The phone started ringing within a few hours after the CBC report on the Hazeltons aired last week and while I did not catch it live, I knew from the note of dissatisfaction in some that I better go online and watch it.
It seems CBC videojournalist Saša Petricic is traveling across the country to find out if “Canadians are better off since their last federal campaign” and his first stop was the Hazeltons. After watching the four minute segment I was left feeling a little torn. I know we have our struggles in this area and that is no secret. I know we have one of the highest unemployment rates in Canada and many other issues that the media tends to focus on from time to time.
Yet, I also know we have a lot of great things here and amazing people as well.
Unfortunately, any journalist can use video and information to paint the picture they desire. In this particular piece they showed boarded up houses, the old Kispiox Forest Products mill blowing in the desolate wind and businesses that have shut down in order to portray a bleak situation.
They interviewed a courageous mom and talked about her struggles to survive and that is indeed a reality for many here. It’s no lie, times are still hard in the area and the loss of the logging industry and the mills played a major role in the economic demise of our beautiful communities. They also asked a resident if the upcoming election meant anything to the area and her candid answer, “No” is very much the truth as far as I can see. No, I do not think a new prime minister can fix the major issues of our area. But we, the people can and are.
It is true, many of us need to work several jobs to makes ends meet and hundreds of others were forced to leave a place they love to find steady incomes. Yet, the people that are still here are a great and diverse group. Despite our economic hardships, new faces continue to arrive in town and there aren’t as many for sale signs as there were four or five years ago.
Our struggles with education are ongoing yet improving. New businesses are starting up and succeeding. People are getting more involved in several aspects of life here in the north including, our communities, our schools and creating new programs, clubs and organizations.
Basically, my point is this; yes we have hardships and struggle more than many other places in Canada especially in an economic sense. Yet, we have a phenomenal number of amazing people with a strong sense of community. We have a beautiful area that is bubbling with potential and we are looking ahead to find ways to make the Hazelton’s an economically viable place to live once again. For many who live here, the Hazeltons are worth fighting for.
If CBC or any other news group asked me to make a documentary on the area, I would focus on the amazing determination, incredible creativity, community oriented people that live here. I would tell the world that while we have our struggles, we have tons of successes.
And while others are sitting back waiting for the next leader of Canada to make a difference, the people of the Hazeltons are getting up, taking charge of their own destiny and making our “poor corner of BC” a better place to live.
Shannon Hurst is the Three Rivers correspondent and writes the weekly My Town column.