Members of the Tl’etinqox First Nation west of Williams Lake couldn’t stop smiling this week at the long-awaited grand opening Wednesday, March 3, of the community’s newly built, $4.5-million gas bar — Chilcotin River Trading.
Wearing a face mask, Tl’etinqox elder Melanie Bobby cut a string made of deer hide and dream catchers in recognition of the opening, then triumphantly raised it in the air over her head.
“We don’t do ribbons,” Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse said. “We do hide—it’s the Indigenous way.”
Alphonse said had they not had to keep the grand opening small due to the pandemic, they would have invited all of Tl’etinqox and surrounding communities to celebrate.
The project’s completion west of Williams Lake had been years in the making.
“We had hoped we would get it up and running in 2017, and then the fires hit, and it seemed like we had to start all over again, but it’s here,” Alphonse said.
Coun. and manager of Chilcotin River Trading, Alana Bobby told Black Press Media she was excited about the “bigger, better building,” which has a kitchen and allows for more product, including Spirit Bear Coffee, Mr. Bannock as well as locally grown, organic beef from Hanceville Cattle Co.
She had been promoted to manager after starting as a gas attendant at the old Tl’etinqox Trading many years ago.
Tl’etinqox Trading, which Bobby said was in need of extensive upgrades, will remain open until the remaining inventory is sold.
“Everyone is excited for the new store,” she said.
Alphonse praised gas bar staff for their hard work and dedication, noting they are always trying to bring on new employees.
He also thanked Tl’etinqox Government staff, including finance manager Dawn Bursey, for ensuring the completion of Chilcotin River Trading.
“For the first time in Canada, Esso delivered fuel to Tl’etinqox tax-free,” he said, noting he wants customer to feel confident with their products and services.
Chilcotin River Trading also offers six RV sites for travellers.
Alphonse embracing new business will lead to greater Independence for his community.