Premier’s visit and mayor’s resignation

Last week started with a memorable visit from B.C. premier Christy Clark, the first premier ever to visit the Southside.

What an eventful week in the Lakes District!

Last week started with a memorable visit from B.C. premier Christy Clark, the first premier ever to visit the Southside.

She arrived by helicopter along with Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief Corrina Leween, MLA for Nechako Lakes John Rustad and Mike Robertson, Senior Policy Advisor for Cheslatta.

Clark was over an hour late due to weather conditions that morning. Even though it was a beautiful and sunny day by the shore of Cheslatta Lake, a heavy fog was noticeable in surrounding areas.

Her helicopter landed at 1:30 p.m. Approximately 200 people had been waiting for her for a few hours (and most of us, including this reporter, were starting to get really hungry), but when she arrived, it all faded away.

You could easily feel how important this event was for the Cheslatta people and what a significant milestone it was to have a premier visiting their territory. A Cheslatta member described her visit by saying that the premier had “lifted their spirits.”

Even if you didn’t know about the history of the Cheslatta people and all that they’ve had to endure over the past 50 years, I bet you could easily still be moved by that ceremony.

When the premier arrived, she offered to take photos with Cheslatta members, she spoke with children – asking about their dreams -, and she held a baby – the youngest Cheslatta member.

Even though this was certainly a positive step for both the province and Cheslatta, I hope this agreement will translate into actions from now on. I hope that Cheslatta members will actually be able to see the benefits of this agreement where they are needed the most.

During the premier’s visit, Lakes District News asked Clark about the proposed water release facility, a solution identified by Cheslatta leaders to address the yearly flooding. Make sure you read our next issue to find out what she said.

What also marked last week was the resignation of Luke Strimbold, who had been the mayor of Burns Lake since 2011.

Having covered the Burns Lake council for the past two years, I have always been impressed by Strimbold’s ability to handle stressful situations, to ensure that everyone felt heard, and his innate talent to bring fairness to the table.

In particular, I was impressed by his efforts and commitment when the board of the College of New Caledonia decided to transfer all family programs to other organizations, damaging the hub model that Burns Lake had had for over 25 years.

When council’s efforts weren’t enough to stop that particular change from happening, Strimbold felt personally responsible, saying that was “one of his biggest failures as a mayor.”

I had never seen a politician at the local level with such greatness before, so I was impressed to see it in him – the youngest mayor in British Columbia, and the second youngest mayor in Canada.

We obviously don’t know who will be the next mayor, but we know that he or she will have some big shoes to fill.