout the archipelago. If you drive the highway or the logging roads near Port Clements you’ll see tens if not hundreds of the tiny deer grazing in ditches and on the forest undergrowth. “They have had devastating impacts on native plants and bird species,” explains Irvine. The deer are decimating forest undergrowth, disrupting ecosystem dynamics and reducing cover for other mammals. In response, the Llgaaygwü sdiihlda: Restoring Balance project aims to eradicate the deer on the islands of Hotspring, Ramsay, Murchison, Faraday, House, and Bischofs in Gwaii Haanas between April and September this year. Professional marksmen have already arrived on Haida Gwaii to train locals. The goal: reduce the population from 400 to 0. The culled deer will be processed locally and some of the meat will be made available to community food programs such as Meals on Wheels and the Local Food to School program. Restoration interventions are usually based on historic knowledge of the area. But there’s often debate around what point in history to restore a landscape to. As nature continues to evolve, so do cultures; how humans interact with nature, even with invasive

species, can change over time. What is of cultural importance in the past, present and future? And what point in history, if any at all, should we restore to? To better understand, deer exclosures have been built throughout Gwaii Haanas, giving a glimpse into an environment without deer. “They show the complex and diverse ground cover, shrub layer and young trees emerging from the earth,” says Irvine. The basic idea is to create a reference state and gain insight into what the environment could look, feel and sound like prior to deer introduction, and how native plants could flourish in the future. “The research done on Kunga Island by Jean-Louis Martin demonstrated that even within a small space, songbirds that had not been seen elsewhere on the island appeared in the enclosure when they had habitat,” says Irvine.

Eradication and culls have a history of being controversial. Plus, since restoration ecologists consider the societal and cultural implications of a restoration project, a complex values-based debate can ensue. “From the beginning, Haida cultural and community considerations have been central to the planning and development of the project,” says Irvine. In this case, she adds, many plants and trees important in Haida arts and culture could return to the area. On the flip side, the invasive species itself currently provides community and cultural benefits. Over the last century deer have become a staple in local diet; hide is used for drums, and hooves for instruments. Which is part of why the deer aren’t being eradicated from all of Haida Gwaii. There’s a balance.

at the festival! u o y e e S

— Allison Smith

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May/June 2017




Discovering one of BC's largest bat colonies

Bats have been living in the Kitimat townsite

for decades. Residents have long reported bats foraging around street lights, hiding under cedar shingles or occasionally finding their way into attics. The sightings were almost always of one or two individuals. So, when the District of Kitimat announced the demolition of the 60-year-old Cadet Hall, no one was quite prepared for what followed. The Cadet Hall was a long, narrow building originally designed as a bunkhouse in the 1950s. Although once a busy place, the hall had been more or less abandoned for about 10 years. Unbeknownst to nearly everyone, however, some new seasonal tenants had moved in. One long-time Kitimat resident knew there were more than a few dozen bats living in the Kildala neighbourhood. During his evening walks, he noticed numerous bats flying at dusk amongst the trees and buildings. His curiosity took over. With patience and many nightly observations, he tracked the bats back to the gabled ends of the hall.

Knowing the hall’s demolition was imminent, he contacted the Kitimat Valley Naturalists to alert its members about the bats. Within 24 hours, an evening vigil was enacted. Two members stood patiently at each end of the hall and counted bats as they emerged for their evening foray. No one but the counters could believe the numbers. At least 1,500 bats left the building in 30 minutes. On subsequent nights with additional observers, the number of nocturnal mammals leaving the roost remained consistent. The original count was correct—this was a huge colony of bats. The confirmation of such large numbers triggered both interest and concern. At least two different species were using the roost and the naturalist group wondered if the little brown myotis, listed as endangered in the Species at Risk Act, was present. What would happen to these bats when the building was demolished? Immediate action was required. The Kitimat council, District of Kitimat staff, and the BC Community Bat Program were notified.

Knowledgeable bat biologists said this was likely a maternity roost, meaning the bats would be females with young. Since newborn pups don’t fly right away, the actual bat numbers would be much higher. This was one of the largest bat colonies in the province. Kitimat Naturalists and district staff quickly agreed that expert advice on how to mitigate the loss of bat habitat was needed. Enter Felix Martinez, a Vancouverbased bat expert. After two days of on-site observations and discussions, Martinez recommended that two bat condos be built and located as close as possible to the old hall. Bat condos are considerably smaller than an attic but are designed to accommodate large numbers of bats. House-like in outward appearance, they’re filled with dozens of baffles for roosting as well as passageways for entering and exiting. The whole structure is mounted on five-metre wooden posts in a location with plenty of sunlight and unobstructed flight paths. Bats like to be warmed by solar radiation and usually avoid branches or other obstacles that inhibit easy access to a roost. Martinez also suggested the condos should be completed well before the bats return and March 31 was set as the target date to have everything in place. In less than five months, Kitimat council authorized funding, the design was chosen, and a contractor was hired to build two units. In late March, mild weather presented the first good opportunity to dig the holes, pour concrete, and erect the condos. The bats will return, but it’s uncertain if they will make the transition to a new roost. To encourage them to adopt the new home, weathered wood from the walls and attic of the Cadet Hall was incorporated into the condos during construction. Bat guano was also spread inside to help mask the smell of fresh plywood and maybe act as a fragrant attraction. Will these “tricks” work? For now, we wait.

16 May/June 2017

p h o t o s : c h r i s w a g n e r, m i c a h g re e n

Above: The little brown bat. Left: One of the bat condos erected late March.

p h o t o s : f a r l e f t : D e n n i s H o r w o o d ; l e f t : U S F W S / A n n F ro s c h a u e r

— Dennis Horwood



Collaborations on experimental music

p h o t o s : c h r i s w a g n e r, m i c a h g re e n

p h o t o s : f a r l e f t : D e n n i s H o r w o o d ; l e f t : U S F W S / A n n F ro s c h a u e r

Free improvisation with

jazz roots. “New music” evolved from the classical tradition. Post-rock. Electronic noise. A performance piece woven from the sounds emitted by winter outerwear (think rolling zips, popping snaps and fat gloves clapping). Playing a heavily amplified electric guitar across the Fraser River to an audience standing on the opposite bank. Musicians releasing notes around the ruins of an old house while those gathered in the surrounding park are encouraged to hum the ones they catch. These are all experiences Jeremy Stewart might describe as “serious play,” and they have all found a home at Casse-Tête, an experimental music festival he delivers annually in Prince George. “If it’s something you wouldn’t hear on the radio, it’s something you can hear at our festival,” Stewart says of the diverse programming. Since 2013, he has been attracting 50-60 artists to the city each year to participate in performances, panel discussions and workshops. Collaboration has been critical to the success of the festival, not only with community partners such as the City of Prince George, The Exploration Place and Theatre Northwest, but also between members of the CasseTête board and, of course, the artists themselves. Coming from BC and beyond, about half of the artists in attendance any given year have performed at the festival before, allowing Stewart to build on existing relationships and reap the rewards when those artists spread the word to others in their respective fields. Big-name friends of the festival, such as the notable Canadian composer Rodney Sharman and free jazz musician Stanley Jason Zappa (nephew of Frank Zappa) have brought others into the fold who are, by Stewart’s definition, “A-listers of the most artistic side of the mainstream music industry.” Zappa, for instance, introduced the Jooklo Duo to the event, a highly regarded pair who have collaborated with the likes of John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin and Sonic Youth. One of Casse-Tête’s most memorable artistic collaborations came about when Zappa joined three other renowned BC saxophonists (Darren Williams, Jonathon Wilcke and Shane Krause) to form a saxophone quartet. The project was so successful they’re planning to develop a tour out of it. Stewart appreciates the generosity of these artists in supporting Casse-Tête and bringing new musical experiences to the North, and in the spirit of reciprocity the festival has something to offer in return (aside from enthusiastic audiences). The organizers do as much as possible to help artists realize their visions. “Whatever resources we have, we’ll throw at it,” says Stewart. “If there’s something they want to bring about, we’re going to do the heavy lifting to make sure we can make it happen.” Stewart and his team have proven their willingness to go above and beyond to see artists’ unique visions materialized. In 2014, Peter Stevenson, a piano tuner and festival board member, wanted to give a defunct piano a final send-off, and it certainly got one, with a crowd of over 300 people watching it plummet from the roof of The Exploration Place. As it turns out, there’s a lot of red tape involved in dropping a piano off a roof. The team required a 100-foot crane, no small amount of hoop-jumping with regards to permits and insurance, a security fence with accompanying guard, and a ramp to get the piano off the roof without damaging the building. Attendees of this year’s festival can look forward to another ambitious project from Stevenson, this time in collaboration with fellow board member José Delgado-Guevara. The pair is planning to strip the harps from three pianos for a piece that

Clockwise from top: Pg9o9 (Oro Barton) performs at the 2016 festival; Peter Stevenson gives an old piano a final send-off; Prince George experimental noise band, Christians; Jooklo Zappa improvising. May/June 2017



idea,” he says, “but we actually think that if people give it a try, they would find a lot to like.” Musical preferences aside, it’s clear that he and his collaborators have accomplished a lot since the festival’s inception. Stewart is a firm believer that those in the North have a right to be able to access the arts. “Having the good things of life in the place where you live is something that we northerners deserve as much as people who live in big cities.”

July 1 to 8, 2017 Canada Games Plaza Prince George

www.princegeorge.ca/canada150 18 May/June 2017

L to R: Jose Delgado-Guevara, Allison Bell and Sebastian Ostertag. Casse-Tête: A Festival of Experimental Music returns to Prince George from June 15 to 18 at Theatre Northwest. All events are free to attend.

— Jo Boxwell


Bruce Cockburn, Delhi 2 Dublin, Shred Kelly, April Verch Trio, Cécile Doo-Kingué, The Paperboys, Rachelle Van Zanten, Don Amero, Charlotte & Matt Diamond ...and many more! The City of Prince George & the Prince George Folkfest Society (the folks that bring you Coldsnap), with help from The Government of Canada bring you eight days of FREE, LIVE MUSIC to celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial!

photo: chris wagner

Delgado-Guevara will compose. The harp is essentially the guts of the piano, so getting one out of such a cumbersome instrument is a challenge in itself, as is composing a piece of music with the innards of three pianos. Despite the work involved in making these performances happen, this is one aspect of the festival Stewart evidently loves. “Doing something with those huge logistics is amazing to be able to do.” He admits that some people might find the concept of experimental music a bit challenging. “It’s a niche

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May/June 2017


20 May/June 2017

photos (L to R): wade wilson, phil cornwall

by Melissa Sawatsky

Artnerships In Prince George, Studio 2880 serves as a bustling hub of the arts community. The building is a complex that accommodates the Prince George and District Community Arts Council, the Prince George Community Radio Society, the Prince George Symphony Orchestra, several guilds, and rental space for local not-for-profit organizations. Studio 2880 also houses the Artisan Gift Shoppe, which serves as a point-ofentry for many artists and artisans in the community to display and sell their pottery, wood carvings, jewellery, fibre art, visual art, and a variety of other handmade items. Lisa Redpath is the Project Manager of the Prince George and District Community Arts Council. Nestled within Studio 2880, the council serves as an umbrella organization for the Prince George arts community, and organizes four signature events every year: the 6 by 6 Auction, the Spring Arts Bazaar, the Art Battle Live Painting Competition, and the Studio Fair.

photo: phil cornwall

Creative Connections


rtistic expression is often isolating—a visual artist, writer, or musician wrestles alone with an idea and the medium through which it will be expressed. But there are times when a creative endeavour is augmented and enlivened by collaboration and partnership. In Prince Rupert, artists and artisans working in various mediums bring their skills together in an annual Creative Jam. A storyteller, musician, and visual artist join forces in Smithers, each lending a unique skill and stylistic approach to a theatrical production that celebrates fiddle music from across the globe. In Prince George, visual artists are invited to enter into “Artnerships,” an evolving program that provides space for revolving public art displays. These projects illustrate how the arts serve to build bridges both within and across communities, and spark the exploration and expression of identity and ideas.

photos (L to R): wade wilson, phil cornwall

photo: phil cornwall

Artnerships began in 2015 when the Canada Winter Games was hosted by Prince George. The program became permanent and now serves as an extension of the local art gallery, creating another avenue for artists to place their work in the community. This juried, application-based program connects local institutions and businesses with regional artists through an ongoing, rotating display of visual art. Artnership exhibitions are currently on display at the Prince George airport and City Hall. While the dedicated spaces at the airport and City Hall are appropriate for largescale pieces, Redpath is exploring opportunities to expand the program into smaller spaces, such as local offices and businesses. This expansion needs to be taken slowly, due to security and contract issues for both the artist and business. Nonetheless, she is thinking big. “We are currently in talks with Tourism Prince George to develop an exciting new opportunity for getting local art into the public eye,” she says. Artnerships not only offers regional artists exposure and potential income (every piece is for sale), it also facilitates an underlying human motivation for artistic expression: to make an impact. “When people come into the community, these exhibits provide them with a clear impression of the artists that reside here,” Redpath says. The application form itself gives the artist an opportunity to “define the critical conversation [they] want to engage through [their] art.” Through Artnerships, the Prince George and District Community Arts Council has created room for artists to engage in both individual and communal expressions of identity and ideas in the public space. Creative Jam In March, the Prince Rupert Community Arts Council (PRCAC) held their 8th annual Creative Jam at the Lester Centre for the Arts. The facility boasts a spacious lobby, several meeting rooms, a rehearsal room, and a state-of-the-art stage, each of

which are used throughout the weekend for multidisciplinary workshops and a final exhibition/performance. Creative Jam was originally conceived and spearheaded by Prince Rupert musician, Peter Witherly, as a way to bring together artisticallyinclined people to explore creativity in a safe, supportive environment. This year, Sarah Ridgway and Chantal Cornwall each took on key roles coordinating Creative Jam, which has steadily grown and expanded to include more workshops and participants. The workshops on offer vary from year to year, depending on feedback from former participants and the availability of skilled facilitators. This year’s workshops included photography with Talon Gillis, watercolour with Nicole Best Rudderham, quilting with Bettina Matzkuhn, Salish fusion knitting with Sylvia Olsen, stained glass with Urve Manuel, and gospel choir with Bill Sample, Marcus Mosley and Darlene Ketchum. Every year, participants are prompted by a theme that isn't revealed until the first day of the workshop. This year's theme was “a little madness in the spring,” a quote from a poem by Emily Dickinson. “The intention of the theme is to provide a guide or vision for the event that presents a challenge for each workshop,” says Ridgway. “Participants can take it literally, figuratively, or symbolically.” Responses were woven through the various workshops as artists tried new techniques, or explored concepts of renewal and re-growth. Cornwall, who participated in the photography workshop, says they “brought in the madness aspect by creating outrageous photo opportunities and playing with isolation, light, and shade.” Creative Jam culminates in an exhibition/performance in the stage area of the Lester Centre. Visual art and photography is displayed and music and/or writing is performed or shared with the audience. This part of the weekend is open to the public, and Ridgway says it is always “a lively community event with attendees May/June 2017


spanning across generations.” Like so many small-town collaborations, Creative Jam comes together through grant fundraising, community donations and countless volunteers. Eagle Bluff B&B and Pioneer Guesthouse generously offered discounts to participants and facilitators who were visiting from out of town. Cornwall and Ridgway insist that without these volunteer efforts and accommodation discounts, the event would not be possible budget-wise. “The team makes it. It all falls into place with the right people and the right space,” Cornwall says. While Creative Jam continues to grow each year, it hasn't strayed from its original intention to create an opportunity for creative collaboration. According to Ridgway and Cornwall, the event fosters a supportive environment that invariably leads to both mentorship and friendship between participants. “To survive and thrive in an isolated community, you need to reach out,” says Cornwall. “Creative Jam encourages people to open that door.”

Prince George artist Corey Hardeman works on a piece. Her work is displayed at the Prince George airport as part of the Artnerships project.

MacMillan says, “the celebratory, international flavour of the show provides a great counterpoint to what's going on in the world right now.” Musical contributions and arrangements were brought to the Valley Youth Fiddlers by James Stephens, Gordon Stobbe, Jaron Freeman-Fox, Adrian Dolan, Emilyn Stam, Tirion Lloyd-Grice, and Jake Jenne. There will be 88 musicians touring the show and more than 90 on-stage for the performances in

The Valley Youth Fiddlers rehearse for Alaria's Fiddle, a multi-faceted production.

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Smithers, where the cast of Alaria's Fiddle will be joined by the Moricetown Fiddlers—an ensemble that Valley Youth Fiddlers' alumna (and Olympic rower), Antje von Seydlitz, has been working with. The inclusion of former members of the Valley Youth Fiddlers, as well as the Moricetown Fiddlers, exemplifies the cross-cultural, community-minded nature of the show. “It's wonderful to build that bridge and find others who love what you love,” MacMillan says of their collaboration with musicians from Moricetown. Facundo Gastiazoro was brought in to create visual support for the story through animation, design, and motion graphics. He took his creative direction from the story, allowing the narrative to trigger and justify the imagery and, by extension, help make the music relevant. Gastiazoro refers to the animation as “minimalistic acting that helps the audience relate to Alaria, and provides an oneiric representation of the music.” Williston adds that the narration, music, and animation are layered over and under one another, and the audience is invited to provide their own interpretation of the story. Alaria's Fiddle is an impressive, multimedia production that came together thanks to the hard work of a large team of community members who contributed countless volunteer hours to every element of the show. Alaria's Fiddle will premiere in Smithers on May 5th & 6th at the Della Herman Theatre, followed by a tour of the province, including shows in Prince George (May 12th), North Vancouver (May 14th), Sechelt (May 15th), Qualicum Beach (May 17th), and Victoria (May 19th).

p h o t o s : t o p : c o u r t e s y c o re y h a rd e m a n ; l e f t : w a d e w i l s o n

Alaria's Fiddle Over the past year, the Valley Youth Fiddlers have been hard at work developing an ambitious, large-scale production called Alaria's Fiddle. The original idea was to explore fiddle music from around the world as a follow-up to their previous touring show, The Fiddler's History of Canada, which was a resounding success. The new show was conceived and written by Smithers-based Patrick Williston. “I thought we should try to tie the music together with a fable or fairy tale—to take the audience along on a magical, musical journey,” Williston says. He and his family spend a lot of time sailing on the coast, so his experiences at sea inform the story. “I was thinking of the way the ocean links so many cultures around the world,” he explains. “So a story about a young lighthouse keeper slowly took shape.” As the Musical Director of Alaria's Fiddle, LeslieJean MacMillan is responsible for orchestrating the flow of both traditional arrangements and original compositions from a number of visiting musicians. The show boasts an international score that includes songs from Canada, United States, Brazil, Sweden, Norway, Moldova, Pakistan, India, Mali, and Australia. Amidst a global political climate dominated by divisive, discriminatory rhetoric and anti-constitutional executive orders being handed down in the United States,

above below

p h o t o s : t o p : c o u r t e s y c o re y h a rd e m a n ; l e f t : w a d e w i l s o n

photos by Joseph Crawford


ripping the rocky edge he calculates and times his entrance into the temperamental water. Remembering the last time he was here, he scans the shorebreaks and jutting coastline to hypothesize what lies below. Fins are mandatory to have a chance against changing currents and potential riptides. Without the aid of scuba equipment, he’s reliant on his own mental strength and lung capacity. “You become highly aware of your breathing; it changes from being automatic to self-regulating,” says underwater photographer and recreational freediver Joseph Crawford. This way of breathing feels unnatural at first, but quickly becomes an addictive, nurturing practice. “With time and focus, you learn to control your mental state so you don’t panic,” Joseph explains. Bobbing at the surface to a rhythmic swell, salt water peels off his forehead. Like a needle injecting anaesthetic, the cold infiltrates his jawbone, shooting down the curvature of his spine. A slow tread of water to calm his breath, his adrenaline, and his mind. Deep belly inhales of oxygen, pausing, and long releasing exhales of unwanted carbon dioxide. Filling every fold of his lungs so that when he’s ready, he can spend as much time as possible below the surface. And with one last relaxed inhale he crosses the boundary of above to below. His heart rate slows as the rhythm of the surface waves are no longer dictating his every move. The groundswell rocks

back and forth as he begins to descend. “And then you feel nothing, no waves, no movement, just a sense of unknown.” Joseph explains. The blood rushes from his extremities to his core as he enters the depths of the darkness. His muscles relax from his shoulders to his toes allowing him to glide with an eel-like ease into the meditative sound chambers of another world. Time slows down in the secluded underwater world where the terrain is jagged. Silence wraps around the freediver as he explores the underwater architecture made up of cracks, caves and crevices. “You’re engulfed by this intimate experience— between you and the ocean,” says Joseph. Leaving calmer waters, a cloud of white passes above as waves begin to break. The glassy ceiling turns to a series of geometric lines pulling and suspending the thick-skinned freediver before he makes a break for the surface. Learning to relax your muscles, to slow your breathing, and to surrender to the sea is not only a mental challenge but an ontological experience. One second you’re surrounded by barren sea beds scattered with sea urchins, the next you’re sinking past kelp forests dancing in the waves while your thoughts of the other world are left floating at the surface. — Allison Smith

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Caribou Conundrum The ongoing fight to save the Telkwa caribou herd

28 May/June 2017


was 13 when I first saw a caribou in the wild. I was on a week-long hiking summer camp in the Telkwa mountains with five other teens and two leaders. The trip took us up the old, rutted mine road to Hunter Basin, then across the wind-blasted ridge to the “camel humps.” We spent a few days in each camp spot, exploring and testing our skills as we moved our way across the alpine. One morning, I was washing the breakfast dishes near a shallow alpine lake when I saw a strange reflection in the water. Realizing I wasn’t alone, I looked up. From the thin branching antlers and the cream and brown coat, I knew I was looking right into the eyes a caribou. I was confused though, as I looked around for more. Caribou travel in vast herds, don’t they? They live in the high arctic, stampeding over rolling tundra. I couldn't see or hear any other animals. It stared at me, curious, sent a shot of steamy breath across the water, then turned and disappeared into the fog. Amazed, I wondered how it was possible that I didn't know caribou lived here?

Culture of the caribou In the not-so-distant past, caribou existed in large numbers throughout the Bulkley Valley. Witsuwit’en elders tell stories of herds moving across the land from Topley to the Telkwa mountains to Moricetown and Hazelton. David deWit, natural resource

photos: paul colangelo

The Telkwa caribou herd has dwindled down to just over a dozen animals. Here, we explore different perspectives on the issue. First, Emily Bulmer takes us back to her childhood and looks at a Witsuwit'en perspective. Then, Amanda Follett Hosgood gives us a glimpse of what's being done at a government level.

photos: paul colangelo

manager for the Office of the Wet’suwet’en (OW), describes the importance of caribou to the Witsuwit’en people. “Caribou were the dominate ungulate species on the landscape and were second to salmon as the primary protein source for food. There would be locations—for example Grassy Mountain in the North Babines— where young people would herd or stampede the caribou into a pinch point where there would be snares set. Elders and hunters would be there to harvest and dress the caribou.” There was good meat to be had, of course, but the bones were also used for tools and the hides for clothing. “The prevalence and the dependence on caribou I believe are a part of why one of our house groups, Tsë Kal K’iyikh ‘The House on Top of Flat Rock’, has a caribou as a crest today.” deWit says there are Witsuwit’en place names in the region that reflect the presence of caribou in the

landscape, and these place names are incorporated into stories of the land that are passed on within the house groups. In one location, there are still remnants of migration trails that are four feet wide. “From the time of settlement to where we are now,” he says, “there was definitely a lot of development happening within a short period of time. All of these factors impacted their abundance. I don't think you could key into one thing.” One significant event was the flooding of the Nechako Reservoir by the Kenney Dam in the 1950s. “That posed a significant challenge when the (neighbouring) Tweedsmuir herd migrated up to the north to their breeding grounds,” explains deWit. “Normally there were streams and rivers that they could ford and now there was a deep lake. There's stories from trappers that caribou were caught up in the dead heads (as they tried to swim) and drown.”

He lists the arrival of the railway, industrial forestry, air traffic, land clearing for farms and towns, and corridors like roads and transmission lines all as contributing factors to the decline of the herd. Critical count By the time I saw my first caribou in the Telkwa mountains in 1991, the numbers were already critical. In 1965, 271 caribou were counted in an aerial survey over the Telkwa Range. Between 1993 and 1997, the most counted in a single survey was just 15 individuals. As part of a recovery effort, 12 caribou were transplanted from an outside herd in 1997, followed by another 20 in 1998/99. This temporarily boosted population numbers to at least 114 animals, but numbers declined again. A recent survey counted just 18 caribou in the area. deWit is focussed on what can be done today, and for

May/June 2017


Coin toss deWit considers the changes that have occurred on the landscape over the recent past. “Within the last 100 years, moose have come in to the area and started to fill some of the habitat niches on the landscape that were not being utilized by caribou,” he says. “What's interesting now is that there is a decline in moose populations and now we have elk in the valley that are occupying some of these habitats. These ecosystems don't remain static—things change. The Witsuwit’en word for the land is yintah, which is a small word with a whole philosophy behind it: all living beings, animals or natural vegetation or elements like water, air and soil, are all connected, and our actions as human beings have the potential to impact the natural elements around us. Activities on the landscape have actually changed the natural component of caribou as the dominant ungulate species on the landscape.” Aldo Leopold wrote of the extinct passenger pigeon in 1947: “Men still live who, in their youth, remember pigeons; trees still live who, in their youth, were shaken by a living wind. But a few decades hence only the oldest oaks will remember, and at long last only the hills will know.” Will I ever see a lone caribou in the wild again? Will a future generation watch herds thunder across the alpine, or will the caribou live with us only in stories? It feels like their survival is as precarious as a coin toss. I call “tails” hoping that they prevail, and hoping that the change in my pocket won't become an ironic epitaph to their existence. — Emily Bulmer

“How far do we go with this caribou thing before we finally realize there isn’t going to be any caribou in the Telkwa Range?” asks a man identifying himself only as Ron.

30 May/June 2017

“The Witsuwit’en word for the land is yintah, which is a small word with a whole philosophy behind it: all living beings, animals or natural vegetation or elements like water, air and soil, are all connected, and our actions as human beings have the potential to impact the natural elements around us. Activities on the landscape have actually changed the natural component of caribou as the dominant ungulate species on the landscape.” – David deWit

What good are the caribou?

The question is being posed at a public meeting in Smithers by an older gentleman who stands and directs his words to two representatives from BC’s Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO): “Instead of closing down areas for caribou, we should be opening it for tourists.” The Community Resources Board meeting, held in March, attracted about 50 people and offered a taste of discussions to come as the province prepares to open its proposed recreation access management plan in the Telkwa Range to public feedback. The topic hits a nerve that runs deep in the recreation community. About a dozen snowmobilers have filed into the back of the room and there are a smattering of hikers, skiers and other concerned citizens attending the meeting. The Telkwa caribou population has decreased rapidly over the past half-century and the reasons are up for debate. “The decline in the Telkwas is probably driven by a number of factors, although everyone looks for the smoking gun,” says FLNRO resource management director Tony Pesklevits. Human activity, of which recreation is just a small portion, takes most of the blame. Industry, agriculture and forest fires have changed the landscapes that caribou historically roamed, inviting moose and deer, which in turn have been trailed by predators like wolves. The slower-to-reproduce caribou are left vulnerable to predation. The access management plan, which proposes seasonal restrictions on motorized and non-motorized recreation in caribou habitat, is based on recommendations from the Telkwa Recreation Access Management Group, a collection of 13 stakeholders representing ATV riders, hikers, horseback riders, skiers, snowmobilers and hunters. A voluntary agreement has been in place between local recreation clubs and the provincial government, but both agree it’s time to create a formal agreement.

photo: conrad thiessen

the future. “Species are dependent upon multiple different habitats and we need to recognize that our actions have potential to affect them,” he says. “Collecting information on the state of change throughout time can create ingredients for the future to develop solutions. We might not have all the solutions today but we should gather information to pass on the future generations. We have a responsibility to provide tools so they can continue to meet their needs and continue to exercise their rights and cultural practices.” The OW is taking an active role in understanding the current state of the Telkwa caribou herd. With financial support from the Species at Risk Stewardship Program, a federal government initiative, wildlife technicians are participating in recovery efforts. Dallas Nikal is one of these technicians. “We've been doing trailhead engagement where we bring awareness to recreational users in the Telkwa mountains, monitoring, and surveys where we count the herd,” says Nikal. He also compiles data from trail cameras, and helps with mapping. Through the job he’s gaining valuable work experience in his chosen field—wildlife biology—on Witsuwit’en territory. “I've always wanted to work with caribou,” he says. “They are such a beautiful animal. I’m hoping to see their population increase because they are a part of the Witsuwit’en culture and I feel like if they die, a piece of us dies. And if they are gone, they will never come back.”

photo: conrad thiessen

Creating certainty, however, might prove more challenging. “What caribou do in the long term and what stakeholder interests do in the long term can change over time,” Pesklevits says. “Nobody knows what’s going to happen with caribou, particularly with a herd as small as the Telkwa herd.” Several snowmobilers at the meeting make it clear the province’s plan won’t get buy-in without an option to revisit it should the caribou become extirpated, or locally extinct—a distinct possibility as the Telkwa herd hovers at about 18 animals. “How far do we go with this caribou thing before we finally realize there isn’t going to be any caribou in the Telkwa Range?” asks a man identifying himself only as Ron. The question has merit: As a former guide-outfitter, Ron has seen wildlife populations ebb and flow. At what point will the province redirect its resources (some have suggested they be focused on a herd with better odds of survival) and allow nature to take its course? “It’s a pretty heavy question. It depends a lot on individual philosophy, individual ethics,” Pesklevits tells the crowd. “My personal view on it is caribou are a part

of our natural heritage we should fight to protect.” The province also has a legal obligation to protect the herd. With caribou listed as threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA), a management plan is required. A pre-election promise made by the Liberal government at the B.C. Natural Resources Forum in Prince George in February, offered $8 million this year and another $19 million over the next two years for caribou recovery. The exact allocation of those funds has yet to be determined, so it’s unknown how they may impact the Telkwa herd. According to a FLNRO representative, the ministry has spent about $290,000 on the herd since 2010, excluding staffing expenses. The Telkwa caribou’s plight isn’t unique. Caribou are declining globally and, according to a study released by the provincial and federal governments earlier this year, out of roughly 40 herds in the Southern Mountain National Ecological Area, more than half are on the decline—a number that doesn’t include five herds considered extirpated. Two herds are listed as stable and one is increasing. But while the province is in the midst of a fiveyear plan to reduce wolf numbers by shooting them

from helicopters—resulting in the loss of hundreds of animals—detractors maintain that efforts to boost caribou numbers by eliminating wolves miss the mark. Habitat loss, conservationists say, is the so-called smoking gun that isn’t being adequately addressed. A Wildlife Habitat Area (WHA) was designated in 2016 to manage the impacts of forestry on the Telkwa herd, but the caribou aren’t entirely free from the dangers of industry. In a presentation to investors dated this April, Australian company Allegiance Coal Limited claims it is “fast tracking a metallurgical coal mine into production” near Telkwa. Two of three proposed open-pit mines fall within the Northern Caribou – Telkwa Herd WHA. What good are the caribou? The public will have the opportunity to answer that question this summer, as public consultation on the Proposed Direction for Recreation Access in the Telkwa Caribou Range begins late June and continues through August in the Bulkley Valley. A request for regulation change would take place in October and regulation changes, if approved, would come into effect June 2018. Follow “Telkwa Caribou Recovery” on Facebook for updates. — Amanda Follett Hosgood May/June 2017


Oui, je parle français Is this the end of French Immersion as we know it?


ver since Madeleine Link was little, she wanted to learn French. “Maybe because I was in a French daycare,” she says. “I was really worried my parents wouldn’t let me.” But her parents did, and in 2015, Link graduated from the French Immersion program at Skeena Secondary in Terrace. She left with a Double Dogwood diploma—an English and French graduation certificate. Learning a second language has been proven to stimulate brain development, and having the ability to speak French can open the door to rewarding opportunities. In Grade 10, as part of her studies, Link and three other immersion students went on an exchange to Québec for three months. At times, the experience was difficult but Link says she learned a lot. “Overall, it was a valuable experience in terms of learning another culture,” she says. For her first year of university, Link went to Carleton in Ottawa, partly because she wanted to be in a bilingual environment. While there, she worked at a poll station during the federal election and believes her French contributed to her getting the job. Her French also came in handy while visiting friends in Montréal, and she is excited to communicate in French on future trips. “I definitely find French helpful in my degree, in humanities in general,” she says. She cites using French sources that would have otherwise been unknown to her for her schoolwork. But there are other benefits, too, Link adds. “Definitely you can list the practical advantages of speaking French,” she says, “but that’s not always the point. Through French immersion, I’ve been exposed to so many more movies and music that I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate. Honestly, English is a fine language for some things, but a lot of the time, people describe it as cold and impersonal. Sometimes I’ll be thinking of a word and I can only think of the French word because it’s a better, more expressive word.” I, too, was in French Immersion while growing up in the Lower Mainland and speaking French has been extremely valuable throughout my life. My knowledge of French has also allowed me to learn Spanish, which has similar roots and structure. My daughter is now in kindergarten at the Francophone school L’École Jack Cook in Terrace, and listening to her and her friends speak French in the playground fills me with pride and joy.

32 May/June 2017

Cuts and Consequences But some kids in northwest BC no longer have the option to study French – and there have been significant consequences as a result. Until this year, Sk'aadgaa Naay Elementary, in Skidegate on Haida Gwaii, offered French Immersion from Grades 1 through 6. In June 2016, the local school board decided to not accept any new students, ultimately leading to the dissolution of the program. As a result, three doctors are closing their practices and leaving the islands. That cuts the number of doctors on Haida Gwaii in half. One of those leaving, Dr. Andrea Willhelm, spoke about her decision in a CBC radio interview on February 2, 2017. “It's a difficult choice but I have to do what's right for my daughter," she said. Dawna Day, Superintendent for Haida Gwaii School District 50, said the school board did not make the decision lightly. “There’s always multiple factors that go into cancelling any program. It’s a complex matter so complex pieces are looked at,” she says. “The goal of the board is to overturn all stones when we consider making a change to anything in the district. “The motion that the board put forward was to continue with the same cohort of students as long as there were 12 students in that program,” Day continues. “We’ve guaranteed that it goes on next year. After that, it will be determined each spring when we look at numbers.” The French Immersion program currently has 13 students enrolled. “It’ll probably end soon,” she says. Scheduling conflicts and low enrolment, which increases program costs, were two issues that led to the board’s decision. “There was really minimal interest for a new cohort,” says Day, adding that media reports covering the story were wrong when they stated that up to 25 students were interested in starting the program next year. The district’s focus on the Haida language was another factor. “The Haida Nation have declared that only English and Haida are the official languages of Haida Gwaii,” says Day. “We respect the knowledge and culture that comes with the territory.” Teaching and learning indigenous languages is part of the truth and reconciliation

p h o t o : c re a t i v e c o m m o n s

by Sarah Artis

p h o t o : c re a t i v e c o m m o n s

of First Nations rights and culture. In recent years, many schools across northern BC have added local indigenous language to curriculum. In Prince Rupert, elementary students study the Tsimshian language, Sm'algyax. Haida Gwaii has SHIP, the Skidegate Haida Immersion Program, and all students in the district are taught some Haida. French Immersion supporters believe French programs need not take away from Aboriginal language programs. Rather, they can complement each other. Patrick Witwicki is the Executive Director of AFFNO (Association de Francophone et Francophile de Nord Ouest), an organization that supports and promotes French language and culture in northwest BC. “If you can learn three languages, you are getting a much better education than anyone who is learning two or one,” he says. “All they did with that decision was create further division. There were definitely a lot of Haida families that were against the decision as well.” The rural issue Coast Mountain School District 82 is also considering changes to its French Immersion program. Currently, three of its communities—Hazelton, Terrace and Kitimat—offer French Immersion from Kindergarten to Grade 12. Similar to Haida Gwaii, the district is worried about low enrolment—specifically in higher grades—and associated costs. Scheduling conflicts, and the recruitment and retention of qualified teachers is also a challenge. French Immersion numbers tend to drop when students transition from elementary to middle school, or middle to secondary school. There are lots of reasons for this. Students want to take electives other than French, or they want to be with their friends in English classes. Sometimes, they’re forced to choose a particular English course instead of a French one because the courses are offered simultaneously. On March 29, Coast Mountain school board trustees came close to accepting a recommendation from district staff to only offer French Immersion up to Grade 9 in Kitimat, up to Grade 7 in Hazelton, but keep it through to Grade 12 in Terrace. The motion failed, but barely. Art Erasmus of Terrace, the most insistent trustee calling for changes, is concerned about French Immersion taking money from other programs. “We have four communities, one of which doesn’t offer regular programs because there isn’t enough money,” he said at the March 29 meeting, referring to limited course offerings in Stewart. Board Chair Shar McCrory of Hazelton, imploring her colleagues to value French Immersion before the vote took place, said costs should not always trump opportunity. “If we were the voices of students in this case, the motion wouldn’t be going forward,” she said. It’s understood that losing some kids in higher grades is inevitable. “The attrition level in BC is 12 percent,” says Witwicki. But attrition has a much bigger impact in northern BC. “In rural areas, it’s a numbers game. The smaller the communities, the smaller the budget a school board has for education. This is definitely not a situation you would hear Prince George or Vancouver complain about, because they have the numbers,” he says. While French Immersion supporters are relieved Coast Mountain School District has kept its program intact, they know it’s still vulnerable. They believe much can be done to strengthen the program and keep it viable.

Canadian Parents for French (CPF) is a national network with community chapters, dedicated to the promotion and creation of French second-language learning opportunities for young Canadians. Andrea Vickers of Hazelton CPF says all three groups in the district—Terrace, Kitimat and Hazelton—pulled out all the stops to keep the program going. “We have been working our butts off to try to turn this around,” she says. “All the parents are exhausted. Hours and hours of time and research and conference calls, putting things together.” The three CPFs made a joint presentation to the school board in January that outlined strategies and recommendations to boost French Immersion throughout the district. Ideas included exit surveys to find out why kids leave the program, more student and staff supports, better communication with families enrolled in the program, and more opportunities for cultural exchanges and fun French experiences. “We are a committed and organized group of parents who are willing to go above and beyond to keep French Immersion in our high schools,” says Vickers.

French Immersion supporters believe French programs need not take away from Aboriginal language programs. Rather, they can complement each other. Anger and frustration The Coast Mountain school board trustees put forward and accepted two other motions related to French Immersion at the March 29 meeting: research the possibility of offering videoconferencing courses; and work with regional groups including the CPF chapters in Hazelton, Kitimat and Terrace, AFFNO and other partner groups to seek more federal government funding. Despite these action items, local CPF members are frustrated, disappointed and angry at what they see as the district’s lack of commitment. “So far all the solutions put forward have come from parents, not from district staff,” says Vickers. CPF members have openly criticized the French Immersion Program Report submitted to the trustees by the district’s Superintendent and Secretary Treasurer for the March 29 meeting. They say the report ignored all of their recommendations. Carolyn DeFreitas of CPF Terrace says the report was basically “a financial analysis of cost.” She questions why the district’s finance person was even involved in a report making program recommendations. “We have basically said, ‘You need to develop a retention strategy for this district’,” she says. “We’ve

given them a million ideas. Our families and jobs have suffered because we’ve been trying to figure this out for months. “The question should have never been, ‘How do we cost-effectively serve low numbers in the senior grades?’ but rather, ‘What needs to change in French Immersion so that we have a program kids want to stay in?’” Flawed process The district publicly announced the French Immersion program was under review just a couple of years ago. But according to Vickers and Susan Souryadouangphon of CPF Kitimat, they red-flagged the program six years ago. In the last two years, the district formed two different committees to review the French Immersion program. Vickers was a parent representative on the first and Souryadouangphon on the second. “In my opinion,” says Vickers, “the district stuck their head in the sand and waited until the program was on life support before officially letting stakeholders know we had a problem. The only conclusion I can come to is that they really don’t want to see the program succeed, or it’s not a program that deserves the time and effort to make it successful. “Yes, we are dealing with enrolment and high attrition,” she admits, “but we haven’t been given a chance to turn that around.” After serving on the second committee, Souryadouangphon says she felt jaded. “It was sort of up to us to bring whatever we could to the table.” But she says any idea she brought forward was “shot down” and deemed impossible or too expensive. “There was always something.” The committee on which Souryadouangphon served was formed on September 28, 2016. It was supposed to meet over the next eight months, she says, yet the group met only three times and disbanded in December. The committee’s Chair, Maxine Champion—the District’s French Immersion Coordinator and principal of Terrace’s French Immersion elementary school, École Mountainview—presented the committee’s final report at the January 2017 board meeting. Recommendations included minimum class sizes of 15 in Hazelton and 18 in Terrace and Kitimat, with a distance learning option if those minimums were not met. A CPF member later discovered that that the distance learning option was no longer available. If the minimums were put in place, they’d be setting themselves up for failure, Souryadouangphon says. French future? Vickers believes much is at stake in her community of Hazelton, which suffers from high unemployment and, in recent years, youth suicide. “Our school is struggling as is and they are taking away something that could be very positive,” she says. “The mere thought of having this program taken away from the students of the present and future is appalling,” Skeena Middle School French Immersion students wrote in a letter to the editor published in the Terrace Standard. As for the future, DeFreitas says, “I feel like we have ‘X’ number of months to take a breath. We need to move into some serious action now. It’s going to take continued hard work by the chapters of CPF, and it’s going to take a team effort on behalf of volunteers, partner groups, and school district staff to now put into place the myriad of recommendations that have been put forward.” Alors, qu'arrivera-t-il au français dans le nord-ouest de la Colombie-Britannique? Nous devrons attendre et voir.

May/June 2017


Still Growing Sustaining northern agriculture

That was then… Things have changed. Today hay is wrapped in plastic and old hay barns shelter motorhomes in winter. As well as the dairy and cattle producers who still sell their milk and beef into the corporate food system, we have many more mixed farms and market gardens, some of them organic, supplying our communities with vegetables, fruit, grains, meat and honey. Others add value through artisanal baking, meat processing and preserving. The numbers have changed as well. In 1977 it was estimated that agriculture brought $1 million into the Smithers economy. A recent

34 May/June 2017

UNBC study suggested the BV Farmers Market alone generates $1 million of economic activity. Projects to stimulate local food supply have come and gone over the years: the Northern Pride vegetable packing plant in Smithers, Robin Creek Dairy in Telkwa, and Fairhaven Bakery just west of Kitwanga to name a few. New ones continue to appear: Vanderhoof’s BC Livestock Producers Cooperative Association’s stockyard is estimated to bring $39 million into the community. That town’s Country Locker and the Bulkley Valley Custom Slaughter means local meat is inspected and can be sold beyond the farm gate. Consumers have shown a willingness to pay more than grocery store prices for that meat and the other food available through the 128 farmers markets in BC, some now operating year-round. They welcome the 50 certified organic operations north of One Hundred Mile. They buy over 1,300 locallymade pizzas a week from grocery stores across northern BC made by Smithers’ Chatters Pizzeria and Bistro. The internet has helped people find these entrepreneurs. “Social media has made all the difference,” says Trevor Tapp of Copper-T Ranch in Fraser Lake. He and his wife Janice sell registered Polled Hereford breeding bulls and replacement heifers through the stockyard in Vanderhoof, but also sell meat through farm gate sales, local craft fairs and, now that SuperValu has pulled out, at a corner store in Fraser Lake. This is now Disputes continue. The eventual establishment of the Northwest Invasive Plant Council in 1992 helped manage conflict about the use of herbicides on crown land.

photo: michael shervill


ike many young families who moved to the northwest in the 1970s, we were determined to feed our children food that wasn’t grown with chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, or sprayed with pesticides, food you couldn’t find in the grocery store. Pretty soon we had a big garden, a root cellar, chickens, bees and a couple of sheep. We found a supplier for raw milk, we bought local beef and our Watsonquah Food Co-op joined about fifty buying groups from around the province to source organic food through Vancouver’s Fed-Up Co-op. Networks to find tomatoes for canning or to swap apples for fish linked like-minded people across the region. Local farmers and kindly neighbours taught us much about growing food in a northern climate. But there was also conflict. When ranchers requested a program to control Canada thistle, many of us relatively new arrivals didn’t take kindly to picloram, a systemic herbicide, being sprayed along roads where Saskatoon berries seemed to grow best. Pesticide permits were challenged and harsh words were exchanged.

photo: matt j. simmons

by Sheila Peters

photo: michael shervill

photo: matt j. simmons

Not so on private land. Farmers themselves disagree about farm practices around the long term effects of pesticides and, more recently, genetic modified organisms (GMOs) on our health and the health of watersheds, wildlife and the soil itself. Megan D’Arcy, a biologist who also raises about 400 meat birds a year near Walcott, uses the example of zero tillage to illustrate the complexity of choices facing farmers. Tilling the soil, she explains, releases a lot of carbon and also increases the risk of erosion. Zero tillage, a practice that uses herbicides instead of tilling to prepare the plot for planting, reduces both. But what long term effects do those herbicides have? “Some farmers using this method actually have very good soil health,” she said. “I just wish we had independent research to determine how safe the herbicides are, or to find safer ones.” In fact, an Environmental Health study published in February states that many of the health risks for the use of herbicides like Roundup have been underestimated. And the reduction in the overall use of pesticides companies like Monsanto promised those who planted so-called Roundup Ready GMO crops has not arrived. “Since the late 1970s,” the report states, “the volume of glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) applied has increased approximately 100-fold. Further increases in the volume applied are likely due to more and higher rates of application in response to the widespread emergence of glyphosate-resistant weeds and new, pre-harvest, desiccant use patterns [zero tillage].” When a dispute between neighbours about the planting of GMO crops and herbicide use spilled into the public arena, hard lines were drawn and harsh words once again exchanged. Josette Wier circulated a petition calling upon the Bulkley-Nechako Regional District (BNRD) to implement its 2013 resolution to “not support the use of GMOs for agricultural purposes within the region.” She was disappointed with the response. BC’s Farm Practices Protection Act, she was told, allows farmers to carry out ‘normal’ farming practices even when municipal and regional governments try to restrict them. In Canada, planting GMO crops and using associated herbicides is normal farm practice. And no farmer is required to tell anyone, including the regional agrologist, what he or she is planting or what licensed pesticides are applied. At the market Growers who want to supply local markets need to be willing to talk to their neighbours and their customers. Working together is essential for organic growers who might find their certification challenged if a neighbour uses, for example, a GBH that drifts across property boundaries. That’s not a problem for Jonathan Knight, whose certified organic WoodGrain Farm in the Kispiox Valley is isolated enough to be well-buffered. WoodGrain sells 95 per cent of its produce at the farmers markets in Smithers and Hazelton. Knight says the give and take between producers and consumers is a matter of mutual education. “We hear what people want and we also try to encourage them to try new products. My enthusiasm can be catching.” In response to customer demands and their own concerns about animal welfare, Les and Chris Yates of Lemieux Creek Ranch in Quick, market their Galloway-Angus grass-fed beef as “raised without antibiotics, growth hormones, animal by-products or grain.” But in order to grow enough hay for their herd on their 327 acres, they need to use chemical fertilizers, Yates says. D'Arcy says her customers want chickens that are well taken care of. “We have a nice setup in the barn for them with natural light. I put garlic or apple cider vinegar in their water if they’re looking unwell and I’ve

experimented with growing fodder for them—they really like it. We don’t do any preventive antibiotics— only use it on the tough cases and we keep careful records.” Transparency and trust is essential, Knight says, and D’Arcy agrees. She has not chosen to register as an organic producer because she wants more flexibility, she says, but she’s happy to tell customers just how she’s raised her birds. Food costs While buying local food can be more expensive, no one’s getting rich. Except for dairy farmers and some larger cattle operations, most are lucky to cover costs. For example, it costs D’Arcy about $15 to bring a chicken to market, not counting her labour. She sells them for $4 or $4.50 a pound, depending on the cost of feed. Why in the face of all this do people keep farming? A bear can come in to eat your pigs, a late frost can kill your squash seedlings, or a wet September can rot your potato crop. Again and again people talk about the ability to create something useful, to care for land, for animals.

“It feels good to provide people with something very positive,” says Knight. “It’s not really a practical economic decision. I used to run a bakery and am passionate about baking. Working with the farmers who supplied the grain, well, it became an experience I wanted to have for myself. I’ve always been adventurous and been drawn to adventures. For me, the farm is very much the next adventure.” Yates, a Prince Rupert businessman for many years, tells a similar story. “I always wanted a farm since I spent my childhood summers helping my grandfather on his farm in southwestern Ontario. He raised three children on 100 acres—a self-sustaining farm with beef, pigs, chickens and other crops.” Both Knight and Yates have brought their business experience to market their products. Like most savvy farmers, they have accessible websites with beautiful

pictures. “I know that on a business level the story and the image is a big part of selling,” Knight says. We also have to be willing to pay more at the grocery store. Bryan Swanberg, one of the organizers of the February Carrots to Cattle conference where about 70 people gathered in Smithers to take workshops on everything from soil health to agritourism, agrees. He pointed out that in France, people spend about 20 percent of their income on food; in Canada it’s about 11 percent. “There’s plenty of room here to grow lots more produce,” Knight says, “but we have a limited local market. If more people, for example, bought at farmer’s markets, we could all do better. It is not sustainable if it’s a lifestyle choice only—people need to be able to make a living at it.” Climate change and corporate agriculture are also having an impact. Food producers from the Lower Mainland, Alberta and China are looking north with interest. Mark Parker, a second generation cattle farmer from Fraser Lake and the chair of the RDBN’s newly constituted agriculture committee, was just in Ottawa addressing the senate about foreign ownership of agricultural land. A Chinese company, Tophay Agri-Industies, now owns about 12,000 acres of prime agricultural land in the Vanderhoof area, and is exporting compressed hay to China, a venture that may actually reduce food security. Working together John Stevenson, Regional Agrologist, helped the Smithers Farmers Institute organize Carrots to Cattle. He thought one of the conference’s most exciting presentations was about Paris Marshall Smith’s work around Creston, work based on Vermont’s Fields Forward initiative. It brings local food producers together to share their knowledge and pool resources in a way that is organized and supported. She quotes Chuck Ross, Vermont Secretary of Agriculture: "We’re building a food system for the 21st century and it’s going to need to be diverse and community-based, one that’s grounded in knowing each other, in providing for each other and in sharing our stories and our practices with one another.” Stevenson agrees. “Despite the divisions about farm practices, in the face of all the changes we’re seeing, we need to work together.” That is easier said than done. Stevenson happens to be the only Ministry of Agriculture employee in his region, which stretches from Endako to Haida Gwaii, an area with about 100,000 residents, close to 500,000 hectares of agricultural land and about 900 farms. To fill that gap—one that hasn’t changed in forty years—farmers and community members volunteer in farmers’ institutes, cattlemen’s associations, 4H clubs, and organize workshops on everything from irrigation to farm safety. But when asked a question at her agritourism workshop, Heloise Dixon-Warren said, “We need to move beyond volunteering. In our experience, the Ministry of Agriculture hasn’t been very supportive. There are not many feet on the ground.” It might be time for that to change. ~ Our garden is much smaller now that our kids are grown, but we are reassured when we see young families working with their farming elders to begin their own ventures into agriculture. To know they mentor each other, trade equipment and watch over each other’s operations when family emergencies arise. We continue to hope that the conflicts themselves will teach us how better to support healthy food production that sustains the growers, our communities and the earth itself. May/June 2017


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Mount Hays

Prince Rupert’s resident mountain words by Matt Simmons & map by Morgan Hite

Mountains and oceans are like

bacon and eggs—they just work well together. Anywhere you can hike up a peak to get a view that includes endless ocean vistas, you know you’ve hit the jackpot. In Prince Rupert, that’s the mainstay—if the weather cooperates, of course. Mount Hays lurks over the coastal city, dominating its weather patterns and enticing hikers. It’s only 700 metres in elevation—which, in some circles, would make it a “hill” not a mountain—but those metres come quick when you’re slogging up the steep slopes. The UN says a 300-metre gain in less than seven kilometres means it’s a mountain. Rupertites just know. Anything that creates its own weather is a mountain in my books, and Mount Hays is a perfect example. It’s also a great hike. The Kiwanis Trail is a local favourite, but be warned, it’s really easy to lose your bearings up on the plateau. Local search and rescue has been out on many occasions tracking down lost hikers up there. To get up to the peak of Hays, you’ve got a few options. You can take the Tall Trees Trail (recently restored to its former glory) up to the peak of Mt. Oldfield and connect over to Hays from there; you can walk up the road—a grunt for sure, but

you still get the views at the top; or, you can climb the Kiwanis Trail. Kiwanis takes you straight up from the Oldfield Creek Fish Hatchery on Wantage Road, past the remnants of an old reservoir. There are cliffs, waterfalls, and impressive stands of old-growth trees. For the first few kilometres, the trail is easy to follow, but it gets harder as it makes its way up the mountain. In the open muskeg glades, look carefully for flagging or blazes and stick close to the map. On the ridge, there are remnants of an old ski area: wooden signs, huts, and cabins. The trail leads to a small pond, once a turn-around point for cross-country skiers. This is where you can connect over to Mt. Oldfield, by skirting the pond on its northern shore and climbing up the opposite hill. To continue on the Kiwanis Trail, head southwest (right) along the pond’s shoreline and pick up the flagged route. It follows the long ridge to the southwest, climbing steadily towards the summit. Eventually, the trail emerges at the lower communications towers. To reach the actual summit, continue up the road a further 850 metres. This is a long, wet trail in the true Rupert spirit: gumboots or gaiters are essential.

May/June 2017




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music black spruce bog The Hatchery Session, 2017

The soul of folk music is to dignify the struggles of the daily lives of working people, resisting drudgery and political marginalization. At its best, it also warms you in the embrace of a homespun musicality. By these measures, Black Spruce Bog’s new album The Hatchery Session is an achievement and a delight. It comes in a handsome sleeve designed by Hometown Project artist Jean Chisholm, and is also accessible through a video of the making of the record, available on their website. Recorded in a single session at an out-of-service fish hatchery on the Nechako River in downtown Prince George, the album celebrates a sense of rootedness in its own place and time. In fine folk tradition, the lyrics deal with a range of environmental

and social concerns specific to northern BC, such as development versus ecology, the ongoing legacy of colonialism, and workers’ rights. These songs are sung by guitarist Eric Welscher-Bilodeau, banjo player Jeremy Pahl, and mandolin player Amy Wyn Blanding, while bassist Spencer Hammond and drummer Danny Bell hold the groove together. The band’s tightness is only underscored by the fact that this is essentially a live album. On The Hatchery Session, Black Spruce Bog inhabit a beautiful moment, living it out fully and inviting us to join them. We should most definitely accept. — Jeremy Stewart May/June 2017



art disturbances

books eden robinson

Disturbances in the Field, Prince George, May 13-27

Son of a Trickster, Knopf Canada, 2017

Pre-reviewing an art exhibit is tricky. How do you convince someone to give themselves up to a challenging experience, without being able to describe that experience? Let me try—and maybe you’ll give it a try, too. This May, Disturbances in the Field comes to Prince George, featuring works by Annerose Georgeson, Bill Horne, Andrew Maize, Jennifer Annaïs Pighin, Perry Rath, and RR7@Crysdale Crossing Collective (Karen Kellett, Judyta Frodyma, Joanna Smythe). Together, these artists will present a variety of works that challenge the ways in which we relate to the land. What does that mean, in terms of what you’ll see? Here’s an example: “a video of a dead eagle lying in a field that is in a seasonal transition from winter to spring. The projection is shone through a glass greenhouse, filtering light through the architectural model like a prism. As the light disperses, the work fractures the way nature is viewed through particular lenses.” And that’s just one part of an exhibition guaranteed to make you think about land in a different way. A glimpse of the rest: hay transformed into script, strange sculptures destined to disintegrate, and a sort of performance, process-based piece following one artist across the country. Find out more at farafield.ca.

In her latest book, Eden Robinson weaves together the trials of a Kitimat teenager with the spirit world of the north coast, injected with her lively humour and keen observations. In traditional stories, We’giit is portrayed as a flawed, but relatable mythic being with flexible morals, extraordinary resourcefulness and an amazing knack for survival. Jared has inherited these traits with a vengeance and, as he scrambles to pay his parents’ bills, stay in school, and avoid his mom’s boyfriends, he finds out that his troubles are not limited to the mortal world. The supernatural action takes some time to build, but along the way Robinson carries you on a finely crafted journey through the seasons and settings of northwest BC. She makes you feel the wind off the Douglas Channel and hear the cheers in Prince Rupert at the All Native Basketball Tournament. To a lifelong northerner, this book feels like home. I devoured it like a possessed river otter and eagerly await the sequel for more existential fireflies and station wagon driving monsters. — Emily Bulmer

— Matt J. Simmons

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40 May/June 2017


Little House Antiques

Antiques and more

Antiques, Second Look Pieces, Fine Art, Jewelry, Pottery, Vintage Toys, First Nation Fine Art, Country Chic Paints, & Stencils.... Two downtown TERRACE locations:

George Little House, 3100 Kalum St. Antiques, Artisans & Oddities, 4626 Park Ave. www.littlehouseantiques.ca Facebook.com/AntiquesArtisansOddities

Community Futures Nadina

Growing communities–one idea at a time Serving Burns Lake, Granisle, Houston, Smithers, Telkwa, Topley and area. Office open by appointment in Smithers now at 3876 Broadway Ave. 250.845.2522 cfnadina.ca find us on facebook at CF Nadina

Roadhouse Smithers

Comfort food, well travelled Upscale casual restaurant serving internationally inspired comfort food, with a smile. Check out our delicious share plates and tapas-style small plates. Serving lunch & dinner 7 days a week, and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Opening mid-June. 3711 Alfred Ave., Smithers Check roadhouse-smithers.com for opening date & hours. Find us on Facebook & Instagram

Gemma’s Gifts & Souvenirs

Largest selection of quality gifts & souvenirs in the northwest CANADIAN SOUVENIRS » Native Art . Moccasins . Handcrafted Canadian Jade Jewellery KERMODE BEAR » Mugs . Keychains . Pins . T-shirts . Artwork OPEN 7 days a week! Fridays til 9pm & Sundays 11-5pm 4627 Lakelse Ave. Terrace (across from Xanders coffee shop) 1-800-563-4362 or 250-635-4086 more info: facebook.com/gemmasboutique and loveterrace.com

Vet to Pet Mobile Service

Happy Pig Organic Farm

Mobile veterinary services

Organic meats, fruit & veggies

Located at Par 3 in Smithers or Red Apple in Hazelton. Call or email to find out more.

Based in Telkwa, we offer weekly delivery between Prince George and Prince Rupert. Contact us for details.

778.210.0128 . 1.844.620.PETS (7387) vettopetinfo@gmail.com vettopetmobile.ca

Baker Extraordinaire

Fresh-baked goods daily

No fat, no sugar, no dairy, no preservatives: just good bread! Organic grain milled daily. 4630 Park Ave., Terrace (across from Dairy Queen) 250.615.0419 . 1.877.775.3535 Tues. to Sat. 10am-6pm

250.846.5989 happypigorganicfarm.com

Two Sisters Cafe Food for life

Come eat in, or take out “Meals-Two-Go”, including Mediterranean Phyllo Rolls, Tourtiere, Beet and Ricotta Gnocchi, plus ice cream, popsicles, and other treats. 3763 4th Avenue, Smithers 250-877-7708 twosisterscafe.ca

May/June 2017



Cozy, self-contained suite with fully equipped kitchen, king-size bedroom alcove, hide-a-bed, and free wi-fi.

in Historic Old Hazelton

50 seat heritage style banquet room & commercial kitchen available for meetings, workshops, and family gatherings.

COZY, SELF-CONTAINED, SUITE www.lovethehazeltons.com . 778-202-0414

with fully equipped kitchen, king-size bedroom alcove, hide-a-bed, free wi-fi

a50cSEAT c o&HERITAGE unti nSTYLE g / l KITCHEN eBANQUET g al ROOM COMMERCIAL available for meetings workshops and family gatherings

see more Âť www.lovethehazeltons.com 778-202-0414 or gailljenne@gmail.com

c o ns t r uc ti o n

m a r ke tp l ac e

mu s i c Repairs, Rentals, and Sales of Violins, Brass/Woodwind instruments and accessories. We focus on providing a personal, high-quality service that supports the vibrant music community of Northern BC. Contact us for all your musical needs. horncraft.ca | 250.847.0318 3877 13th Avenue, Smithers BC

re a l e s t ate

42 May/June 2017

Check out our advertisers online ...and say hi from Northword


Misty River Books



The Argosy

Nisga'a Museum



Baker Extraordinaire

Northern Acreage Supply



Barkerville Brewing

Northwest Community



Bean North



Roadhouse Smithers

Betulla Burning



Ron Lapadat

College of New Caledonia



Sherwood Mt. Brewhouse



Community Futures Nadina

Sidewalkers Boutique



CrossRoads Brewing

Skeena Landing



Dick Byl Law

Skeena River House B&B



Edmison Mehr Chartered

Skeena Wild




Sleeping Beauty Estates

Energy Alternatives



Smokescreen Graphics &

Fireweed Motel




Green Island Charters

Three Ranges Brewing



Happy Pig Organic Farm

Tourism Prince Rupert



Hazel Branch

Tourism Smithers



HornCraft Music

Two Sisters Cafe



Huble Homestead

Vet to Pet Mobile Services



Little House Antiques

Way Clinic



Local Supply Co.

West Coast Launch



Midsummer Music Festival

Wheelhouse Brewing



i l l u s t r a t i o n : f a c u n d o g a s t i a z o ro


& Last Word

i l l u s t r a t i o n : f a c u n d o g a s t i a z o ro

Farmer’s blow, hock a loogie,

blow snot rockets, honk the engineer’s horn—you know the deal. Someone reaches up, blocks one nostril, and lets ’er rip. Or—if they’re an overachiever—simply turns their head and lets a great glob of snot shoot out, like a bunch of bats leaving a cave. Hikers, bikers, skiers, paddlers, horseback riders—they’re all guilty. Some don’t even care whether their mates get hit and play a sneaky game of “avoid the UFO” with their companions. But not everyone is a free flyer. Mountaineering men seem to have an affinity for winter ‘stash-cicles—icy cones extending south from their leaky faucet glommed onto a hairy upper lip and hanging precariously over chapped lips. Meanwhile, careful tissue types dig around in their pockets—pants, sweater, jacket, oh where is that darn thing. Swipers surreptitiously smear snot on the back of their hand, glove or sleeve, while sniffers vainly attempt to prevent the dreaded drool from snaking down to their lips.

Hanky lovers stash their snot rags in wrist-bulging sleeves or dirty pockets and drag out a slimy crumpled square whenever their nose springs a leak. And let’s not forget the diggers, pickers or excavators—old enough to know better but young enough to get away with poking a filthy appendage into the dark recesses of a nostril, searching for errant bats to be flicked away, or consumed. We all have noses, and they all run. How you deal with a runny nose might just say something about your personality. Or not. Let’s consider motives. Those with a tissue or hanky handy might be well prepared, care about how they’re perceived, or simply well-schooled. Sniffers and swipers may also care about perception and be well-mannered folks—they’re just lousy boy scouts. Diggers, pickers and excavators aren’t planners and care even less about perception— or perhaps they’re just desperate to clear a clog. Which brings us to the honkers. As youngsters we’re taught to politely blow our noses

with tissue. The farmer’s blow is learned later in life, often by necessity. If poor planning prevents continuous tissue access, sniffing doesn’t work, and swiping or picking aren’t your thing, then free honking may become the stand-in, particularly while pursuing laborious outdoor sports where smelly sweat, grunge and questionable clothing are accepted norms. These lowerthan-average sporting standards appear to have encouraged the evolution of free honking from discrete blows to fancy shows, advancing a necessity to an art form. So is blowing snot rockets a selfish indulgence? The answer undoubtedly depends on the participants and spectators. Soggy tissues and foul hankies are usually more acceptable than a farmer’s blow, but it’s the ugly aftermath of a free honking episode that really puts others off. Because not even Olympic-level loogie hockers always make a clean blow. And that can be nasty. — Tania Millen May/June 2017


arts www.tourismsmithers.com 44 May/June 2017

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Northword May/June 2017 - The Collaboration Issue  

Creative connections, caribou conundrum, community communications, and much more.

Northword May/June 2017 - The Collaboration Issue  

Creative connections, caribou conundrum, community communications, and much more.

Profile for northword