Frontline health care workers at Cariboo Memorial Hospital went outside for a lot of love and appreciation directed their way by other essential services such as the RCMP, Conservation Officer Service, Emergency Health Services, Williams Lake Fire Department, 150 Mile Volunteer Fire Department and the Wildwood Volunteer Fire Department Saturday night, March 28, 2020. (Patrick Davies - Williams Lake Tribune)

Frontline health care workers at Cariboo Memorial Hospital went outside for a lot of love and appreciation directed their way by other essential services such as the RCMP, Conservation Officer Service, Emergency Health Services, Williams Lake Fire Department, 150 Mile Volunteer Fire Department and the Wildwood Volunteer Fire Department Saturday night, March 28, 2020. (Patrick Davies - Williams Lake Tribune)

YEAR IN REVIEW: March 2020

B.C. to suspend K-12 schools indefinitely due to COVID-19

March 12, 2020

Artifacts uncovered at Sugar Cane site near Williams Lake could be 4,000 years old

One of last year’s mudslides near the newly completed Highway 97 four-lane project south of Williams Lake revealed a house platform and artifacts, some dating back to almost 4,000 years ago.

“In one 30 cm by 30 cm unit, 497 artifacts were found, so you can imagine how dense that is,” said Whitney Spearing, archaeologist and natural resources co-ordinator for Williams Lake First Nation of the area they studied located at Sugar Cane adjacent to Sutton Road. “We could have spent another two years there collecting.”

Between July and October 2019, 3,200 artifacts were collected, including 14 carbon samples, two ash samples, two ochre samples, one burnt seed pod and a fragment of a bone bead.

The site was originally identified as Plateau Horizon, which would have placed it in the 2,400 to 1,200 before present (BP) time line.

Artifacts found last summer indicate the site goes back even further to the Kamloops Horizon and Shuswap Horizon which range from 200 BP down to 3,600 BP, Spearing said, explaining that before present is the year 1950.

March 12, 2020

Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse urges caution amid COVID-19

Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse is urging all band members to err on the side of caution amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It never hurts to play it safe, especially if you have people in your family who have underlying health issues and illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, asthma and heart conditions,” Alphonse told the Tribune, adding for the time being he is shutting himself down and will not be travelling to any big cities in the near future.

The new coronavirus has to be taken seriously, he said.

“On its own up against a healthy body the coronavirus might make a person really sick and they have a good chance of coming out of it OK, but if they have underlying issues it can get really serious.”

He encouraged band members to take the time to stock up on food, to limit contact with other people, be vigilant with handwashing and keep informed by checking with media.

“We all have to do our part and look out for one another, check on family and friends to make sure everyone is OK. Clean your homes — the best thing we can do is stop the spread of germs.”

March 17, 2020

B.C. to suspend K-12 schools indefinitely due to COVID-19

British Columbia is suspending K-12 classes indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Premier John Horgan said Tuesday, March 17, 2020.

The news comes as the province has seven deaths and at least 185 cases of COVID-19 in B.C. Gatherings of 50 or more people have been banned and health officials are telling people to stay in Canada. On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Canadians to “stay home” if at all possible. The province declared a public health emergency just hours after announcing the suspension of classes.

“This is a crisis situation, there’s no making that sound any better,” Horgan said. He said a decision on when classes return will be made in the future.

Education Minister Rob Fleming said all students who are currently on track to move onto the next grade, or to graduate, will do so and the province is working with post-secondary institutions.

Arrangements will also be made to help provide school meals for at-risk students, he noted.

Although the vast majority of students are on spring break currently, Fleming said students who are still in class – Nechako Lakes students and some independent schools – will be told close immediately.

“We’ve urged schools and school districts to begin planning now to ensure a continuity of learning while in-class instruction is suspended in B.C. schools indefinitely,” Fleming said.

March 23, 2020

City activates EOC for COVID-19 response

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, Williams Lake activated its emergency operations centre (EOC) on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 but at a low-risk level.

“As of (Tuesday) there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Williams Lake that the City has been made aware of,” corporate engagement officer Guillermo Angel told the Tribune.

“Interior Health Authority (IH) would be the local agency that would be made aware of where confirmed cases are and the City and IH have a good working relationship and positive communication channels,” Angel said.

However, Angel added the City encourages all residents to practice self-isolation and social distancing methods, to leave home only if absolutely necessary and practice effective hygiene.

On Friday, March 20, 2020 the City closed all playgrounds in Williams Lake.

March 28, 2020

A heartfelt salute to health care workers

Williams Lake residents had a loud distraction from COVID-19 pandemic measures Saturday evening, March 28, 2020.

Sirens were blasting, horns were blaring and lights were flashing as emergency responders paid tribute to health care workers.

Just before 7 p.m. 37 emergency vehicles departed from the Williams Lake Fire Hall, drove up the highway, turned off and onto Western Avenue, then travelled down Johnson Street into the Cariboo Memorial Hospital parking lot.

As there wasn’t enough room in the parking lot for all the vehicles to stop at once, they paraded past the hospital and around two times as was planned.

Outside the front of the hospital about a dozen health care professionals stood waving, clapping, cheering and showing with emotion how appreciative they were of the gesture.

“Stay Safe Together,” read a large yellow sign held up by two nurses.

Participating in the parade were Central Cariboo Search and Rescue, Emergency Health Services, Williams Lake RCMP, RCMP Police Dog Services, BC Sheriffs, BC Conservation Officer Service, Wildwood Volunteer Fire Department, 150 Mile Volunteer Fire Department and the Williams Lake Fire Dept.

Central Cariboo Search and Rescue crew members were also lined up on the sidewalk cheering and ringing bells.

When it was over several of the nurses said it was ‘amazing.’

Deputy Chief Rob Warnock told the Tribune afterwards a few people got talking on Facebook Friday night and decided they wanted to put together the tribute. They started tagging other departments to join in and in no time had a good sized group.

“It worked out fantastic,” he said. “Thank you to our hospital workers. Usually it’s the fire departments, search and rescue, and the RCMP getting all the kudos so we were giving it right back to the hospital workers.”

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