A meeting to give voice to people living in resource communities, their workers and families, is slated for Sunday, Sept. 15 in Williams Lake hosted by The North Matters.
Originating out of Kitimat in 2018, The North Matters began as a way to bring people together in resource communities so they can have a voice, said Kitimat resident Dave Johnston, a key organizer of the movement.
“It rose out of frustration for myself with all the misinformation out there and all the U.S.-funded protesters and activists spreading all the misinformation about Canadian resources,” Johnston told the Tribune Monday. “I’m a electrician and I’ve worked in oil and gas, fisheries, mining and forestry. I’ve seen first hand the standards and level of protection for the environment, that basically the workers on these projects that live in these communities for so many years have continued to push for.”
Johnston said resource workers are the ‘real protectors.’
Initially he reached out to people who were posting similar interests and frustrations on Facebook in Kitimat.
“I started reaching out to them and we formed a group here in Kitimat and called it The North Matters.”
They incorporated the group and started putting on different events.
“Our aim is not only to dispel all the myths, and actually get the real facts out there, but to also hold industry to account in our communities.”
Williams Lake resident Robert Bennetts has been a resource labourer on an oil rig in Alberta for 17 seasons and is gone away working for weeks at a time.
He said he reached out to Johnston asking if he could host a meeting in the lakecity.
“I thought it would be good because if we formed our own board here,” Bennetts said. “It gives us a platform as a community to express our concerns and have a stronger voice for the bigger governing bodies.”
Bennetts has been spreading the word about the upcoming meeting and is hoping anyone that is interested in forming a Williams Lake Matters board will attend.
“It is a big concern. I watch social media and see conspiracy theories, but when you start hearing from leaders concerned about huge groups from foreign countries that have funded groups that will suppress our ability as Canadians to extract and develop our resources.”
Johnston said there have been community engagement meetings in places such as Smithers, Houston, Fort Nelson, Quesnel and Prince George.
“We have been meeting with people who are leaders and want to see the best for the community,” he said.
Mayor Walt Cobb is also sharing information about the meeting in Williams Lake, but said he is not doing that as the mayor.
“I’m doing this on my own, the council is not involved at this stage of the game,” he said Monday. “I think it’s urgent. Some of the things they are doing I’ve heard about for months.”
It’s a movement that wants to let everyone know that the north matters, he added.
“We need jobs and we need to work.”
The meeting will start at 1:30 p.m. at the Pioneer Complex in Williams Lake, Sunday, Sept. 15.