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Star Trek’s Uhura coming to FanCon Citizen staff Northern FanCon has one to beam aboard from the original Star Trek cast. One could, in a literary way, say that this special guest earned the Star of Freedom for the depth of work done on the show and the depth of ground broken in western culture. The name Nyota Uhura translates literally as Star Freedom in Swahili. It was the character name with which actor Nichelle Nichols is now synonymous. The character was simply one of the crew, but Nichols the actor was quite literally going boldly where no one had gone before, and she made an enduring international statement of it. Uhura was one of Star Trek’s central characters through the legendary first seasons, then into the slate of major motion pictures and spinoffs. By the time the second movie was made, Uhura had been promoted to commander, which again was nothing of significance within the script but was landmark in open society, even in its fictional form. After only one season on Star Trek, Nich-

ols wanted to return to her first love in the performance world: musical theatre. She was discussing this option with a fan of the show who told her on the spot to belay that idea and maintain her post on the ship’s bridge. The fan said: “For the first time on television, we [people of African descent] will be seen as we should be seen every day, as intelligent, quality, beautiful people who can sing and dance, yes, but who can go into space, who can be lawyers and teachers, who can be professors — who are in this day, yet you don’t see it on television until now.” That self-described Trekkie was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He earnestly added, said Nichols, “you don’t have a black role. You have an equal role.” Nicholls will be in Prince George at CN Centre from May 11-13 to discuss Star Trek and the many other roles she’s played in television and movies over the long and illustrious career. She is one of the VIPs available for photos, autographs and public interviews at Northern FanCon, presented by The Citizen.

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Nichelle Nichols, known for her most famous role as communications officer Lieutenant Uhura aboard the USS Enterprise in the popular Star Trek television series, displays her LEGO astronaut ring at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. on Monday, Nov. 1, 2010. Nichols will be visiting Prince George this May to take part in Northern FanCon.


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Flooding risk ‘extreme’ this spring

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Higher snowpack than usual across Upper Fraser West Citizen staff Higher than normal snowpack levels have placed Prince George, as well as other communities along the Upper Fraser West and Okanagan, at extreme levels of flooding, according to B.C.’s river forecast centre. In a media conference call, hydrologist Jonathan Boyd said the Upper Fraser West region saw snowpack levels at 145 per cent above normal as of April 1. Last year at around the same time, snowpack levels were at 71 per cent of normal. B.C.’s river forecast centre considers snowpack levels above 135 per cent to be at extreme risk of flooding, although weather and rainfall levels in the coming weeks are also factors in assessing risk. The Okanagan, Boundary and Similkameen were the only regions to see higher levels of snowpack. The Okanagan recorded the highest levels of snowpack, at 152 per cent, tying for the highest levels on record. The high levels resulted from

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Cottonwood Island Park in Prince George was closed due to flooding in June 2017. More flooding is in the forecast for this spring. heavy snowfalls seen in February throughout the province. Overall, the snowpack was 127 per cent above normal, 52 per cent higher than last year. Boyd said the levels were close to those observed in 2012, when several regions saw significant flooding. Snow packs tend to accumulate more in May during La Niña years, such as this year. Areas hit by last summer’s wildfires, such as the Cariboo Chilcotin and the Okanagan, are likely

to see flooding due to the reduced tree cover, which often slows the spring melt. But Boyd noted that high levels of snowpack do not necessarily result in flooding along the Fraser. “An extreme snow pack above 135 per cent of normal may not result in flooding if the melt is relatively slow and drawn out. This has happened many times in the past,” Boyd said. “Snow pack is one element of seasonal flood risk during BC’s

[spring] season. Weather patterns during the snow melt season play a critical role in whether or not flooding occurs. Intense or prolonged rainfall and extreme temperatures are important factors that can lead to flooding, even for areas with a near normal snow pack.” As a comparison, Boyd compared the current conditions to a heavy flooding season experienced by the Prince George area in 1948. In that year, the region

had experienced an unusually cold winter, followed by a 30-day period with temperatures over 20 degrees Celsius from May to June. “It was an extreme heat that caused the flooding in 1948,” Boyd said. The April 1st snow survey is the most accurate indicator of flood risk along the Fraser. By April, 95 per cent of the of average mountain snowpack has accumulated. Snow tends to begin melting in mid-April.


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Area woman starring in MasterChef Canada Citizen staff When Jennifer Rioux was struggling through her studies at Kelly Road Secondary School, the one class she always aced was cooking. Now that she’s 28, has travelled around the B.C./Alberta north, got married to Devin, took on his Jenkins last name, and together have two-year-old daughter Scarlett, it is once again cooking that sets her apart. Well, cooking and her pierced-and-purple pleasantly punk personality. It has made this stay-at-home mom into a national prime-time TV star. Jenkins is one of the 12 home cooks who make up the cast of the 2018 season of MasterChef Canada on CTV. She still has a difficult time believing that is actually her on the screen, taking on the televised cooking challenges issued by the three celebrity chefs who host the show: Claudio Aprile, Michael Bonacini and Alvin Leung.

Jenkins said she spent her youth full of self-doubt, but a particular episode of MasterChef Canada last year was the beginning of the end of the timidity. “I always had it in the back of my head that maybe I wanted to try (a TV cooking show) one day,” she said. “I was sitting with my husband on the couch watching, last season. They did an egg challenge, and I told him ‘I could totally do all of those.’ This is something I could do. I suddenly knew it without a doubt.” Now living in Dawson Creek, Jenkins filled out the online application for MasterChef Canada. She did so assuming she’d never hear back, lost among the piles of other applicants. But she received a message within a day inviting her to a personal audition. “I flipped my lid. I was screaming and crying, and that was just for the first audition,” she said. She laid down her family specialty as her au-dish-ion. Her pulled pork carnitas was a hit – that

and her commando-kitchen background and bubbly personality. It all put her into the top tier of competitors. All along the way Jenkins kept in mind that this show disallows professional chefs. All the participants were just like her – kings and queens of their own kitchens. It helped her stay confident that she was indeed not a fish out of water in this competition. “I learned from cookbooks and I learned from the internet. I have no formal training,” she said, hoping to inspire others to enjoy their personal passion for food all the more. “I remember watching The Chew and (celebrity chef) Michael Symon said something that really hit home for me. He said don’t learn the recipe, learn the technique, and then you can cook a thousand recipes. That made sense to me and pushed me to be better at cooking, and just think about what I was doing. That’s so much fun.” She aspires to own her own food truck one day, and in the near future she and her

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family are moving to southern Ontario partly because it is where her husband’s family is based and partly because the agriculture there is so front-of-culture. “I want, more than anything, to teach Scarlett about how wonderful your own food can be,” she said. “I dream of showing her how to grow some carrots and tomatoes, how to pick them out of the ground and twist them off the vine, wash them, prepare them for dinner and enjoy that meal that came right from your own hands.” She also wants to teach Scarlett another key lesson: lifelong learning. After dropping out of KRSS because work seemed more important at the time, Jenkins is now on the brink of adult graduation. “I’m eating a G.E.D. book every day, and I hope to finish that graduation next weekend. Stay in school, kids, because doing it at 28 years old is not so much fun, but I have to get it done. There’s so much I want to do.” — See LIFELONG on page 5


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Lifelong foodie getting ready to head to culinary school — from page 4 She has already been accepted to cooking school in Stratford, so the new direction in life will continue immediately, even as the TV show plays out over the next months. Jenkins is not at liberty to discuss the contents of the program, but she does say that the whole cast had a strong bond off-camera. She described her fellow MasterChef Canada colleagues as lifelong friends. She also wanted Canada to know that the three actual master chefs on the show were even more supportive and instructive behind the scenes. There is pressure and there is drama to each episode, but Aprile, Bonacini and Leung were unfailingly respectful and informative, one on one. Since the crucible of MasterChef Canada filming, Jenkins said she couldn’t help but become a better home cook. She learned from the masters, she learned from her fellow competitors, she learned from the scenarios they were each placed in, and that came home with her each day. “I have been experimenting a lot with things I’ve never made before. I’m brining my meat in new ways, making my own sourdough, I made my first pie the other day, I’m not afraid to try different combinations, and things like that. I’m more the type of cook who thrives on looking in my fridge, looking in the pantry, and seeing what I can whip up from the stuff I have available. I have to base my meals on my bank account. I have to be careful with the budget, so that means being adventurous but I can’t be extravagant.” That’s how she grew up. With five siblings, and a split family (mom and step-dad

Carole Moses and Ron Rominuck live in Prince George while dad and step-mom Rene Rioux and Michelle Rioux live in Grande Prairie), meals were made big and cost-effectively. Growing up, she moved a lot. Her younger years were spent at Morfee Elementary in Mackenzie, Beaverly Elementary in Prince George, then back up to Mackenzie Elementary School, but back to Heather Park for middle school in P.G., and her high school time split between KRSS and the Centre For Learning Alternatives. She has moved around a number of small towns like Grande Cache, Grande Prairie, and for the past two years in Dawson Creek. She has always stayed in touch with Prince George, however. As a foodie by nature, the upsurge in restaurant culture in her primary hometown has been a revelation on her recent visits. “The last time I was home I had dinner at a fabulous place called Betulla Burning which was just stunning. Then I went and had a pint and some great food at a brew pub called Crossroads. I went into a food store called Serengti and couldn’t believe there was amazing craft ice cream made right in Prince George by Frozen Paddle and it was oh-my-god so good. It’s not like when I was a kid. All we had then was Amigo’s Taco Shop, which was always awesome, and that’s still there so Prince George is happening.” That’s tall praise from a TV personality who said if she had her own cooking show it would be called Lettuce Turnip The Beat. Jenkins infuses rock ‘n’ roll into her cuisine, and the audience gets to chop along every Tuesday night all through the spring.

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Haisla chief clashes with Greens, Sierra Club Nelson BENNETT Business In Vancouver When it comes to oil, anti-pipeline activists from Canada and the U.S. have found some strong allies among First Nations in B.C. in their fight to kill pipeline projects. But when it comes to natural gas and liquefied natural gas, it’s a different story. There is generally strong support for an LNG industry among B.C. First Nations, and some take exception to the anti-fossil fuel coalition – the BC Green Party and environmental groups like the Sierra Club – opposing a $40 billion project like LNG Canada, which would generate an estimated 10,000 jobs at peak construction and 950 permanent jobs, from Dawson Creek to Kitimat. One First Nation leader has even politely told the Sierra Club to back off. In response to a letter to the Victoria Times Colonist editor in January from Sierra Club campaigner Caitlyn Vernon, who warned of negative impacts of an LNG industry on tour-

ism, Haisla Nation Chief Coun. Crystal Smith fired back: “Before the Sierra Club writes any more about LNG in B.C., I invite them to spend time with the many First Nations who support LNG development.” She also plans to meet with B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver in Victoria this month to talk about his opposition to the LNG industry. “I’d also invite him to come here to Kitimat,” she told Business in Vancouver. Along the route of the Coastal GasLink pipeline that would bring natural gas from northeastern B.C. to Kitimat to supply the LNG Canada project,most First Nations have signed benefits agreements. Last year, the provincial government reported 64 agreements had been signed with 29 First Nations along pipeline routes for various LNG projects – about 90 per cent. The agreements typically include opportunities for First Nation businesses and contractors along the pipeline route to bid on contracts for things like site clearing and

supplying work camps, said Karen OgenToews, former chief of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation and current CEO of the First Nations LNG Alliance. For the Wet’suwet’en, LNG provides economic development opportunities – skills training, new business development and new revenue streams – in a region where few other economic opportunities exist. “When we’re able to do those things, then we’re able to say, ‘This is our own-source revenue,’” she said. “We’re able to build more houses. We’re able to increase the quality of life in terms of education and training. We’re able to look after the health and wellness of our community.” LNG Canada enjoys particularly strong support from the Haisla, and Smith said her people take exception when people who don’t live in Kitimat chime in about a project that could transform the lives of her people. “We are the ones that have to live here,” she said. “We are the ones that have to live with our people’s social issues.” She said the Haisla’s support for the LNG industry stems in part from the benefits her people have already experienced from the $6 billion Rio Tinto Alcan (NYSE:RIO) smelter expansion project. “We’ve already had a taste of an economic boom within our territory,” Smith said. “Back then we experienced very low unemployment rates. A lot of our members gained meaningful, well-paying jobs. We saw a huge boost in terms of our members – as young as 20 to 25 – gaining mortgages and having their own vehicles and going on vacations around the world.”

The Haisla not only have been strong supporters and beneficiaries of a nascent LNG industry, but also were partners in projects that have since been cancelled. Smith is therefore cheering recent tax changes by the BC NDP government that could see an LNG project finally built in Kitimat. So is the City of Terrace, which is just a 40-minute drive from Kitimat and a major service centre for the region. About 25 per cent of the regional workforce employed on Rio Tinto’s smelter upgrade and LNG prep work lived in Terrace, which is a major service centre for the region. During that period, Terrace experienced high employment, vacancy rates near zero and construction of three new hotels. An $18 million upgrade to the city’s airport is still underway. But in 2016, economic activity began to tail off, after the smelter upgrade was completed and major oil and gas companies shelved or cancelled LNG projects. Mining in the region continues to provide some jobs and economic activity, but the LNG Canada project would spark an unprecedented economic boom in the region. Danielle Myles, manager of economic development for Terrace, said there are roughly 1,100 contractors and businesses in Terrace that supply the region with workers, services and supplies. “We expect that our businesses will be thriving as this project develops,” she said. “And it will give us an opportunity to make some investments in other industries that are already established here.”


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www.pgcitizen.ca | Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Garneau working on new lumber deal Citizen staff The federal Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, also happens to be the chair of the Cabinet Committee on Canada-United States Relations. He was the first keynote speaker at the Council of Forest Industries (COFI) conference in Prince George earlier this month, just as it was announced from Washington that the two countries and Mexico had suspended formal NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) talks in favour of a more expedited government-to-government set of meetings. “There is an increase in the momentum at the moment,” Garneau said. “The United States seems to want to fasttrack it a little bit. We’ve indicated that we are prepared to work at a faster pace. At the

same time, we still have what we consider to be our priorities within the NAFTA agreement and working at a faster pace does not mean in any way we are changing the arguments that we are presenting on behalf of Canada.” The Citizen asked Garneau if there was such a thing as going too fast in talks of this nature. “We have said that if the United States or Mexico wishes to increase the pace of discussions, we are perfectly ready to do that, but it will not change our approach. We’re not in this to meet some deadline, we are in this to have a good deal for Canada and hopefully one that’s good for all three countries.” The setting for Garneau’s discussion was a room devoted to the forest sector. The Prince George Conference and Civic Centre

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Marc Garneau, Canada’s Minister of Transport and chair of the cabinet committee on Canada-U.S. relations, speaks at the COFI convention in Prince George. was filled with a who’s who of the lumber, construction, pulp and paper, bioenergy and high-tech wood sectors. The biggest forestry export commodity of them all between Canada and the U.S. is softwood lumber. That is undergoing its own set of cross-border dialogue, but it is not the same file as NAFTA. Garneau gave a quick update on the softwood lumber agreement that has expired and is in a state of argument. “On softwood lumber we are in the middle of dispute resolution,” under a NAFTA and World Trade Organization process. “We’ve done this four times before over the years, and we have always won, and we feel we’re going to win again this time because the same arguments apply.” Lumber has been hit with a 20 per cent fee for crossing into the United States, and some other forestry products have been tariffed as well, but Garneau said there was some softening going on by the American government. He said U.S. administration officials were not the ones driving the impasse. “It is the U.S. lumber coalition, which has the right of veto on deals. They have not been willing to accept the other negotiations that have gone on with the U.S. administration,” Garneau said. “There is no indication (the American

administration is looking to withdraw the complaint against Canadian forestry practices) but we continue to say if you want to come back to the table and sit down and work out a new deal that’s acceptable to everybody – and we came close to it before, but the U.S. lumber coalition vetoed it – we are ready to come back to the table anytime. If not, we will take it through the full dispute resolution process.” The Canadian side is confident of a legal victory in this current version of the longstanding spat. It helps that the American economy is undergoing a surge of construction, which means Canadian lumber is in such high demand that the U.S. construction industry is willing to pay the additional fee to get Canada’s wood. “However, it could be the complete reverse. If the American economy was not as healthy and there wasn’t a high demand, we would be in a crisis situation. It really is just a coincidence that we’re in a healthy situation and jobs are being maintained,” Garneau said. He also added that no matter what sound-bites might be emerging from the NAFTA momentum, it was important to remember that negotiators – experts in trade arrangements – were the ones doing the work to reach a pact, not politicians.


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Highway maintenance standards getting tougher Citizen staff

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A snowplow works along Highway 16.

Contractors will be held to higher standards when it comes to maintaining B.C.’s highways during the winter as new contracts are awarded. Whenever the temperature is warmer than -9 C, class A highways must be returned to bare pavement within 24 hours of a snowfall, up from 48 hours under the existing contracts, when de-icing chemical use is effective. During a winter storm, patrol frequency for class A highways will be increased to every 90 minutes from the current four hours and when a snowfall is forecast to occur, patrols will be every four hours, up from 24 hours in anticipation of an event coming. Contractors will have to use remote weather information systems to forecast when a weather event will occur and spread anti-icing chemicals prior to the weather event. And the aggregate spread on highways will be 9.5 millimetres, down from the old standard of 12.5 millimetres,

to reduce potential windshield damage. Of the 28 service areas across the province, 26 are up for contract renewal in 2018-19 through an open bidding process. For Highway 16, they include Service Area 24 - Lakes (expires Aug. 31, 2018), Service Area 27 - North Coast (Sept. 30, 2018), Service Area 26 - Skeena (March 31, 2019), Service Area 23 - Nechako (April 30, 2019) and Service Area 19 - Fort George (May 31, 2019). Service Area 20 - Robson will be up for renewal by Aug. 31, 2021. For Highway 97 from 100 Mile House to the Yukon border, they include Service Area 16 - South Cariboo (May 31, 2019), Service Area 19 - Fort George (May 31, 2019), Service Area 22 - North Peace (May 31, 2019), Service Area 17 - Central Cariboo (June 30, 2019), Service Area 18 North Cariboo (June 30, 2019) and Service Area 21 - South Peace (July 31, 2019). Both Highway 16 and Highway 97 have been completely designated as class A since 2014.


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Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP Bob Zimmer held a roundtable meeting about new gun laws last week at his Prince George riding office.

MP roundtable blasts gun laws Citizen staff The federal Liberals’ new firearms bill was heavily criticized during a roundtable discussion Prince George-Peace RiverNorthern Rockies MP Bob Zimmer hosted last week. A major point of concern was the lack of a process for appealing the classification of a firearm. A section of Bill C-71 would take away cabinet’s power to override RCMP’s decisions on such matters. A nonpartisan board that would include other stakeholders as well as the RCMP, should be given the responsibility, argued one of the 11 people who attended the meeting at the Conservative MP’s Prince

George office. “I think that would be one thing that would make it a lot easier for the firearms community to accept,” said Brock Bailey, the sporting clays director for the Prince George Rod and Gun Club. Whether to classify a firearm as nonrestricted, restricted or prohibited is often based on the ease with which it can be converted from semi-automatic to automatic. But what can be achieved in an RCMP laboratory may not be so straight forward for a regular person, Bailey contended. “In the (RCMP) firearms lab, they have all the tools and machines, etcetera and work on those things for quite awhile and make things fit,” he said. — See PERSONAL on page 11


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Personal history could pose problem for owners — from page 10 Federal public safety minister Ralph Goodale pointed to a rise in gang-related homicides in which a gun was used as the reason the bill calls for extending background checks for criminal activity to a purchaser’s entire life from five years. According to the ministry gun homicides doubled over four years, rising to 223 in 2016, with over half of them gang related. Depending on how the provincial governments respond, the background checks could include an examination of the purchaser’s mental-health history. Looking back over a person’s entire life raised questions for PGRGC secretary Roy Nagel, particularly when if it’s applied to mental health. “Do you go back to the point when Johnny was 14 and he used a slingshot to clear the cats off the front lawn and therefore he has the tendency to mistreat animals? Who knows where this can go?,” he said. “Five years I always thought was adequate. If they wanted to go 10, I suppose

that might be a bargaining point. But going back over a person’s entire life to find anything that could disqualify a person from owning and using a firearm is extreme and I don’t believe it is necessary. “We live in the present. Most of the things we do are dictated by our experiences over the past five years or so.” Gun retailers will also be required to keep records of firearms inventory and sales for at least 20 years and require the purchaser of a hunting rifle or shotgun to present a firearms licence, while the seller would have to ensure its validity. That move was roundly criticized as amounting to a “backdoor registry” for long guns. Charles Scott, who sits on a Conservative electoral district association, was the only person who does not own a gun who attended the meeting. He said the bill caters to a concern that “greater fire power equates to greater body count” and suggested there are more important priorities Zimmer could pursue. Others suggested more thorough educa-

tion on how Canada’s gun laws work, along with a more assertive publicity campaign, would help clear the air. “It will pull the fuse out of the people who are gun control crazy and make it more apparent to the public out there, especially the news coverage, to show that there are sensible, reasonable people from all walks of life who know how to smooth out the humps of this thing and how to make our

society safer without threatening individual privileges,” Nagel said. “And they’re privileges not rights.” Zimmer said he hosted the event to get a sense of the direction he should take on the issue and had invited people in favour of tighter controls on firearms to attend but none took up his offer. He said the bill will be headed to committee when the House of Commons reconvenes this week.


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Fort Mac fire chief shares his story Citizen staff Former Fort McMurray fire chief Darby Allen saw more than his fair share of devastation over the course of the 2016 wildfires in northern Alberta. But the extreme circumstances also brought out the best in people. “People, when they are faced with the most horrendous situation they have ever seen in their lives, can really do wonderful things,” said Allen, reached from his current home in Vancouver. The fire chief, who has since retired, oversaw the successful evacuation of over 88,000 people from Fort McMurray in the spring of 2016. He became a household name in the midst of the wildfires and was named one of the 2016 newsmakers of the year by Maclean’s magazine. Allen spoke about his experiences as the keynote at this year’s Bob Ewert Memorial Dinner and Lecture at the Prince George

Civic Centre. During the spring of 2016, Allen often referred to the wildfires in media statements as a sleeping “beast,” warning during times of dormant winds that “it will wake up.” “There’s a very fine line between alerting people and panicking them,” he would later tell reporters. Allen now says his projection of calm was not the result of a strategy. “I don’t think I thought about it a whole lot,” he said. “There were obviously some fairly dark hours and stressful times there, but I knew it was important that whenever I got in front of a camera – or even whenever I had a conversation with any staff who were working up there – it was important for me to be not just calm, but positive about the outcome. I truly believed we would get everybody out in those early days.” After retiring and moving to Vancouver, Allen found himself a spectator to B.C.’s own wildfire season last year.

This time, he knew these fires were not his beast to subdue. “It was a bit of a weird feeling because I knew what they were going through but I had no desire to poke my nose in there. There’s very qualified people here who know exactly what they’re doing. It felt a bit weird not helping but I knew I shouldn’t help,” he said. Allen focused on giving the attendees of the Bob Ewert Dinner a picture of what the evacuation looked like for ordinary residents of Fort McMurray. “It’s mainly a story about those 88,000 people and how they miraculously, in a matter of about 12 to 14 hours, managed to vacate the town with only one way in and out, and did it safely,” he said. But Allen also hoped to draw attention to mental health, an issue that has become increasingly important for first responders in Canada. A report published last year in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry found that 44.5

per cent of first responders surveyed had developed one or more mental disorders. Thoughts of suicide have become frighteningly common amongst paramedics and emergency dispatchers. Allen said he knows several firefighters in Alberta who have yet to return to work due since 2016. He hoped that his presence in Prince George helps raise awareness of mental health challenges faced by first responders and others. “We need to get to a place where we can say to our boss and our work colleagues ‘I’m popping out, I’m going to go see my therapist.’ And we don’t have to hide that, we don’t have to be embarrassed about it,” he said. Proceeds from the fundraising dinner will go to the Dr. Bert Kelly Legacy Fund, which will provide bursaries for northern students studying healthcare-related fields. The fund is held by the Prince George Community Foundation.


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ALS Society of B.C. recognizes area MLA Citizen staff Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond is being recognized by the ALS Society of B.C. for her recent work as a community advocate. The society awarded Bond their exceptional advocacy award at an event in Richmond earlier this month. The ALS Society of B.C. provides support and advocacy for individuals and families living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a neuromuscular disease that greatly reduces mobility and motor control. The group has been recognizing community leaders in B.C. with the exceptional advocacy award since 2013. Wendy Toyer, executive director of the society, decided to recognize Bond partly as a result of her help in securing a funding grant for a research project. Toyer said the study may help hundreds of caregivers living with ALS patients. At last year’s Walk for ALS in Prince George, Bond asked Toyer about a funding application the society had made for the Characterizing the Impact of Respite Care in ALS (CIRCA) study. The study would measure the impact of providing supplemental care for individuals living with the disease. Toyer told Bond that she was still waiting on approval for the study’s funding from the province. Bond was initially shocked that the funding had not been delivered. She asked Toyer to send her some information about the study. Weeks later, Toyer received a call from Bond. The funding request for the CIRCA study had been approved. “I’ve been here for 13 years and she’s been at every single walk, and every single ALS event in Prince George,” Toyer said. Bond said she was able to help along the funding application for the study by making a direct appeal across party lines to the provincial Minister of Health, Adrian Dix. “In this case, it was a sympathetic minister who understood exactly the importance of research like this,” Bond said. “The ALS Society is very good at the

work that it does in Victoria in terms of its advocacy.” The study will involve a small group of people, 70 families in total, living with ALS. Participants will undertake a psychological assessment both before and after receiving additional support from a caregiver specifically trained in dealing with the disease. Forty of the families selected for the study will act as a control group, and will not receive a caregiver. Toyer hopes the data from the study will help demonstrate the importance of having additional care for the mental health of family members. It may also help make a business case for a future application for a larger funding for ALS caregivers throughout B.C. “When ALS hits a family, it’s not just the person with the disease, the entire family is affected,” Toyer said. “The main caregiver - in most cases the spouse - the burn-out is extreme because as the disease progresses, that person may need to be turned ten times throughout the night.” Toyer said the additional support of ALS caregivers will reduce the high rates of stress experienced by family members of patients. Bond said she treated her work on the issue of ALS much like her advocacy of other files in the community. “You go and you make the case. I knew how important this kind of research was going to be. So it’s a matter of taking every request personally,” Bond said. Bond expressed her thanks for being recognized for the award. She commended the ALS Society of B.C. for its effective lobbying work in Victoria on behalf of families and patients living with the disease. But Bond also took the opportunity to thank members of the Prince George community who put their own time into volunteer efforts. “I guess what I’d say to my community is, thank you for everything they already do because people are very supportive. It is more simple than people think to get involved,” Bond said. “The benefit you receive from that is worth far more than the effort it takes.”

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www.pgcitizen.ca | Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Rangers to receive highest civic honour Citizen staff The City of Prince George will be bestowing its highest award to a Canadian Forces primary reserve infantry regiment that has had a lengthy history in the city. The city plans to grant the Freedom of the City award to the Rocky Mountain Rangers, a Canadian Forces unit that trains in both Prince George and Kamloops. The Rocky Mountain Rangers’ “A” Company was based in Prince George prior to 1970. The regiment was relocated to Kamloops, but “B” Company was returned to Prince George in 2011. The city plans to host a formal ceremony on April 21. The ceremony will involve a march to city hall in the morning, which is a tradition that dates back to a period when military units were not allowed entry

into the city without the permission of the RCMP. Members of the local RCMP will be on hand to formally grant passage, while the commanding officer of the regiment will perform a formal knocking on the door of city hall. Mayor Lyn Hall will conduct an official inspection of the troops. “It’s a tremendous honour,” said Capt. Michael Oviatt of the Rocky Mountain Rangers. “It’s something that only happens once in a regiment’s history. Ever.” Oviatt said the re-establishment of “B” Company occurred after a 41-year absence, as a result of efforts by both reservists and civilians. “It was a citizen-lead initiative,” he said. “There was a local lobby group here in Prince George that included people personally known to army leaders who pointed out that Prince George is a population cen-

Citizen file photo

The Rocky Mountain Rangers prepare to march to the Cenotaph during the 2016 Remembrance Day ceremonies in Prince George. tre, it’s had a reserve unit in the past and it could definitely support one.” Oviatt said the regiment’s “B” company currently maintains close to 60 reserve citizen-soldiers, who also work in a variety of other careers, from trades to corrections. Several members of the Rocky Mountain Rangers have also served overseas in recent years, including in Afghanistan and as part of NATO operations in Latvia. Close to a dozen members took part in Operation LENTUS, the Canadian Forces’ response to the wildfires in B.C.’s interior in 2017. For Oviatt, who took part in the wildfire assistance last summer, the operation was a point of pride. “When you get the chance to work on a named operation, really, it’s kind of the culmination of why a reservist is a reservist.

It’s the most fulfilling portion of the job,” he said. “Granting of this distinction recognizes the Rocky Mountain Rangers’ history, presence in our community, and contributions both locally and nationally. On behalf of Council, I would like to congratulate and thank the Rangers for their contributions to Prince George and to Canada,” Hall said in a media statement. The parade will begin at 10:25 a.m. at the Kopar Building at 150 Brunswick Street. It will then proceed down Second Avenue to George Street, then down George Street. The parade will finish at the cenotaph at City Hall with a ceremony. Following the ceremonies, a formal regimental ball will be held at the Prince George Conference and Civic Centre.


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www.pgcitizen.ca | Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Humboldt tragedy shocks junior teams Ted CLARKE Citizen staff The Humboldt Broncos bus tragedy in northern Saskatchewan Friday afternoon which claimed the lives of 15 people cuts deep into the tight-knit hockey community and both junior teams in Prince George have personal ties with some of the accident victims. Prince George Spruce Kings defenceman Dylan Anhorn played spring hockey for five years with Broncos defenceman Ryan Straschnitzki, 18, and was billeted with Humboldt centre Derek Patter, 19, when Anhorn got called up to the Olds Grizzlies in the 2015-16 season. Both Humboldt players survived Friday’s accident. “I have two friends on the team and fortunately they both made it out alive, which is unbelievable,” said Anhorn, a 19-year-old native of Calgary. “Ryan had back surgery because he doesn’t have feeling in his legs right now and we’re praying for the best for him and the other one is Derek Patter who I

billeted with for a little bit in Olds. He’s the nicest kid you’ll ever meet and it’s so heartwarming they both made it out of there. “They’ve given me the OK (through texts) that they’re doing alright and that helps a lot. Derek’s injuries were a bit more minor because he didn’t mention them to me. Obviously you just feel terrible for all the victims.” Anhorn’s Spruce Kings began the B.C. Hockey League championship series last week in Wenatchee, Wash., and while the Broncos’ accident highlights the potential danger of highway travel he said he’s not worried about the long trips required to play in the league. “You can’t think about it because there are so many junior teams on buses and the odds of it happening are super-rare, but whenever something like that happens it makes you double-think about it,” he said. The Spruce Kings players, coaches and staff gathered together Saturday morning to meet with grief counselors and pastors who offered their support to help them deal

Citizen file photo

Prince George Spruce Kings defender Dylan Anhorn tries to put the puck on net past the reach of Surrey Eagles defender Dominic Masellis during a September BCHL game at Rolling MIx Concrete Arena. Anhorn knows two of the Broncos players who survived the deadly crash. with the shock of the accident. “I didn’t personally know any (Broncos) staff or players but I know some of our players did,” said Spruce Kings head coach Adam Maglio. “I’m not sure what that relationship looked like but I know they crossed paths in their careers. At this point we’re just here to offer support and prayer for the families and for anyone who was close with any of the members that passed away. “The point of (the meeting) was to make sure they had the proper contacts to reach out to talk to. Everyone’s different with grieving and they might not even have a relationship with a Humboldt player or

staff member but it could be an issue of the travel and being a little bit scared about that and getting on the bus. The support group that came in today spoke to the group and it was more of a contact point for further discussion one on one or in small groups, showing the guys they have somebody to talk to.” “It’s such a tragic event, your heart goes out to the families and everybody that’s affected by it and hockey seems not important when you have events like this that occur,” said Spruce Kings general manager Mike Hawes. — See BRONCOS on page 20


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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Citizen file photo

Selen Alpay, owner of Prince George’s Canadian Tire, front left, and Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall, front right, along with representatives fron area arts groups at the launch of a new fundraising event called the Mayor’s Black & White Ball for the Arts.

Black and White Ball fundraiser to benefit area arts organizations Citizen staff A triad of arts organizations will be joining forces to throw an event that promises to be a yearly highlight in the local arts calendar. The Community Arts Council of Prince George & District, the Prince George Symphony Orchestra and Theatre Northwest announced on Tuesday the creation of a new, annual fundraising event, the Mayor’s Black & White Ball for the Arts. The formal ball, which will take place May 26 at the Coast Inn of the North, will be a fundraiser for local arts organizations. Proceeds will fund the establishment of a new community arts grant. The event will be hosted by Mayor Lyn Hall and will include dinner, dancing and entertainment from both the performing and visual arts worlds. Live and silent auctions will round out the evening. Theatre NorthWest general manager Marnie Hamagami said the event was an opportunity for the three local arts titans to undertake a common project. “The idea was inspired by a couple of different things. One of the things we get a lot of requests for from the arts community is a ball,” she said. “There’s a lot of great fundraising events that happen in Prince George

but there isn’t actually another formal ball.” Selen Alpay, owner of the Canadian Tire store, has already stepped forward as a key sponsor; Alpay announced on Tuesday that Canadian Tire would offer a $10,000 financial contribution for the event. “Every day and in all parts of the community we see the benefits of having professional arts organizations” Alpay said. “I know that having a thriving arts sector is of value to people from all walks of life, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to show our store’s support for the good work they do.” “The arts community is what makes Prince George a great, livable city,” said Mayor Lyn Hall. “The arts have added to the diversity of our city and are one of the many attributes that make this community an attractive place to live. Over the years, our local arts organizations have contributed greatly to the cultural fabric of Prince George. The Black and White Ball is a celebration of the many contributions they have made, and it is a wonderful opportunity for residents to show their support.” Tickets for the Mayor’s Black & White Ball for the Arts are now on sale and can be purchased at theatrenorthwest.com or by calling (250) 649-6477.

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www.pgcitizen.ca | Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Broncos coach visited P.G. last year to scout Telus Cup — from page 18 “The world is small but the hockey world is smaller and we have some players on our team who were teammates with these guys in minor hockey and have friends who unfortunately were involved in this accident and that’s what we’re dealing with.” Hawes discussed a potential trade this season with Broncos head coach and general manager Darcy Haugan, 42, who was among those killed in the crash. “I’ve spoken with him several times over the past couple seasons and he was actually in town last year for the Telus Cup and was here for the whole tournament scouting for the Broncos and I chatted with him on a couple of occasions,” said Hawes. “He was just a great guy. Not everybody

is easy to deal with when it comes to trades but he was a straight-up guy, an honest guy, and he was easy to talk to and seemed fair. We weren’t able to come together on the trade but he seemed like solid guy and I know he will be sorely missed in the community and in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.” Like the Western Hockey League Cougars, the Spruce Kings are the northernmost team in their league and long bus trips come with the territory. The team logs between 20,000 and 25,000 kilometres per season, not including playoffs, more than any other BCHL team. Each return trip is about a 2,000 km journey. “Without question we have the most in our league, it’s significant,” said Hawes.

The Spruce Kings play in the Mainland Division and are eight hours away from their closest divisional opponent in Chilliwack, while the Cougars’ closest road game is in Kamloops, six hours away. Among the players killed was Stephen Wack, a 21-year-old defenceman chosen by the Prince George Cougars in the eighth round of the 2012 WHL bantam draft. He attended two of the Cougars’ training camps before starting his junior career in the AJHL with Camrose and Whitecourt. He played for Humboldt the past two seasons. Cougars director of scouting Bob Simmonds is based in Edmonton, close to where Wack grew up in St. Albert and got to know the family before and after the Cougars drafted him.

In a Twitter post, Simmonds said: “My sympathies to the Wack family on the passing of Stephen in the terrible Humboldt bus tragedy. Stephen was a remarkable young man who the @PGCougars drafted & I consider myself fortunate to have known Stephen & his family & know their remarkable journey.” Wack was a six-foot-two, 180-pound defenceman when the Cougars drafted him in April 2012 and by this season had grown to six-foot-six, 220 pounds. Cougars general manager Todd Harkins said the team wanted to sign him two years ago but Wack and his family decided to play junior A instead to try to lock up an NCAA college scholarship. — See IT’S on page 21


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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Citizen file photo

A small memorial for the Humboldt Broncos was set up last week outside of Rolling Mix Arena in Prince George, home of the BCHL Spruce Kings.

‘It’s the worst nightmare that you think about’ — from page 20 “It’s devastating,” said Harkins. “From an organizational standpoint and from somebody who works in the business as a general manager and as a parent of two kids who played in the league, it’s the worst nightmare that you think about. “It’s something you don’t want to think about and that’s why parents always want to make sure their kids are going to a safe place to play because you never know when something like this is going to happen. “Jonas (Harkins’ youngest son) now plays in Regina and he travels those same highways in Saskatchewan and it just makes you wonder. You think of the families and all the billet families, there are so many people who are affected in a tragedy like this when it involves a hockey team, it’s not just the parents of the kids. It takes a village to create a hockey player and the outcome of this is so many people are affected and devastated, and not just in Humboldt. It’s a trickle-down effect from the NHL right down to every young kid who aspires to be a pro hockey player.” As the death toll climbed to 15, last Saturday was a day of mourning all over the hockey world. In Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Jets and Chicago Blackhawks replaced the name

bars on the backs of their jerseys with the word “BRONCOS.” Other NHL teams wore Broncos logos on their helmets. One of the youngest players who died in the accident, defenceman Adam Herold, played in Prince George last May at the Telus Cup midget national championship for the Regina Pat Canadians. Herold, 16, captained the Pats this season and was a second-round pick of the Prince Albert Raiders in 2015. He was one of the players in the discussions when the Cougars traded Kody McDonald to the Raiders in January. “I’d watched Adam play quite a bit at the Mac’s tournament,” said Harkins. “This is how close it hits home because all these are all kids you’ve scouted or talked about and now I just feel so horrible for the families.” Another of the players killed was forward Jaxon Joseph, 20, who played half of the 2015-16 season in the BCHL with the Surrey Eagles. In the final game of that season on Feb. 28, 2016 in Prince George, Joseph scored the Eagles’ first goal in a 7-2 loss to the Spruce Kings. Cougars head coach Richard Matvichuk didn’t know any of the Broncos’ players but played for the Minnesota North Stars/ Dallas Stars against Joseph’s father, former NHL defenceman Chris Joseph. — See COUGARS on page 22

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www.pgcitizen.ca | Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Cougars bus travels 40,000 km each season — from page 21 “It’s a very emotional day and hockey is a very small world, we all live in it together and our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and billets and players and the organization,” said Matvichuk. “This isn’t just something that’s going to go away, it’s a horrible day for everybody and the hockey community has to stay strong and whatever we can do from the Cougars’ standpoint moving forward to help, we’re going to be there. “This hits really close to home with everybody, especially here with the amount of travel that we do. We’re almost spoiled when you consider what (Cougars bus drivers) Ralph Posteraro and Don Witala do for us, for the hours we spend with these young men on the bus. We’re grateful to have two of the best that there is in the business.” Witala has been driving sports teams across provincial borders for nearly 40 years. He’s had a few close calls with animals on the highway and wayward drivers going too fast around corners but never came close to what happened Friday when a semitrailer truck T-boned the front of the Broncos’ bus. “It’s everybody’s worst nightmare,” said the 71-year-old Witala. “When you go on the road you always keep your eyes open and you just hope you never run into that situation.” Witala knows the responsibility which comes with the job, most often driving through the night in winter road conditions, but he’s not bothered by the risks of his profession. “There’s times when you can’t see five feet in front of the bus from the snow coming down in blizzards but you keep on driving slow, just taking your time and cautious, and most of the time if you drive to road conditions you’re alright,” he said. “Ralphie and I never worry about ourselves, it’s just the other people coming at us. Every guy that passes you, you can’t take your eye off the road for two seconds because the other one could drift across the centre line.” Bus drivers are allowed to work a maximum of 14 hours per shift without relief, which includes time when they are with the team and not driving.

So when the Cougars head to Alberta, Posteraro will drive a courtesy car to Jasper the day before and will take over from Witala once he arrives there. For extended trips into the U.S., Manitoba or Saskatchewan, Witala will fly to Edmonton, Kelowna or Vancouver to get behind the wheel of the bus for the last leg of the journey back to Prince George. In a 36-road-game regular season, the Cougars’ bus logs close to 40,000 kilometres. One night, a few years ago, Witala recalls when freezing rain left the highway treacherous and the team had to spend another night in a Kamloops hotel rather than take the risk. “Drive BC was warning people not to go and the next morning there were semis in the ditch and cars upside-down,” said Witala. “I always drive the same way I drive my own vehicle, just drive to road conditions. If it dictates 30 kilometres an hour then that’s what I do. All you want to do is make sure you get everybody home and safe.” Witala and Posteraro have seen news clips and photos from the accident scene and from what they can determine, weather conditions did not appear to be a factor in the accident. “There are so many things that happen with bad roads and fog and rain and snow and then to have this happen on what looked like a dry road in good visibility, you keep asking yourself why,” said Posteraro, who has driven the Cougars bus for 18 years. “It sounds like the truck went through a stop sign and one comment I heard from someone was that because he was going west and the time of day, maybe the sun was in his eyes and he couldn’t see. “What is it, fate or destiny, but how do two vehicles in a place where there isn’t much traffic end up at the same place at the same time? I’ve almost had tears in my eyes all last night and all day and why? I keep putting myself in that place. It’s the worst scenario ever.” An online fundraising page has been established to help the players and families affected by the tragedy. The page can be found at www.gofundme. com/funds-for-humboldt-broncos.


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