150 Mile House Volunteer Fire Dept. Chief Stan McCarthy is one of the speakers lined up for the wildfire recovery expo, taking place Wednesday, May 30 at the Cariboo Memorial Complex. McCarthy will give a firefighter’s perspective on stress and debriefing after the wildfires. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Wildfire expo aims to destress by helping citizens prepare

Organizers of the upcoming wildfire recovery expo are hoping to help alleviate some of the stress

Organizers of the upcoming wildfire recovery expo are hoping to help alleviate some of the stress locals may be feeling as the wildfire season approaches.

“It will be an opportunity for people to visit with neighbours, friends and relatives and hopefully leave at the end of the day on a positive note,” the city’s wildfire recovery manager Trevor Kier told the Tribune as he firmed up final details of the event set to take place Wednesday, May 30 at the Cariboo Memorial Complex.

A joint venture between the City of Williams Lake, Cariboo Regional District (CRD) and the Ministry of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, it is hoped the expo will provide people with valuable information.

“We don’t want to create triggers, but rather de-stress people by telling them how to prepare,” Kier said.

The free expo and children’s activities begin at 3 p.m. with 40 tables and representatives from 25 agencies and associations on hand to answer questions.

The free barbecue — serving regular and veggie burgers — will run from 5 to 7 p.m.

Beginning at noon there will also be a series of informational talks, followed by a community thank you and keynote address at 7 p.m.

Topics explored during the talks will cover a wide range.

The talks begin with Employee Retention and Recruitment Tips and Tricks presented by Horton Ventures Inc. and WorkBC Employment Services’ Nancy Thorn and Dragan Jukic from 12 to 1 p.m.

Next will be Cultivating Compassion in the Work Place from 1 to 1:30 p.m. with Bree Odd, Williams Lake community wellness manager followed by an Economic Development roundtable from 1:30 to 2 p.m.

Tricia McLellan of Satya Yoga and Bettina Egert from CMHA will present Yoga for Stress Management and Self Awareness from 2 to 2:30 p.m.

Cariboo Bethel pastor Jeremy Vogt will talk about Resiliency Through Good Neighbouring from 2:30 to 3:15 p.m., followed by Cariboo Fire Centre’s Rory Colwell on FireSmarting Homes and Property and Fuel Mitigation in Wild Land Urban Interface from 3:30 to 4:15 p.m.

Forester Hugh Flinton will give a Williams Lake Community Forest update 4:15 to 4:30 p.m. and then CMHA executive director Janice Breck will explore stress and stress management from 4:30 to 5 p.m.

Kier is hoping 150 Mile Fire Dept. Chief Stan McCarthy’s presentation on Stress and Debriefing from 5 to 6 p.m. will be a big draw, as he will give a firefighter’s perspective.

Williams Lake Indian Band councillor Willie Sellars, filmmaker Mitch Cheek, and mountain biking developers Mark Savard and Thomas Schoen will close out the informational talks from 6 to 6:30 p.m. with a discussion on rebuilding for the future and mountain bike trails on WLIB traditional territory.

The Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society is supporting the expo by working with the Rotary Club of Williams Lake on the barbecue.

Last week CCCS said it will be sending in its Waste Wise team.

The original plan for the barbecue was to serve burgers with a bag of chips, but when the Waste Wise team mentioned chip bags are not recyclable, the Rotary Club responded with beans, said CCCS Chief Green officer Oliver Berger.

“A good old cowboy tradition, right?” Berger said. “When you come out to the free barbecue and are served beans with your burger, you can enjoy them knowing that you are contributing less to the landfill.”

The planning committee decided to go one step further and provide beverages in recyclable cups and are using plastic-free utensils as well, he said.

“It will be great to have us all together again as a community so we can continue to share our stories and work together to a progressive future,” Berger added.

People wanting to help manage waste are encouraged to check out the City of Williams Lake Facebook page to note how many burgers their family will need.

An evening session beginning at 7 p.m. will see a welcoming prayer from WLIB elder Virginia Gilbert, followed by comments from Mayor Walt Cobb and CRD Area F director Joan Sorley.

Mike Pedersen, regional executive director of the Cariboo Region, Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources and Rural Development will give a keynote address about the state of the land — our forests and grasslands, Kier said.

Cariboo Chilcotin photographer Chris Harris will do a short presentation on a video he has created about rejuvenation after the wildfires and Breck will add to the theme of rejuvenation by discussing how, similar to the land, human beings are also resilient.

“Chris will capture rejuvenation visually while Janice will touch on the human perspective,” Kier explained.

The evening will end with a performance by local musician LeRae Haynes who will be launching a song she has written about the fires.

“We thought it would be a great way to wrap up the day having her share it with the community,” Kier said.

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