Williams Lake marked Orange Shirt Day Wednesday in Boitanio Park with hundreds of students and staff members from local schools. Patrick Davies photo

SEPTEMBER: Year in Review

A look back at September’s top stories in Williams Lake and the Cariboo Chilcotin

Sockeye salmon return in droves to Quesnel Lake watershed

Sept. 5

Organizers of the Horsefly Salmon Festival had something to celebrate this year.

Residents and visitors of the small rural community witnessed what the estimates were predicting — the initial, pre-season forecast of 1.14 million fish for the Quesnel sockeye salmon was adjusted to 2.156 million.

The return was a relief and a sign of hope to many who have been worried about the struggling run for years.

“This year is insane. It’s wonderful to see so many fish in the river,” said Dina Stephenson, Horsefly resident and one of the organizers of the Horsefly Salmon Festival.

Xeni Gwet’in wagon trip documentary premiers at Vancouver International Film Festival

Sept. 5

The Xeni Gwet’in Annual Wagon Trip was featured on the world stage through a new documentary that premiered at the Vancouver International Film Festival this past fall.

Created by Indigenous filmmakers Trevor Mack and Asia Youngman, In The Valley of Wild Horses follows the week-long wagon trip from Xeni Gwet’in (Nemiah Valley) to the Williams Lake Stampede.

“The organizers of the wagon trip always wanted to document it to be used as an example of land-based healing,” Mack said. “I think the timing was right in terms of myself and Asia and Xeni Gwet’in. It’s a pretty magical trip and journey.”

Neither of them had ever done the wagon trip before, and through the experience they discovered a “great” sense of community.

This year’s Vancouver International Film Festival ran from Sept. 27 to Oct. 12.

Read more: Filmmakers screen Xeni Gwet’in Wagon documentary to full house in Williams Lake

B.C. Interior First Nations announce limited-entry moose hunt ban

Sept. 7

Several First Nations communities in B.C.’s Interior joined together to ban all limited-entry hunts (LEH) for moose within their respective territories this fall.

The Tsilhqot’in Nation and Southern Dãkelh Nation Alliance (SDNA) shared a map early September showing the area included in the ban.

It encompasses from Vanderhoof and Prince George in the north to Valemount in the east, just east of Bella Coola in the west and areas southwest of Williams Lake near Tl’esqox (Riske Creek), Tl’etinqox (Anaham), Tsideldel (Redstone) and Xeni Gwet’in (Nemiah Valley).

The Tsilhqot’in and Dãkelh said many of their citizens were deciding not to exercise their Aboriginal rights to hunt moose and were going without this main source of food for the winter.

Rivet wins BCRA junior barrel racing championship

Sept. 7

Riding an already hot season into the BC Rodeo Association Finals in Barriere, Reese Rivet didn’t disappoint.

After three goes Rivet secured first place and the BCRA championship buckle in junior barrel racing at the event.

Her season and points on the weekend accumulated, coupled with a strong weekend, gave Rivet the championship and a $1,200 payout for her efforts. Rivet credited her horse, Oreo, for part of her success, and said they make a great team.

Police nab suspect in shots fired case

Sept. 12

Williams Lake RCMP made an arrest following a shots fired complaint early September.

Daine Alphonse, 30, was arrested and charged with possession of weapon for dangerous purpose, unlawfully discharge a firearm, use of a firearm to commit an indictable offence and careless use of a firearm.

The charges stem from a complaint from Aug. 30 at about 1:20 a.m. when a Williams Lake resident reported that their house had been struck by a bullet. The house, in the 300 Block of 9th Ave, was occupied at the time and thankfully no one was injured.

Read more: Police nab suspects in shots fired case

Community embraces Williams Lake Harvest Fair

Sept. 12

By all accounts this year’s Williams Lake Harvest Fair was by far one of the biggest, best and most well-attended fairs the community has ever seen, said organizers and participants.

Coming back strong after last year’s hiatus due to wildfires, the event attracted some 4,350 visitors and more than 1,200 entries in everything from baking to gardening to preserving and, of course, quilting.

“It is the best attendance we have ever had at the fair,” organizer Tammy Tugnum said.

Free admission to the event was possible through funding from Health Emergency Management B.C., Red Cross B.C., and the Provincial Health Services Authority through the United Way Thompson Nicola Branch.

Northern Capitals to have lakecity connection

Sept. 12

The Northern Capitals of the Female Midget AAA league have a visible Williams Lake flare this season where six lakecity hockey players are suiting up for the Prince George-based team.

Brette Kerley, Paige Outhouse, Sara Vermeulen, Pyper Alexander, Bronwyn Pocock and Cadence Peticlerc-Crosby — all from last year’s 2017/18 Midget Female Williams Lake Timberwolves provincial championship winning team — made the trek north to chase their hockey dreams at a higher level of competition.

Callens finishes Amazing Race Canada in second place

Sept. 12

Two B.C. RCMP officers made it all the way to the final three in the Amazing Race Canada Heroes edition, finishing second overall during the finale broadcast on Tuesday night (Sept. 11).

Courtney Callens, a property crime investigator with the Langley detachment and her brother Taylor Callens, who is an RCMP officer in the Williams Lake detachment, had been leading the race for most of the 11 broadcast episodes, but were edged at the finish line by rivals Courtney Berglind and Adam Kovacs, first responders who are engaged to be married.

At the end, Courtney Callens called Taylor “an amazing teammate, an amazing partner … the best brother”

“It would have been nice to bring home the number one, but I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything,” she said.

“Spending time together, it’s been so nice.”

Taylor said he was “never prouder of my sister … watching Courtney having kind of low expectations, and then dominating it, for a brother, it was awesome.

“I think the memories that we shared throughout all the legs, it’s kind of our prize,” he said.

After 25 years Tour de Cariboo officially ends

Sept. 14

The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Williams Lake’s 25-year-old Tour de Cariboo fundraiser completed its final ride Sept. 8.

Melissa Newberry, the longtime organizer of the ride and the executive director of BBBSWL, said they were uncertain about what type of ridership they would attract with the 25th and final event, however, Newberry said they ended up having 39 registered riders complete the race, right in the middle of their lowest turnout, 20, and their highest, 108.

This year the Tour de Cariboo raised $38,100.

Newberry said she lays the credit for Tour de Cariboo’s 25-year success at the feet of the people of Williams Lake. The people of the town never cease to astound her with their generosity towards non-profits such as BBBSWL, something that makes Newberry proud to live in Williams Lake.

Council: ‘We want to put the lake back in Williams Lake’

Sept. 21

After years of negotiations with BC Rail, the City announced the acquisition of the RC Cotton site at the head of Williams Lake for a recreation trail and lakefront access.

“This is so exciting for our city,” said Coun. Scott Nelson of the City owning the 10-acre parcel of prime waterfront. “This access is critical. It’s going to be the gateway to the lake. We’re finally putting the ‘lake’ back in Williams Lake.”

The deal is a huge feather in the cap of councillors, so to speak, as the lands will provide a second link to Scout Island, a much needed boat launch as well as a vital connection to the River Valley recreation trail system, joining the Stampede Grounds, Scout Island and the first and second beaches on the lake, which are currently very difficult to access, via a 1.3-kilometre route.

The RC Cotton lands, however, cannot be disturbed for building due to historic industrial use and concerns with contamination. The goal instead is to create a lakeside trail alongside the shoreline, providing viewing over the marsh and conserving the natural lake edge, and fencing to separate walkers from the nearby railway tracks which run along the lake.

New affordable housing unit gets cash injection

Sept. 26

An affordable housing project under construction in Williams Lake received an $8-million boost from the provincial government late September.

Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Selina Robinson, was in the lakecity to make the announcement across the street from the new 39-unit building on First Avenue, which is a joint project between the Association for Community Living Williams Lake and BC Housing Management Corp.

“The investment is part of a commitment we made last September to bring online 1,700 units of affordable housing, so this is one of those projects we had been looking at,” Robinson told the Tribune. “We are thrilled that it is here in Williams Lake. We are committing $1.9 billion in funding for municipalities, non-profits and co-operative housing societies to build the kinds of affordable homes that people need.”

Cops for Cancer Tour de North raises $195,000

Sept. 26

Cops for Cancer Tour de North riders, including five from Williams Lake, completed their seven day, 850 kilometre journey from Prince George to Prince Rupert early Thursday evening.

In all, the fundraiser collected $195,000 for cancer research.

From Williams Lake Dave Dickson, Const. Joel Kooger and his wife, Alison Kooger, Const. Taylor Callens and Const. Isaac Perreault Labbe, joined fellow riders as they pushed their pedals the last few clicks under a sunny sky — a great departure from earlier in the trip when the team was greeted with sleet, rain, heavy winds and cold temperatures.

Sea of orange blankets Boitanio Park for Orange Shirt Day

Sept. 28

Hundreds of students from across the Cariboo-Chilcotin gathered in Williams Lake’s Boitanio Park to celebrate Orange Shirt Day.

Started five years ago by Cariboo-Chilcotin School District No.27 as a part of a reconciliation mandate, Orange Shirt Day has exploded in popularity across the country. Now celebrated across B.C and Canada, it is one of two days Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet is considering to make a statutory holiday, in honour of Indigenous people.

Gathered together in what Superintendent Mark Wintjes described as “a sea of orange” students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 came together with members of the community, including several residential school survivors, to mark this special day. Featuring speakers such as MLA Donna Barnett, Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb and Esk’etemc Chief Fred Robbins, the event gave survivors a voice and a path forward together.



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