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FOREST INK: Community forest celebrated at Tatla Lake community hall

Most of the people I talked to were optimistic about the trust being able to support future projects
Jim Hilton pens a column on forestry each week for the Williams Lake Tribune. (File photo)

On April 6 my wife and I attended the celebration of the establishment of the Tatla Resource Association Community Trust.

The Tatla Lake community hall was filled to capacity with residents from the Tatla Lake, Puntzi and area to enjoy a dinner and dance.

Prior to the meal Peter Shaughnessy and Joe Cortese gave some of the history leading up to this moment and wanted to recognize the importance of the partnership between the Tatla Resource Association (TRA) and Tsideldel First Nation (TDDFN) along with the many individuals who have volunteered countless hours of their time which has made this celebration possible. Peter encouraged the participants to review the various articles about the history of the Eniyud Community Forest (ECF) on the stage at the end of the hall. There was also a large cheque showing the $1,400,000 which was used to establish the trust fund.

Ervin Charleyboy (past chief of TDD) attended on behalf of his community and shared some of the benefits that his community has received. Unfortunately, the recent loss of a few members of their community has made it difficult for them to celebrate at this time.

It is also a bitter sweet time for many of the TRA volunteers involved in the early days of the community forest establishment when members were using their personal funds to make things happen until the logging revenues started coming in.

Most of the people I talked to were optimistic about the trust being able to support future projects and potential employment for the youth who were also well represented at the dinner and dance.

Keeping logging revenues in the community along with providing jobs for the youth, allowing them opportunities to work locally, was always one of the items discussed at many of the early meetings.

As is the case for most organizations like community forests, the founding members will be replaced by new volunteers who will be inheriting a much more profitable organization than in 2008.

Also very evident at the April 6 event was the spouses, partners and other family members that were there to support the individuals volunteering in the many positions since the beginning of the TRA and ECF. In most cases the retiring individuals will be remaining in the community to help guide their replacements who will no doubt be involved with new opportunities made possible by everyone’s hard work.

As an owner of a recreational property since the late 1970s as well as working in various capacities with members of the TRA and TDDFN I have come to appreciate the resilience and hard-working attitude of the Chilcotin people. It is the love and appreciation of the land and the goal of leaving a productive legacy for future generations that supports the volunteers in the many and varied positions.

In future articles I look forward to describing how funds and local talents are contributing to the ongoing projects of both partnerships.