It was a bittersweet meeting for the New Pathways to Gold Society (NPGS) in late April.
The group was celebrating returning to an in-person meeting at Hat Creek Ranch. It was also their first meeting since long-time member and chair Terry Raymond died after a long battle with cancer April 7.
Raymond had been co-chair with the group since 2011, and was replaced in that position by Brent Rutherford.
“No one can really replace Terry,” Rutherford said in a news release.
“But I hope that with the support of my fellow executive and directors, I can help carry on Terry’s legacy of working for Indigenous reconciliation, multiculturalism and economic development through heritage tourism.”
Don Hauka, the executive director of NPGS said the area the group supports, stretching from Hope to Barkerville, is one of the most diverse tourism corridors in the country.
“There is so many different dramatic landscapes, vibrant communities,” he said.
“There’s 38 Indigenous communities between Hope and Barkerville… That diversity is a strength. There’s always so many different things to do, so many different people to engage with.”
The society has taken advantage of pandemic stimulus money to make more investments in the region, including efforts to refurbish the Cariboo-Waggon Road.
“We’ve been able to access just about $1 million dollars of funding from the COVID-side,” Hauka said.
“We’re gearing up for the spring season, if it ever stops snowing up there.”
Hauka added he sees the society as a group focused on reconciliation and economic development.
“The two go hand hand-in-hand,” he said.
“Our job is to build heritage tourism assets up and down the corridor, to attract more people. It’s especially valuable now that we’re emerging from the pandemic. and people are starting to come in.”
The NPGS board is divided evenly between Indigenous and non-Indigenous members, and have raised $5 million since their founding in 2007.
Cheryl Chapman, who was affirmed as the society’s Indigenous co-chair at the meeting, also paid tribute to Raymond.
“Terry leaves a big hole in both our Society and in our hearts,” she said.
“But he continues to inspire me and the entire board as we move forward and honour his life work in the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in the Hope to Barkerville corridor and beyond.”
More information on the society’s projects can be found on their website, newpathwaystogold.ca.
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