I note that I have been classed as being in favour of the Taseko Corporation’s Prosperity mine project. I guess this is true, so the question becomes what does the mine do for me, a man of almost 80.
Certainly I have no plans to work on the project, so why should I care if the mine goes forward or not.
As a father of four children each born in the Bella Coola hospital I recognize how important it is for one’s children to live, get their education and find employment, get married, and raise their families as near as possible to the home of their upbringing surrounded by the heritage, and so very many of their dear and beloved family.
None of my children, and none of my grandchildren or great grandchildren remain living in the Bella Coola Valley; Bella Coola was a virtual one industry community almost totally dependent on a rapidly diminishing forest resource.
As this forest resource diminished greater numbers of the community had to travel further and further afield to provide for the needs and wants of their family. Bella Coola, much like Nemiah, is an extraordinarily beautiful place, rushing waters, a land of natural resources, striking snow covered mountains, simply a year round paradise.
Tourists that make the journey by vehicle, plane or ferry swear Bella Coola is one of the most beautiful places they have seen.
As leaders of Nemiah have told me that they wish to develop tourism as a foundation of their economic development plans, the Bella Coola Valley is also a rich and resourceful tourist destination. However as we can see here in the greater community of Williams Lake, tourism is only one small slice of Williams Lake’s economic pie, to attract tourists to an area requires more than being located at some important juncture, such as Horsefly, Barkerville, Likely or Soda Creek, it takes having a very aggressive and expensive marketing plan, couple that with years and years of waiting for the tourist fish to bite.
When I asked Marilyn Baptiste, then Nemiah Band chief, how the band was doing in keeping their children from leaving, I did not get an answer.
As I look at my own Bella Coola born family, I know the answer, children leave when there is no employment to keep them there.