Defined by our forests

It’s National Forest Week and this year’s theme “Healthy Forests Healthy Communities”, couldn’t be more appropriate for the Lakes District.

It’s National Forest Week (Sept. 23 – 29) and this year’s theme, “Healthy Forests — Healthy Communities”, couldn’t be more appropriate for the Lakes District. The forests absolutely define life in Northern B.C. They sustain industry and define the landscape. We carve out our recreation sites in them and demarcate our parks by them.  We hike in them, ride our bikes in them and access our lakes through them. In the winter we ski in them, snowshoe in them, sled through them and some of us even heat our homes with what we take out of them.

I moved west, a long time ago, from a part of the country a lot like the Lakes District.  My earliest memories of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., where I was born and raised, are of the forests, lakes and rivers that set the backdrop for life in northern Ontario. The rugged north shore of Lake Superior and the small forestry towns that pepper the Trans-Canada Highway between the Sault and Thunder Bay would strike anybody from Burns Lake as being a lot like home. I didn’t move west straight from the Sault. There were a lot of stops and detours along the way and I can say from experience that it’s easy to forget what really defines you if you’re not careful.

I wasn’t here during the fierce mountain pine beetle tsunami that tore through the forest, and I wasn’t here last January when the tragedy of the Babine mill explosion rocked all the mill towns of B.C. What happened here could have happened anywhere and everyone was paying attention. But it didn’t affect me or anyone I knew directly so it all remained abstract. I didn’t know what to expect once I knew I’d be going to Burns Lake, but I sure didn’t expect what I found.

Moving here was an eye-opener. Except for a few signs lining the highway you wouldn’t know that less than a year ago the town had lost its biggest employer. Every where I went I found positive and strong energy. Burns Lake doesn’t feel like a town on its heels, it feels like a town that’s moving forward no matter what happened in the past. That’s a hard thing to do.

Friends who I left behind when I moved to Burns Lake ask me what it’s like to be here where so much has gone terribly wrong, at least as seen through the news media. I tell them that they don’t get it, that  this isn’t a town that has forgotten what it is about and become defined by something terrible that happened to it. I tell them that it’s inspiring to be here and that the people I meet everyday make me feel great about the future of this town and of other forest towns that share its spirit.

Last Sunday, about a dozen Lakes District Secondary School students and adult volunteers swung pulaskis, moved rocks, cleared brush and hammered boards as they worked hard to shape a new section of trail through the forest up at Boer Mountain. If you consider the network of community, provincial and private efforts that made it possible for those young men and women to spend a weekend afternoon working hard in their forest backyard to create something good for tomorrow, you feel a lot of optimism for the future.

National Forest Week?  I’m sure a lot of people need a reminder about how interconnected we are with the forest, but the people here aren’t among them. As an outsider coming in it’s clear to me that Burns Lake has never forgotten that, the very thing that defines it.


Just Posted

Coastal GasLink gets interim injunction against Unist’ot’en

The LNG pipeline company can start work Monday with enforcement approved by court.

Biking among traditional outdoor sport draws for Burns Lake poll shows

Mountain biking is one of the top four outdoor activities that drew… Continue reading

Climate change affects Nechako watershed, worsens fires, group says

The Nechako watershed is feeling the effects of more intense widlfires and… Continue reading

Oil tanker ban to be reviewed by committee

Indigenous groups for and against Bill C-48 travel to Ottawa to influence the Senate’s decision

Fat tires on thick ice

Burns Lake fat bikers came out to enjoy the conditions on Kager… Continue reading

Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms

Of the 105 current senators, 54 are now independents who have banded together in Independent Senators’ Group

Boeser has 2 points as Canucks ground Flyers 5-1

WATCH: Vancouver has little trouble with slumping Philly side

Man dies after falling from B.C. bridge

Intoxicated man climbed railing, lost his balance and fell into the water below

B.C. animation team the ‘heart’ of new ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

The animators, largely based in Vancouver, ultimately came up with a creative technique that is drawing praise

Light at the end of the tunnel for UN climate talks

Meeting in Katowice was meant to finalize how countries report their emissions of greenhouses gases

Janet Jackson, Def Leppard, Nicks join Rock Hall of Fame

Radiohead, the Cure, Roxy Music and the Zombies will also be ushered in at the 34th induction ceremony

Supreme Court affirms privacy rights for Canadians who share a computer

Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects Canadians against unreasonable search and seizure

B.C. fire chief pleads with Ottawa for traumatic stress support

Campbell River fire chief Thomas Doherty presented concerns to federal government

‘I practically begged’: Kootenay woman with breast cancer denied referral to Calgary

Breast cancer patient left to fight disease alone after being denied referral to Calgary

Most Read