August 24, 2016
We live in a great country, in a great part of this great country where we are busy building traditions and solidifying relationships that bind together municipality and rural communities. Of course, I am not so naive as to believe that our relationships are all cuddly and warm. We do have our differences. However, I am solidly on the side of working these differences out for our mutual benefit. I also am a confirmed believer that this desire is shared by just about everyone in the region.
Taylor’s annual gold panning opportunity to strike it rich, the Dawson Creek Fall Fair and Rodeo, Grizfest, Emperor’s Challenge, and Global Geopark in Tumbler Ridge, the annual Chetwynd invitational chainsaw sculpturing competition, and the scores of other, perhaps less-publicised but hardly less-important opportunities to get together and celebrate our traditions belong to all of us and serve to create a regional pride in our northeast identity.
Recently Chetwynd has been seeking opportunities to share the rewards of the chainsaw competition with other communities in the northeast. Tumbler Ridge is now the very proud owner of the Chetwysaur, a one-of-a-kind artifact from antiquity discovered inside a block of cedar wood (not mineralized in a block of stone). Who would have guessed? It’s worth a trip to that lovely community just to see it standing unmoving, unblinking at the gorgeous tourist information centre.
In keeping with the theme of Fall Fair and Rodeo, Dawson Creek is now host to the Sleeping Cowboy, a work of art by Chetwynd’s own Blaine Brake. Across the political frontier but still within our great northeast, the Grande Prairie airport will soon be welcoming its passing guests with another piece of Chetwynd-chainsaw art, the Swan Dance, freed only last June from the aromatic embrace of a great cedar tree.
Chetwynd is gradually expanding the web of relationships with chainsaw sculptures exciting the admiration and wonder of happy wanderers from Prince George through Mackenzie to Grande Prairie.
But Chetwynd is more than screaming chainsaws, cedar blocks, and sawdust. Motorbikers from Chetwynd have reached out a hand to other riders in our great-northeast communities to join in the Peace Region Community 2 Community Poker Ride. Chetwynd, Moberly Lake, Hudson’s Hope, Fort St. John, Taylor, Dawson Creek, Pouce Coupe, Tumbler Ridge, are drawn together by a day of fun in the wind and freedom from cares. Got bike? Do rumble!
But our differences remain. Maybe they will never disappear. Maybe we simply have to learn the art and grace of respect for each other with our inherited and cultivated tendencies to be the things we are. Maybe it’s our differences that make us strong. Maybe we need to cultivate our differences and enjoy them.
Chetwynd, young in spirit and vigorous, looking to the future while sustained by forests, farms, shipping, tourists, and gas is the western gateway to the Peace. Hudson’s Hope with its history, its agriculture, and its electrons brightens our nights. Fort St. John, built on the soil and the stuff below the soil feeds out tummies and warms our hearths. Taylor, close our eyes for a moment on a foggy night and we’ve missed you. Still you pump the energy for the nation. Dawson Creek, flexing its gaseous muscles while sustained by the brawn of the independent farmer is the pride of generations. Pouce Coupe, once the locus of provincial government in the area, now a quiet evening retreat, we need you. Tumbler Ridge, the baby of the northeast, leads the way in bridging past and present.
And that’s not all, not at all! There’re the Prespatous, the Doigs, the Rollas, the Lone Prairies, the Saulteaus, the Half Ways and scores of other rural and First Nations communities that form part of the fabric of our wonderful country.
Long live the difference.
Merlin Nichols, Mayor