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Non Profit Community Engagement Fair for Web

Community Futures Nicola Valley is set to host the first annual community engagement fair. The event will run from 10am to 4pm on Saturday the 23rd at the Civic Centre. All members from the public are encouraged to attend the free event to learn more about some of the non-profit groups we have here in the Nicola Valley.

Mae Ketter, Community Economic Development Coordinator with Community futures, spoke to Q101 about the inspiration behind hosting the inaugural event.

“We talked about it for quite awhile and getting together with all the non for profits,” said Ketter. “We wanted to really find out how many there were out there and if they would be involved. So, we put the word out and there was a big interest.”

In total close to 40 non-profit groups from around the Nicola Valley are set to have tables at the event.

“People can expect to visit all these tables, they’ll have information about their various groups and organizations. Getting involved, what they do, actually what they’re all about, and perhaps if they want to sign up to volunteer at one from time to time,” said Ketter.

Mae also told Q101 about some live entertainment that they have scheduled.

“We have the strings band that’s going to do a little performance at about 10:30. And then the old time fiddlers will be doing a bit of a performance right around the lunch break,” Ketter told Q101.

She also gave us the inside scoop that they'll be giving out a few door prizes throughout the day.

Q101’s Jesse Pakulat will be on location tomorrow down at the civic centre so make sure you stop by and say hello.

 

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School zone

The PAC at Nicola Canford Elementary School are raising concerns of the safety of their children. The concern centres around the current speed limit of Highway 8 as well as Aberdeen road.

Rural School Trustee Everett Hoisington told Q101 this isn’t a recent issue.

“I was elected in November and it has been on the PAC table since then. But they’ve been dealing with it before then,” said Hoisington. “But it’s been on the table in previous years as well.”

School Board Superintendent Steven McNiven spoke to the steps being taken by the board.

“We're working with highways. They’ve come out and indicated to us that they believe that the area meets the requirements that are there now. So, we will continue to work with them,” said McNiven.

The highway department did investigate the issue but determined the speed on the roads was safe.

“I do appreciate the parents certainly wanting the safest conditions as possible. I think the stumbling block, without knowing all the facts, is that the road is obviously deemed a highway, and that becomes more complicated in implementing school zones,” said McNiven. “But we will continue to work with the PAC and with highways to see if something can be done.”

Hoisington laid out the steps being taken by the PAC.

“I’m not sure what that looks like, do they get a petition going? I don’t know what their next move will be,” said Hoisington.

There was also talk of speaking to the RCMP about an increased presence in the area, so drivers are more likely to follow slow down.

"I think the next step may be get a hold of the RCMP and see if they can patrol it a bit more,” said Hoisington. “I got to be there to support what the PAC choses to do.”

 

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Horgan with Cheifs

On Wednesday, the Chiefs of the five Nicola Valley First Nation Communities came together at the Coldwater School along with the Premier of BC, John Horgan to sign a ‘Economic Development Protocol Agreement’. The Protocol outlines three key factors.

  • Explore economic development opportunities that will benefit Nicola First Nations and neighbouring communities
  • Consider new and unique approaches to building resilient economic partnerships between Nicola First Nations and the broader Nicola Valley region
  • Prioritize the review of Nicola First Nations’ application to develop the proposed gateway 286 site as a cultural learning and visitor centre

The five Nicola Valley First Nations and the Province of British Columbia are committing to work together on regional economic development as the Nations advance their plans for the old Merritt visitor centre lands at Gateway 286.

Premier John Horgan and the Nicola Chiefs affirmed this commitment by signing a protocol agreement on March 20, 2019, in Coldwater, focused on supporting economic opportunities.

"Working with the Province and our neighbouring Nations gives us unity and strength to work towards improving prosperity for our region," said Chief Aaron Sumexheltza, Lower Nicola Indian Band. "This is another step towards implementing positive economic change for all of our members and Nicola Valley residents."

“We’ve been working on this project ever since I became an MLA,” said Fraser-Nicola Liberal MLA Jackie Tegart. “I’m very pleased by the announcement today. It is a good use of that site and it’s great to see the five First Nations Chiefs there advocating for this project.”

“Our foundation of our government was on reconciliation and implementing the United Nations declaration on the right of indigenous peoples,” said Horgan. “The reason we need, not only the social justice questions about the decades of being denied access to your lands and to the bounty of those lands. But it’s also economic opportunity for all British Columbians. The success and prosperity of indigenous communities leads to the success and the prosperity in non-indigenous communities. For too long the Chiefs here in the Nicola Valley and Chiefs in communities right across BC, have been denied access to their resources, their rights and their title, and that time is over. Now we have to find a way forward that benefits all British Columbians and I’m excited today as a start here in the Nicola Valley.”

In recent years, the Nicola First Nations have worked together and with the Province on specific economic and environmental issues, including a March 2018 memorandum of understanding to collaboratively manage the Nicola Watershed.

"The government-to-government agreement with the Nicola Chiefs is a result of their hard work and commitment to foster economic growth and opportunities for their communities, and the entire region," said Premier Horgan. "Our government will continue to work in partnership with First Nations to create prosperity in every part of the province and make life better for everyone in B.C. - now and into the future."

 

5 Chiefs

 

"It is an honour to be working with the other four Bands. It has been a long journey to get here. We are happy to finally see some traction and I feel this will help turn things around in our valley. We are happy that the Province is supporting us in this endeavour," said Chief Lee Spahan, Coldwater Indian Band.

The Nations' application to acquire the lands necessary for the Gateway 286 project is currently moving through a decision-making process by the Province that will include an assessment and technical review, as well as consultation with neighbouring First Nations and stakeholder engagement. The process will be prioritized through the protocol. Should the acquisition and transfer of the lands to the Nicola First Nations for the Gateway 286 project proceed, the Province is committed to supporting the successful development of the project, which will benefit the region as a whole.

The protocol is another example of how B.C. is working with and supporting First Nations in new ways to support economic growth in the Nicola Valley. In the Province's Budget 2019, it was announced that starting in April 2019, almost $100 million per year in gaming revenue will be shared with First Nations. This means every First Nation community in the province is estimated to be eligible for revenue in the range of about $250,000 to $2 million annually to support community priorities determined by the First Nations themselves.

“The commitment was made in the budget in February. We have to put in the protocol to transfer the moneys to the 203 Indian act nations within BC.,” said Horgan. “We don’t want to see an expansion of gambling in BC, but we have seen enormous of revenue come to the province. We believe that sharing that revenue with indigenous communities will meet their aspirations, address a long-standing request from communities and again create prosperity right across BC.”

Premier Horgan did mention that the cut headed to First Nations communities will be seven percent of total revenue.

 

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 Centre Block Parliament Hill

Currently in the House of Commons on Parliament hill in Ottawa, the Conservatives are going line by line through the budget in what can only be described as a filibuster.

A filibuster is defined as; an action such as a prolonged speech that obstructs progress in a legislative assembly while not technically contravening the required procedures.

The filibuster was enacted as a response to the Liberal majority voting down a motion calling on Justin Trudeau to let former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould testify again about the SNC-Lavalin controversy. The motion was defeated by a 161-134 vote.

There are 257-line items on the docket to now be painstakingly voted on by the members of parliament. Theoretically the vote could last as long as 36 hours, however if the Conservative keep it up till 10am (eastern) they would scrub the remainder of the parliamentary day. One un-confirmed report out of Ottawa suggested they would attempt to drag it out long enough to also scrub Friday.

MP for Central-Okanogan-Similkameen-Nicola Dan Albas briefly stepped out of the house to talk to Q101 about the ongoing situation.

“Today we are going to be holding the government to account. We’ve called for them that we’re going to do a vote marathon until they allow a full investigation by a parliamentary committee,” said MP Albas. “We as the opposition can ask for specific votes on each line by line item, which requires a standing vote. This can be done relatively quickly if we agree to vote in general opposed, or we can ask vote by vote and again that takes time.”

Because any vote involving government spending is automatically considered a confidence vote, Liberals are required to be out in number to avoid potential defeat of their government.

“The Liberals have put up little cots that they’re going to rotate people out so they can sleep. But we’re going to keep holding this government to account until they let Jody Wilson-Raybould speak,” said MP Albas. “When our democracy is challenged, when the governments conduct is not consistent with what Canadians have called for, it’s up to the opposition to raise these things. We need to make sure there is accountability.”

The vote marathon is continuing on the hill at this time.

 

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Cenotaph

It’s a piece of our town’s history that you’ve probably walked right past on a number of occasions. Located just outside of the civic centre is a cenotaph honouring all the Merrittonians that have lost their lives while fighting for our freedom. Engraved on that tribute to the highest sacrifice a man can give is ‘In honor of the men of Merritt and the Nicola Valley district, our well beloved dead who died that we might live’ along with the names of men and boys who left to fight during a war and never returned.

Forty-four names adorned the monument, only a small portion of the nearly 61,000 Canadians who would ultimately lose their lives during the ‘great war’.

Michael Sasges decided the stories of those men deserved to be told, so he got busy writing his latest work ‘Once well Beloved’.

Sasges who has lived in the Nicola Valley since 2006 is a former journalist and director at the Nicola Valley Museum, something he credits with his inspiration.

“When I was a director, we put on two public events around the great war. So, you could say those two public events directed my thinking towards this book,” said Sasges.

Another piece of inspiration came when the museum hosted a centenary celebration around the drill hall.

“The men who had assembled the land and persuaded the military to build a drill hall, by that time were all overseas. And some of them would have never seen the completed drill hall because they would have died overseas,” said Sasges.

The book began however with Sasges simply wanting to know more.

“I really did want to find out about the men on that cenotaph, 44 names, only one of them is still remembered in the valley today. I just wanted to discover more about them,” said Sasges.

The book follows the lives of 12 Merrittonians who lost their lives fighting in WWI.

 

Book cover

 

“I knew of two, so now we have to go find another ten. I told the stories, as much as I could find out, of the first three to die in 1915. Of the four who died in the preparation for, the assault on and defence of Vimmy Ridge. And then the last three to die,” said Sasges.

That provides a way for the book to follow along through the war, in a way passing the torch from one fallen soldier to the next.

“The stories are so haunting, and so indicative of the cruelty of fate. And then there are some that are so indicative of rising above circumstances,” said Sasges.

One of the men featured in the book is John Foster Patton Nash, who originally came to Merritt in 1886.

“He then went to war in 1915,” said Sasges. “When he died, he had just passed his 50th birthday. And he was not the oldest of my 12. The oldest is a man by the name of Busk, and he was probably 55 or 56 when he died.”

Busk died ingloriously by being run over by a French vehicle.

The book was recently selected by the Royal Museum as part of their 2019 publication catalogue. The book is described in the Royal Museum catalogue as; In the town of Merritt, in British Columbia’s Nicola Valley, is a granite cenotaph erected in 1921 to remember 44 men from the valley who died soldiering in the First World War. Those men were from a Nicola Valley that had been suddenly and dramatically settled just a decade before, by the will of railway executives and the arrival of British colliers. Twelve of those soldiers are the subject of these pages—and through them, we meet the men, women and children of the Nicola Valley, the dead and their survivors: the makers of a Canadian community that was also a distinctly British Columbian community.

Sasges did have the opportunity to speak to one family member of one of fallen soldiers. He spoke to Mary Charters, who married into the family of Tommy Charters who died at the Somme in 1916.

“That young man is improperly identified on the cenotaph,” said Sasges. “Tommy Charters is the young fellows name, indigenous cowboy. On our cenotaph he appears as T. Tilamoose, and it’s still that way.”

After the book comes out Sasges is hoping he may be contacted by families of the soldiers who lives the book follows.

“I only have one letter home and it’s from Tommy Charters,” said Sasges. “I’ve been working on this book for five years, so people who might have had something could have come forward. I’m still hopeful and maybe we’ll have to revise the book.”

The book is set for release this fall with a book signing being scheduled for November.

“What you will find is some of what I call the founding families of Merritt, traced back to 1841,” said Sasges.

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