Several Whistler trails closed after cougar encounter

Cougar closes trails

Several trails near Whistler's Alpine neighbourhood will stay closed for the next month after a cougar encounter.

"On September 30, the Conservation Officer Service received report a cougar approached a hiker from behind crouching low and exhibiting stalking behaviour, on the Skywalk South Trail," the Resort Municipality of Whistler said on its website.

"The hiker hazed the cougar by throwing stones, as it approached to approximately 20 feet. The cougar was not initially phased, but eventually backed off."

As a result, part of the trail system above the Alpine neighbourhood will be closed for one month, including:

  • New View

  • Rainbow-Flank North

  • 19 Mile Creek

  • Howler

  • Rick’s Roast

  • Cat Scratch Fever

  • Green Monster

  • Skywalk South

  • Jaws


The closure comes almost exactly one month after a different cougar encounter closed several trails in the same area.



In that instance, the animal knocked a mountain biker off his bike, according to the COS.

All other trails are open, though the RMOW advises people to be cautious, and consider carrying bear spray when using alpine trails.

"It is important to keep all pets on leash when using these trails and small children should be kept close by," the RMOW said.

If you encounter a cougar you should:

1. Stay calm and keep the cougar in view.

2. Pick up children immediately—children frighten easily and the noise and movements they make could provoke an attack.

3. Back away slowly, ensuring that the animal has a clear avenue of escape. Make yourself look as large as possible. Keep the cougar in front of you at all times.

4. Never run or turn your back on a cougar. Sudden movement may provoke an attack.

5. If you have bear spray this can be used in the event of a cougar attack.

Report sightings of cougars to the Conservation Officer Service at: 1-877-952-7277.


British Columbians see progress in reducing racism and discrimination, study finds

Making progress on racism

Far more British Columbians say society has made progress on racism, than not, according to polling conducted by the Angus Reid Institute.

About seven in 10 from the province say definitively there’s been a bit of progress (42 per cent) or significant progress (29 per cent) whereas only about one in 10 assert it is worse (12 per cent).

The Sep. 27 poll is part of a series of polls examining the so-called “culture wars” or “woke” attitudes on race, gender and sexuality.

Slightly fewer British Columbians reported progress on racism (over the “past few generations”) as opposed to the 73 per cent of people who did so across Canada. Just 10 per cent of Canadians said racism is worse today than before, as opposed to 12 per cent of British Columbians. Quebecers brought the national rate down with a four per cent rate. And, another 12 per cent think there has been no progress made.

Half of Indigenous people report experiencing discrimination “sometimes” or “often” whereas 78 per cent of visible minorities (categorized as Blacks, Chinese and South Asians) do so; this contrasts with 27 per cent of Caucasians reporting so, according to the poll.

Men, especially those age 35 to 54 years old, report more discrimination than women.

The poll also explored elements of privilege: Canadians feel being white, attractive, a man and being born in Canada are advantageous.

In August, Angus Reid polled parents on parental consent for pronouns, finding 78 per cent of parents would like to be informed by their children’s school should their child prefer to be acknowledged with alternative pronouns. Forty-three per cent of parents said they want to consent to those changes whereas 35 per cent simply wanted to be informed. Fourteen per cent said schools should be able to keep those decisions between a student and their educators. The findings were nearly identical in B.C.

On Thursday, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe announced he would evoke the notwithstanding clause to pass legislation called the parent inclusion and consent policy, which had recently been issued an injunction by a provincial court judge. The policy requires parental consent when children under 16 alter their names and pronouns at school.

The poll on racism came with this disclosure from the institute: "The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from July 26-31, 2023, among a representative randomized sample of 3,016 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 1.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Another 322 Canadians who do not identify as male or female and who are also members of the Forum were also surveyed as a population booster."

Squamish Nation seeks name change to restore Mount Garibaldi back to Nch’k?ay?

Change mountain's name?

S?wx?wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) has requested the provincial government officially change the name of Mount Garibaldi back to its original Nch’k?ay?.

In a letter that is attached to Squamish council’s Oct. 3 agenda, the province's Trent Thomas, a provincial toponymist with the BC Geographical Names Office, asks the District of Squamish and council members for their feedback on the proposed name change ,

“A vital part of the geographical naming process is to request comments from governments, communities and relevant organizations potentially affected by a feature’s name. Please note that if there are any official name changes, online name records will forever include the history of all previous official names,” reads the letter from Thomas.

An attached link in the letter states the name Nch’k?ay? (pronounced in-ch-KAY) has been used for thousands of years by the Nation and the mountain itself is considered sacred. The letter says the name means “Dirty Place” or “Grimy one,” both of which come from the “tendency for the Cheekye River to look muddy in colour, a result of volcanic debris in the area.”

The letter states that the name Mount Garibaldi originates from a ship captain of the Royal Navy commemorating the Italian General Giuseppe Garibaldi in the 1860s.

“It is unlikely that Garibaldi ever visited British Columbia,” the letter continues. “There are 10 other official names which commemorate him in the province, including the prominent provincial park.”

Information provided to the province this year by the Nation notes, “[Its] oral history talks of a time of a great flood when Nch’k?ay? played a central role in the survival of the Squamish people. During the great flood, the waters rose to such an extent that only Nch’k?ay? and several other taller mountains remained above the water. The Squamish people tethered their canoes to the top of Nch’k?ay? using rope made from cedar trees until the water receded.”

“Nch’k?ay? is also important to the Squamish people for ceremonial purposes, navigation, weather predicting, obsidian gathering, food and plant gathering, and animal hunting.”

The letter asks for the District to respond before Dec. 31, 2023.


Social media magic: B.C. couple tracks down photographer of mountain proposal

The magic of social media

The power of social media has connected a recently engaged couple with the stranger who took photographs of their mountain-top proposal.

Abbey Ruth and Jeremie Lacasse were hiking to Floe Lake in Kootenay National Park on Aug. 8. Little did Ruth know that her boyfriend had a surprise planned.

When they got to the top of the lake, after a treacherous and rainy journey, he started scouting out the perfect location to propose. The only problem was he didn’t have a photographer to capture the special moment.

“It was raining and just terribly cold when we got there,” she says. "The weather started to clear up a little bit, and we went down to the beach.”

Lacasse ran back up to their tent and spotted a woman with a large professional camera nearby. He went over and asked if she'd be willing to photograph him popping the question.

After returning to the beach, he gave a ‘peace sign’ to the woman, who was hiding in a bush. Without Ruth even noticing, he surprised her by getting down on one knee.

“The stars kind of aligned,” says Ruth. "We were making soup and then all of a sudden, Jeremy asked me to marry him, which was really cool.”

The proposal went perfectly and the photographer captured breathtaking images.

“Laura captured the moment and it was just really cool,” she says.

The couple then returned home to Vernon; however, after seven weeks, they still had not received the photographs. Ruth says they were worried their contact information got lost.

So, she decided to post on social media in hopes of finding the photographer. Her post was viewed thousands of times and started to spread across British Columbia.

"My fiancé and I are on a mission to find some photos of us,” she posted. "We met a woman named Laura, who graciously and excitedly hid in the bush and took photos while we got engaged. We shared our contact information with her but didn’t get her information, and fear she may have lost our info.”

To her surprise, lots of strangers wanted to help.

“Lots of people saw it, were commenting, were sharing it and telling us that they hope we find Laura,” she says.

Their leap of faith worked and they were able to find Laura Zeilke, who lives in Victoria.

“I was hidden behind a tree and I was trying to be as quiet as possible,” Zeilke tells Glacier Media.

Zielke was committed to getting the perfect shot for the couple.

“I probably took about 300 or 400 pictures because I was a bit worried about missing the moment.”

Zeilke, who is a hobbyist photographer, explains how on weekends she spends her time hiking and had not yet had the chance to edit the the couple's photos.

"I haven't edited any of my photos from any of my hiking adventures this summer. I’m gone pretty much every weekend,” she says. “I actually thought of it the other day.”

Her hiking friends were the ones who saw Ruth’s post and quickly messaged her.

"I felt bad and made sure I edited and got them to her right away,” Zeilke says. “It was really cool to see the hiking community want to help."

Ruth wants to thank everyone who shared the post.

“Social media brought it together," she says. "It’s a little bit wild but also quite special.”

Overdoses from smoking toxic drugs outpace B.C. prevention sites

Smoking drugs biggest killer

Nearly two-thirds of the overdose deaths in British Columbia this year came after smoking illicit drugs, yet only 40 per cent of the supervised consumption sites in the province offer a safe place to smoke, and the chief coroner says that needs to change.

Lisa Lapointe said the latest data show 65 per cent of overdose deaths in 2023 came after smoking drugs, compared to 15 per cent involving injection, 14 per cent snorting and five per cent from oral consumption. The coroners' office notes that people can consume using multiple methods.

Also in the data, the updated overdose death toll since the province declared a public health emergency in April 2016. Almost 13,000 have died since then, more than 1,600 this year.

The Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions said of the 47 overdose prevention sites in B.C., only 19 provide the option to smoke drugs.

B.C.'s original supervised consumption site is a safe injection site, but Lapointe said methods for consuming drugs have shifted over time.

"If we truly want to reduce the risk, and reduce the numbers of deaths, and help make our communities safer, then there needs to be an acknowledgment that providing a safe place for people to use drugs is critically important," Lapointe said.

"And that includes a safe place to smoke drugs."

Those who study the topic say a combination of stigma, bureaucracy and a lack of political will are all obstacles to setting up more sites for smoking drugs.

The latest analysis of the deaths contrasts with data from January 2016 to July 2017, following the declaration of the emergency, which show that one-third of deaths came through injecting drugs, while 36 per cent who died smoked drugs.

While Lapointe's office has not made any formal recommendations, she said she's heard from community groups that there are not enough safe spaces generally to use drugs, but particularly not to smoke.

"Clearly, smoking drugs is much more popular now than injecting drugs. If we want to keep people safe, if we want to reduce the death toll from the opioid crisis, then we need to be meeting people where they are, and certainly (there's) a need to adapt policies, whatever they may be," she said.

Nicole Luongo, the systems change co-ordinator for the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, based at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., said the rules around setting up safe inhalation sites are overly complicated but don't have to be, given the extra powers the government has to act under the emergency declaration.

"We are seeing harm reduction sites still being tailored around injection and the ability to introduce inhalation sites being really mired in bureaucracy," Luongo said.

"And they're expensive as well, to introduce the kind of equipment that would reduce risk for outside observers."

In a statement, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions says local health authorities are responsible for the operation of those services and they have been working to increase the number of inhalation sites.

It says considerations for implementing inhalation sites include whether there is a suitable outdoor space, particularly during the winter, occupational health and safety concerns and worker safety issues, primarily due to specialized ventilation requirements.

In B.C., community groups have set up observed inhalation sites — usually in tents outdoors — where peers monitor users for an overdose, but Luongo said they can face opposition from cities even though a 2016 provincial ministerial order allows overdose prevention services anywhere they are needed.

Nevertheless, she said local governments continue to pass bylaws that include zoning restrictions that are preventing the opening of both inhalation and safe injection sites.

"At times, we have seen progress being made toward the opening of a site and then, due to community pushback, the municipality will renege"

Luongo said that level of stigma is a sign for Ottawa to declare a nationwide emergency, and both the province and the federal government need to "actually enforce pathways for implementing things like harm reduction services, as well as access to a regulated safe supply with various options for administration."

B.C.'s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jennifer Whiteside was not made available for an interview.

In a statement, she said the government is doing everything it can to save lives and separate people from toxic drugs.

"That’s why our government has rapidly scaled up overdose prevention and harm reduction measures since 2017. This includes significantly increasing the number of overdose prevention services from one site in 2016 to 47 sites as of July 2023, including 19 sites offering inhalation services."

Luongo said in the early years of the crisis there was more trust in smoking stimulants, which were less likely to be altered. However, that's no longer the case, with toxic additives being included in everything, she said.

She said Canada's safe supply programs, which provide regulated versions of some criminalized drugs, need to be expanded and include more inhalable options.

The province is on pace for another record-breaking year of deaths from toxic drugs in 2023. The Coroners Service said unregulated drug toxicity is the leading cause of death in the province for people aged 10 to 59, accounting for more deaths than homicides, suicides, accidents and natural diseases combined.


Federal riding change officially cuts out chunk of West Van, adds it to North Van

Federal riding change

The heart of West Vancouver is now officially part of North Vancouver – at least where federal elections are concerned.

Changes to electoral boundaries on the North Shore that carve out the main business district of West Vancouver and plunk it in the North Vancouver riding became official Sept. 22, according to Elections Canada. Any elections called after April 22, 2024 will be conducted under the new boundaries.

Under the change, announced in February this year, the easternmost part of West Vancouver – including Park Royal, Sentinel Hill and all of Ambleside (everything east of 21th Street) – has been cut from the West Vancouver electoral district and added to the North Vancouver riding. (A previous plan had recommended adding half of Ambleside, from 15th Street east, to the neighbouring riding.)

The change was made by an independent commission charged with re-drawing Canada’s electoral map to make the population of ridings across the country more equal in size.

But it also came in the face of significant community opposition.

Patrick Weiler, the Liberal MP currently representing the West Vancouver riding, described the plan last year as “cutting the heart out of West Vancouver to add it as an appendage to another riding.”

Weiler said when he went door-to-door in the area impacted by the change, most people weren’t aware the change was being considered, and those who were aware were opposed to it.

John Weston, the former Conservative MP for the riding, also opposed the change, as did residents of West Vancouver.

But those objections weren’t enough to change the commission’s recommendation. In a report, the commission wrote it was aware of public concerns but said the existing riding of West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sky to Sky represents too great a population, and that dividing West Vancouver was “the only fair and appropriate resolution to the electoral district’s high population.”

The redrawn electoral map, which would push boundaries of all three North Shore ridings north and west, is part of a larger jigsaw puzzle considered by the electoral boundaries commission as it added one riding to the province of B.C. The additional riding is needed because of population growth in the province. But the creation of a new riding in the southern Interior had a domino effect of boundary alterations in other areas of the province, including several ridings in the Lower Mainland.

Under the riding changes, all West Vancouver between Burrard Inlet and Highway 1 east of 21st Street has been added to the North Vancouver riding, which will be known as Capilano-North Vancouver. The name of the West Van riding will also change to Howe Sound-West Vancouver.

Chunks of Lynn Valley previously in the North Vancouver riding–including much of the area to the south of Lynn Valley Road and upper Lynn Valley to the east of Mountain Highway, as well as Capilano University–have also be added to the Burnaby-North Seymour riding. That riding is itself a product of an earlier redrawing of the election map that created a riding spanning Burrard Inlet.

Politically, removing Ambleside from the West Vancouver riding wouldn’t necessarily benefit either Liberals or Conservatives, as the area tends to split its votes between those parties.

Senior donkey surrendered to BC SPCA finds new home thanks to viral social media post

Senior donkey finds home

The BC SPCA shared some happy news on Friday, announcing that a senior donkey has officially found his forever retirement home

Frank, a 22-year-old donkey, went viral on BC SPCA social media accounts at the beginning of September.

"This gentle soul garnered a lot of attention while he was looking for his forever home because of his big heart and sweet face," the SPCA said in their news release.

"Frank first came into BC SPCA care when his owners were no longer able to support his medical needs. After being examined by a veterinarian, Frank was found to have pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID) – commonly referred to as Equine Cushing’s Disease."

While PPID is a hormone disorder that can lead to complications and other serious health issues when left untreated, the SPCA said with access to the appropriate medical care, a donkey with PPID can live a very happy life.

Frank was also suffering from severe dental disease and had several missing teeth which was giving him trouble with eating his food. The SPCA has provided him with dental treatment since his arrival.

The senior donkey now called Charlie, found his forever retirement home thanks to the power of social media and lucky timing.

"It was a connection of fate when Charlie’s new guardian, Sheri, and her barn manager, Kate, found him online, just one week after Sheri’s 40-year-old rescue donkey sadly crossed the rainbow bridge," the SPCA said.

"Sheri has adopted several cats from the SPCA over the years, but Charlie is her first SPCA-adopted farm animal. A number of other animals also live on Sheri’s farm and keep Charlie company."

"In fact, the reason for his name change is because the family already owns a pony named Frankie! Despite Frank being the perfect name for a donkey, Sheri worried things could get confusing fast when Frankie the pony comes to visit from his current home in Southlands."

Sheri said that she saw a photo of him online and knew right away that he would fit in with her barn. She applied to adopt Charlie immediately and was approved upon review with certainty that her home was the best match for him.

“He is quite the affectionate donkey," Sheri added. “When it is breakfast time, he brays very loudly and then begins trotting over to get some scratches. Charlie loves to cruise around and has even figured out how to open the feed room door, so we’ve had to limit his time hanging out in the barn! He is the most energetic donkey I have ever had."

Charlie is now living a happy life with Sheri on her farm in the countryside. He spends most of his days with his new best friend Millie, a miniature mule whom Sheri rescued a week after Charlie came home as she thought the two would become good friends.

"The playful duo loves to hang out together on a trail beside the barn and even run around in the outdoor ring on the property. According to Sheri, Charlie is super talkative and loves his people – but mostly he loves Millie and she is never far from his side."

The SPCA said this story is a true testament to the saying “everyone deserves a second chance at love” as Charlie now has his second chance but is also bringing so much joy into every life he touches.

B.C.'s retiring top judge looks back on a half-century in law

Retiring judge looks back

After 14 years as British Columbia’s senior jurist, Chief Justice of B.C. Robert Bauman is hanging up his robes Oct. 1.

Actually, he may be recycling his robes but we’ll get to that.

In his position as the 13th ‘chief,’ Bauman is also the chief justice of the B.C. Court of Appeal, a position he has held since September 2013. In that capacity, he's also chief justice of the Court of Appeal for the Yukon.

He succeeded former chief justice Lance Finch, following in illustrious footsteps of former holders of the office, including former chief justice of Canada Beverley McLachlin.

Former prime minister Stephen Harper appointed Bauman to the position following his 13 years on the province’s trial and appeal courts. The move came after being chief justice of B.C. Supreme Court, a position he took in September 2009 after a stint as an appeal court justice.

In an interview with Glacier Media, Bauman said he hopes he’s been able to put a public face on the province’s high courts. He said such a profile is important so that the public has an understanding of what the courts do, and can have faith in the system.

Bauman, 73, hails from Toronto but moved to Montreal as a young boy. There, he attended Loyola High School and Loyola College.

Soon, he obtained a degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Following his dreams, he attended the University of Toronto Law School. It was there he fell in love with his wife of 35 years, Sue, with whom he has two sons (he performed both their marriages).

With a law degree under his belt, Bauman looked west, setting his eyes on Prince George to begin practicing.

He became a partner at Wilson King, the firm founded by the father of J.O. Wilson, the eighth chief justice of the Supreme Court of B.C.

In 1978, he joined Kelowna’s Galt Wilson firm to practice under the firm name of Wilson Bauman.

Despite being early in his career, Bauman had already gained a reputation for administrative law and local government law.

Four years later, the family was on the move again, this time to Vancouver, where he joined the firm of Bull Housser and Tupper, practicing there for 14 years.

The criminal cases

Asked what cases captured his mind over the years, Bauman said such cases were mostly criminal ones.

“They’re all interesting,” he said. “They’re interesting because they’re important to the people in front of you.”

Still, Bauman singles out a few: the trial of Ravinder Singh “Robbie” Soomel for murder; the killing of Reena Virk by a group of teens; the fundamentalist Bountiful, B.C. Mormon polygamy constitutional case; and the Basi-Virk legal fees case connected to the 2003 sale of B.C.  Rail to Canadian National.

Soomel murdered Gurpreet Singh Sohi on Sept. 14, 2000. Bauman said Soomel entered a club and “fired aimlessly.”

He was convicted in 2003.

A B.C. Court of Appeal decision said Soomel “was 20 years old, he was the leader of a planned execution, organizing and enlisting four accomplices to murder Mr. Sohi, a rival drug dealer who was also only 20 years old.”

Soomel was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years, a sentence he appealed after serving 18 years.

“That was an awful case,” Bauman said.

Fourteen-year-old Reena Virk was brutally beaten and then killed under Victoria’s Craigflower Bridge in 1997. 

“After being assaulted by a group of eight teenagers under the south end of the bridge, Ms. Virk made her way across the bridge to the north end, There, she was again attacked, and then drowned in the Gorge waterway," one court ruling said.

One of those teens was Kelly Ellard. In 2005, Bauman sentenced her to life in prison calling Virk’s killing a senseless and remorseless crime.

He called the case “very difficult,” and said the teens beat Virk “violently and brutally over a couple of hours.” Bauman told Glacier Media the cases that haunt him are “the random acts of violence.”

However, it’s not all crime. Bauman said family law cases can be hard on a judge.

“Some of the family law cases were difficult,” he said. “Deciding who gets what, deciding if mom or dad can move away.”

Changes in the courts

Bauman isn't keen on calling the courts hidebound. Rather, he prefers calling them a conservative institution.

“We are methodical in adopting change,” he said, “because the traditions we are following are longstanding and stood the test of time."

That said, Bauman noted the COVID-19 pandemic made it necessary for changes to happen fast in order for the courts to keep functioning.

The courts were back and functioning within two and a half weeks of the 2020 shutdown, he said, adding judges moved to adopt new technology and lawyers embraced electronic filing systems.

When it comes to the legal profession, he said things hadn’t changed for about a century when he was a young lawyer.

Now, he said, the pressures are high. Getting into scarce law school positions is a challenge and technology means lawyers are never far from the office.

“They’ve got challenges I never saw,” he said.

Bauman remains watchful yet fascinated on the issue of the use of artificial intelligence in the courts and practice of law. 

“I’m sure it offers all kinds of promise,” he said, adding opportunities to misuse the technology also remain.

Education and openness

Bauman is alarmed by polls indicating a low level of confidence in the courts. He said he understands people are feeling frustrated.

“I think it’s unfair at times,” he said, adding distrust in institutions is not uncommon.

Serving on a jury could change people’s minds, he said.

“They’re walking a mile in our shoes,” he said. “All of a sudden, their attitude changes. They see how hard it is to take it all in.”

Bauman recalled walking into a jury room to find a juror crying as they made a decision about another person’s life.

“I can see they have a newfound respect for what we do.” 

Bauman said public education about how the courts operate is important. He’s been open to journalists and others wanting to meet with him to discuss how the courts work.

“I’m a frank and candid person,” he said. “I try to answer questions directly.”

As in so many facets of life, the judge said, it comes down to communication and relationships.

“If you know each other and respect each other, life is much simpler,” he said. "The more that people understand how the system works . . . the more they understand what we do.”

Still, it’s not just education on the home front where Bauman's been involved.

In conjunction with the National Justice Institute and Global Affairs Canada, he’s been to Ukraine assisting judges there on issues of judicial independence, corruption and writing.


As for his robes, Bauman said retiring judges try to put them out for new judges to buy.

The cost of the silk robes: about $4,000.

Meanwhile, packing boxes are scattered about his spacious, light-filled office at the Vancouver Law Courts.

With the courts moving into his rear-view mirror, Glacier Media asked Bauman what his plans for the future are.

“I’m reading some books,” he said with a grin. “Maybe go for a walk.”

Some of those walks may include golf, an area where he wants to hone his skills.

Williams Lake RCMP asking for public's help locating a missing 13-year-old girl

Missing 13-year-old girl

The Williams Lake RCMP is asking for the public’s assistance in finding a missing teenager.

Police are working on locating 13-year-old Bryanna Sellars, who was last seen in Williams Lake on Sept. 25, 2023, at Maranatha Christian School.

Sellars’ family reported her as missing after their attempts to contact and locate her were unsuccessful. They are also concerned about her health because she has a condition that requires daily medication.

Williams Lake RCMP said they believe Sellars is still in the Williams Lake area.

Sellars is described as an Indigenous female around 5’9, weighing 145 lbs with black hair and brown eyes

Those with any information about Sellars or where she might be are asked to contact Williams Lake RCMP at 250-392-6211 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Union of BC Indian Chiefs says National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a day for learning

'Not a celebratory holiday'

The Union of BC Indian Chiefs is reminding British Columbians that National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is not a celebratory holiday, but a day for “reflection, education, open dialogue, and action.”

Saturday is the first time B.C. is joining the federal government in recognizing the statutory holiday. The federal government began recognizing the day as a statutory holiday for federal workers and workers in federally-regulated workplaces in 2021.

In a statement Saturday, the UBCIC asks British Columbians to take the day to learn more about Canada's history with Indigenous people.

"UBCIC invites the public to stand in solidarity with First Nations, survivors and inter-generational survivors who have shared devastating truths about the atrocities committed by the church and government of Canada in Indian Residential Schools across the country, and their counterparts in Indian Boarding Schools south of the border," the organization says.

“Residential schools were a tool of assimilation and colonization and were directly connected to the institutionalized theft of unceded First Nations land and resources. For too long First Nations’ voices have been met with denial, skepticism, belittlement and silence.

“We encourage the public to come together with compassion and open-heartedness; we call on you to learn the truth about Canada’s racist and genocidal origins on stolen First Nations’ land and to understand the tremendous significance this day holds for First Nations communities, survivors and their families who continue to live with the traumas inflicted at Indian Residential Schools and other violent institutions.”

The UBCIC calls for more action on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, published in 2015. The Assembly of First Nations says just 13 of these recommendations have been completed so far, three of them in the last year.

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is recognized as a statutory holiday for all workers in B.C., Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island and Yukon.

It was first established in 2013 as Orange Shirt Day, a grassroots initiative inspired by Phyllis Webstad's story of having the orange shirt her grandmother gave her taken away when she arrived at residential school.

The day was created to promote awareness and education of the residential school system and the impact it has had on Indigenous communities.

Red Pheasant Cree Nation declares state of emergency over drug activity

Drug emergency declared

The leadership of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation is declaring a state of emergency in response to the escalating drug problem in their community.

The First Nation is concerned about the increased violence and how it affects the safety of their people, they said in a media release issued Saturday by FSIN. Many residents are living in fear and are reluctant to cooperate with the RCMP because they fear retaliation. These calls for action come after seven people overdosed on drugs in one day.

“We must do something, and this is our first step; our leadership is taking urgent measures to address the drug problem in the community,” said Chief Lux Benson.

“We have issued a warning to evict the residents of houses where drug activity is suspected. We will disconnect utilities and board up the doors and windows. The drug problem in our community is a serious and complex issue that requires a coordinated and effective response from various stakeholders.”

Benson said one of the key partners we need in this effort is the RCMP who have the mandate and the expertise to enforce the law and disrupt the supply of illicit substances.

“We urge the RCMP to step up and help us address this challenge by increasing their presence, resources, and collaboration,” said Benson.

Red Pheasant First Nations say most overdoses could be attributed to addictions and mental health issues.

They are also calling on the federal health minister and the provincial government to sit down and discuss how they can deliver a healthcare strategy to their First Nations that will work.

“We call on all our leaders to act now and save lives. Red Pheasant believes these actions are necessary to protect the Treaty and the inherent rights of First Nations people and to ensure their health, well-being, and dignity.”

Red Pheasant Cree Nation is a Plains Cree First Nations located about 33 kilometres south of North Battleford.

Specially trained detection dog recently found invasive mussels on a boat entering B.C.

Invasive mussels found

A specially trained detection dog recently prevented invasive mussels from entering B.C. waters.

In a Facebook post, the Conservation Officer Service said a boat travelling from Ontario was recently stopped at a watercraft inspection station in Golden.

“Kilo, one of two BCCOS interdiction detection dogs trained to detect invasive mussels, indicated a positive presence – some mussels are so tiny they can be affixed to internal out-of-reach engine parts. Due to this, a mandatory 30-day quarantine period was issued for the watercraft, which was also sealed.” the Conservation Officers Service said.

“The inspection led to the discovery of invasive mussels, at which time specialized equipment was used to decontaminate the watercraft.”

The owner was given a $230 ticket for the unlawful transport of a prohibited species.

“This incident highlights the effectiveness of how mandatory watercraft inspection stations, and co-operation and collaboration with program partners, are helping to prevent invasive mussels from entering BC waterways,” the BCCOS says.

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