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UPDATE: Prince Rupert students help restore North Pacific Cannery
Students from Pacific Coast School spent two days last week working to improve North Pacific Cannery as part of an innovative program that aims to bridge the gap between youth and RCMP.
The Trek program is a partnership between the Prince Rupert School District and the RCMP that takes students out of the classroom for activities with Const. Matt Ericson and other members. In the past these outings have ranged from skiing and fishing to kayaking and boat rides. The kick-off for this year's program had the students participate in the major restoration project underway at the cannery.
"They are focusing on a term called stewardship – helping, giving back to the community and caring – so this really fits well with the theme of stewardship ... they've been doing gardening, scraping, painting buildings, cleaning bunkhouses, washing windows, cleaning rugs, building and sawing and generally sprucing it up," explained Pacific Coast School principal Susan Kobza.
"For our Trek program, it is a time to connect and to build teamwork."
Ericson said programs like the Trek program in Prince Rupert are key to the detachment's community outreach program.
"Working with youth is something that is of utmost importance to the RCMP and it is one of our strategic priorities nationally. Our focus is to bridge those gaps and make those connections with young people, because they are our future. We want to do everything we can to help develop them to become successful in the communities that they are from and to not be affected by some of the stereotypes around law enforcement," he said.
"It is to help them understand that, at the end of the day, we are just like them. There is no difference between law enforcement and the public. We are people too."
Response to the weekly outings involved with the program and the restoration at North Pacific Cannery from participating students has been largely positive.
"I enjoy it because it is helping out with things ... Pacific Coast School is a pretty amazing school because of the Trek program and the opportunities we get are pretty amazing," said Zack Yeomans.
"It makes our school fun and original," added Robyn Stevens.
Ed Day with North Pacific Cannery said the work done by the students over the two days was greatly appreciated in light of the current condition of some buildings on the site.
"In this case right now we have been working on some triplex units where we have been scraping and painting because the paint is pretty much gone and the plywood siding saturates, the moisture goes through and rots out the framing. The sooner we can get these things sealed up, the better chance we have of keeping these things original with a lot less of a major reconstruction job required," he said.