Let’s focus on creating resilient communities.

My family and I are traveling north to Prince Rupert, another corner of this majestic province that we have not yet explored. Last summer, we visited the Peace River Valley in the North East to see for ourselves the river and lands that Site C would transform forever. This time, it’s North West.

We began on the Northern Expedition: a 16-hour ferry ride through BC’s truly spectacular Inside Passage.

Greeted by rain early in on the first day.

As the sun came up on that first day of our journey, the incredible beauty—the scenery that attracts people from all over the world to this coast—revealed itself.

During our boat ride, I met a Cumberland man who works for the Kitasoo/Xai’Xais First Nation. Over lunch together, I learned a great deal about the history of the process that resulted in protection off the Great Bear Rainforest—including the strength and leadership of the coastal First Nations—to the challenges created by the forestry professional-reliance model on the coast. He was clear in his position on the grizzly hunt: “Retire all of the quotas” and end the hunt.

We arrived late in Prince Rupert, grateful for a good night’s rest.

Next, we’re exploring the spectacular corner of the North West of British Columbia: Prince Rupert, Terrace, Kitimat, New Hazelton, Smithers, Burns Lake, and then to Prince George and Quesnel.

We will also visit Stewart, a town right on the Alaska border where my grandparents started their teaching careers. They met while studying at Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria, which was at that time a Normal School. My grandfather, learning of an opportunity for two teachers in Stewart (one to teach grades 1 to 6, the other to teach grades 7 through 12), made two proposals to my grandmother: first to get married; second to move to a small town in northern BC.  She accepted both.

I look forward to seeing the magnificent scenery—the fjords, the mountains and glaciers, the great rivers and deep lakes—and I also look forward to meeting the people, to hear directly from the residents of this region what their views are, their hopes and dreams, their vision for the future of their communities. I will be meeting with mayors and councillors, First Nations people, and with local residents, including a Terrace resident who has had a frustrating experience with the Ministry of Environment after his groundwater was contaminated.

I don’t accept that our province is neatly divided into two discrete categories: urban and rural.  I have found that everywhere we go in this province we find a diversity of people, ideas, and perspectives. I expect this trip will be no different. I am eager to meet new people and learn their stories, lessons from which I can apply to my new role in service to the Cowichan Valley.

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