Siblings Lennard and Frances Supernault visit the location where the body of their brother, Gerald Supernault, was discovered in October, 2008 on the outskirts of the Sugar Cane Reserve just south of Williams Lake. The family is seeking closure for their brother’s unsolved murder and are asking witnesses to come forward. Angie Mindus photo

YEAR IN REVIEW: March 2019

Some highlights from March editions of the Tribune

The third month of 2019 saw the maternity ward close due to nursing shortage, former resident Kim Roberts awarded international recognition for fiber optics and new owners for Mt. Timothy Ski area.

Interior Health confirms CMH maternity ward closed due to critical staffing issues

March 1

Interior Health has confirmed maternity services are being temporarily suspended at Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake due to staff shortages.

“The safety issue has been paramount in our planning,” said David Matear, executive director, Interior Health West Hospitals and Communities of the reason for the decision. “We are doing everything that we can to restore the services as quickly as possible.”

In the meantime, expectant mothers across the Cariboo Chilcotin region are being forced to travel to Kamloops to have their babies in hospital.

It is a three-hour drive from Kamloops to Williams Lake and Matear said arrangements are being made to cover the costs of travel, lodging and meals.

Matear said there have been some recruitment challenges in Williams Lake over a period of time, and IH has been recruiting both nationally and internationally.

“We have seven nurses in a training program for specialty nurses in maternity care right now. Two of them will graduate and join Cariboo Memorial Hospital in June and the other five at the end of the year. We will have two places in the program every year thereafter,” Matear said.

Kim Roberts to be given prestigious award

March 1

A native son of Williams Lake has been cited for international recognition for his work in fiber optics and electrical engineering.

Kim Roberts, 59, who has lived in Ottawa since 1986, is the son of Anna Roberts of Grebe Drive, and the late Dr. John Roberts, a veterinary surgeon in Williams Lake. He will be presented with the prestigious 2019 John Tyndall award on March 7 in San Diego, California.

The award was established in 1987 by the Optical Society of America (OSA) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in memory of John Tyndal — who first guided light in a curved stream of water pouring from a barrel — to recognize pioneering and highly significant technical leadership in the field of fiber optics.

Roberts, who was born in Williams Lake in 1959, has over 160 U.S. patents to his credit.

Wildlife activists blast Williams Lake business for supporting ‘wolf-whacking’ contest

March 11

Wildlife activists are targeting a Williams Lake business and two rod and gun clubs in the Kootenays for hosting contests to kill animals, including wolves, coyotes, cougars and raccoons.

The Wildlife Protection Coalition, made up of 54 conservationists, animal protection organizations and scientists, is calling on the B.C. government to put a stop to the contests.

“The coalition is currently aware of three separate contests, the first is a “wolf-whacking contest” hosted by Chilcotin Guns in Williams Lake; the second is a “predator tournament” hosted by the Creston Valley Rod and Gun Club; and the third is hosted by the West Kootenay Outdoorsmen Club,” the Wildlife Protection Coalition stated in a press release issued Monday.

In an open letter dated March 10, addressed to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Doug Donaldson, the signatories from the coalitions highlighted concerns about the existence of contests throughout the province that are encouraging the indiscriminate killing of animals.

“In some cases, participants receive points for the type of animal killed and are competing for a cash prize,” the coalition stated.

A spokesperson from Chilcotin Guns said Monday morning the contest was started in support of the cattle industry which was being decimated due to an overpopulation of wolves attacking cattle over the last decade.

Romeros win Juno for Traditional Roots Album of the Year

March 20

Horsefly’s Pharis and Jason Romero became two-time JUNO Award winners Saturday night.

The husband and wife duo picked up the coveted JUNO for the 2019 Traditional Roots Album of the Year Award for their recent album Sweet Old Religion at the gala banquet Saturday night in London, Ont.

An excited Pharis announced the win via her Facebook page Saturday evening.

And while Jason and Pharis said prior to the show they were excited and honoured to have been nominated, due to recent travel commitments and an upcoming European tour beginning in April, decided they could not attend the JUNO’s this year.

“To [even] be nominated, in such amazing company, it’s such an honour,” Pharis said. “I’d be happy to lose to any one of those bands.”

Previously the couple won a JUNO back in 2016 for their album A Wanderer I’ll Stay.

Supernault family and RCMP make appeal to witnesses in Sugar Cane unsolved murder

March 22

It’s time.

That’s the message the Williams Lake RCMP and the family of Gerald Supernault have for witnesses holding critical information surrounding his murder and those responsible for his death more than 10 years ago.

“No matter how much healing I do and how much good I do, there’s always that wonder in my head that these people involved are still walking around and possibly hurting others,” said Gerald’s younger brother, Lennard Supernault.

Though it’s been a decade now, it’s obvious when talking to Lennard and his sister Frances this week they still carry the sharp pain of losing their brother, then 37, and having to live with the fact that the crime has gone unsolved in their small community of Sugar Cane all these years.

“It’s time to put this to rest, not only for our family but also for the community and for those involved. It is a heavy burden to carry.”

Gerald was born and raised at Sugar Cane, just south of Williams Lake. His siblings recall being jealous of his natural athletic ability and remember fondly his carefree spirit running through meadows as a child.

In the years leading up to his death, Gerald’s life had taken a dark turn in his struggle with alcohol, but he was still a valued member of the community and to his family, and split his time between the First Nations community of Toosey, where he lived with his partner Sadie Garland and her children, and Sugar Cane, where his family still lives on Moose Drive.

“He was known to disappear at times. He liked to take off and visit with his friends so it wasn’t unusual for him to be missing for two or three days,” said Lennard.

It is believed Gerald was last seen on Aug. 7 or 8. His body was discovered Oct. 4, 2008 in a wooded area at Sugar Cane.

WLIB opens Indigenous Bloom the lakecity’s first official cannabis dispensary

March 28

After an almost six month wait, the Williams Lake Indian Band opened the lakecity’s first official cannabis dispensary, Indigenous Bloom, on 1145 South Mackenzie Ave. March 23.

Cannabis was legalized across Canada last October, and while many local applications are awaiting license approval from the provincial government, the opening of Indigenous Bloom occurred on reserve land and in accordance with band law.

Indigenous Bloom and the WLIB could not have asked for a better day to hold their ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday. Dozens of people came out to browse the store’s wares, show their support and enjoy some bannock on a bright sunny day.

Chief Willie Sellars was excited to officially open the store and to start to “blaze a trail” for both Indigenous enterprise and diversifying the economy. Sellars said taking steps to move away from reliance solely on resource-based industries, such as forestry and mining, is important for the long-term economic growth and prosperity of the WLIB and the City of Williams Lake.



news@wltribune.com

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Williams Lake Indian Band Chief Willie Sellars and Titan Built Construction owner Darren McEachen inside WLIB’s new cannabis retail store, Indigenous Bloom, slated to open on Friday, March 22. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

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