Category Archives: News & Events

Dragon boat team narrowly escapes harm as car crashes into water in Port Moody

 

On Monday, May 16th, like any other training day for the Nothin Dragon, dragon boat team, before heading out on the water we were doing our warmups and stretches on the grassy picnic area to the left (west) of the boat ramp at Rocky Point Park.

Our coach, Erica was just coming in from leading the high school team she coaches and was walking down the wharf.  We heard a car engine rev, and then accelerate, causing us to look up and within the blink of an eye, a red Toyota came pummeling through the boat parking area  heading directly at our team warming up on the grass.  The Nothin Dragon Masters is made up of men and women, 50 years plus, with some of the team in their early 80s.  Several members were in the direct line of acceleration. Screams were heard and split-second decisions were made, as to which way to run to avoid being hit.

The car jumped the cement curb with increased speed heading straight through us  toward the water.  The car then made contact with a cement-secured park bench  (still holding the paddles of team members). The bench and the car then went airborne over the rock embankment and landed in the water on rocks since the tide was on its way out, finally standing still, in water only up to the front wheel-well.

This is from the vantage point of where the car drove toward the water. People in this scene were looking down at the Toyota, but this is the direct path she took when she drove through our training warmup. Photo: Robbin Whachell
This is from the vantage point of where the car drove toward the water. People in this scene were looking down at the Toyota (you can see the break in the mesh orange fence), but this is the direct path she took when she drove through our training warmup. Photo: Robbin Whachell

Coach Erica was walking her students through the gazebo, just east of the scene and saw it all take place. She ran to the car along with my teammate Charlie and she opened the passenger door. We heard the engine rev, shocked that the car was still running, and the driver still wanted the car to move.

Erica managed to get the  motor turned off. The driver was conscious, but delirious it seemed.  Several calls were made to 911 by onlookers,  and an open line to BC Ambulance was maintained until they arrived  on the scene.

Erica and Charlie stayed with the driver until the paramedics arrived. She told us later that the female driver said she was tired, and wanted to get home. She had tried several times to reengage the car to leave.

After the authorities arrived and were in control, and with all of us still very much in shock, our team gathered in a circle near the gazebo to take a moment to internalize what had just happened and to give thanks that no one was injured (save the driver).

Port Moody police officers approached us and took statements from team members. Some of our team who had arrived late, had seen the woman driving down the grass bank beside the Old Mill Boathouse just moments before the incident. The fact that no people were hurt or other vehicles damaged before she made that final leap, was a miracle.

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View from the gazebo at Rocky Point Park looking to the red Toyota that was driven through our training session, through a park bench and over the rocks. It was driven by an Asian woman approximately in her 50s (Photo: Robbin Whachell)

Our coach suggested it might be good for us to continue with our practice (for those that wanted) to shake off the experience.

On our way to the dragon boat we watched as the first-responders helped the woman from her car, and covered her with a blanket. I was surprised she was able to walk over the rocks to a stretcher. She seemed completely dazed however.

We took our seats in the Dragonfly and Firefly, utterly grateful that no one was hurt, and headed out onto the water, a little numb, until the strokes put our bodies and minds in unison.

Upon returning to shore , we were surprised to see emergency vehicles were still there. The red Toyota was hoisted out of the water by a tow truck, and we returned to the comfort of our homes and families…

(Note: Much of this account was written by, or adapted from the words of our club’s president, Brian. No point rewriting what he articulated quite accurately.)

For more photos see the team’s Facebook page HERE.

Trudeau statement on Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

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“The Indian residential school system, one of the darkest chapters in Canadian history, has had a profoundly lasting and damaging impact on Indigenous culture, heritage, and language. As a father and a former teacher, I am overwhelmingly moved by these events,” said Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau on December 15th upon the release of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“Seven years ago the Government of Canada apologized for this abhorrent system. The apology is no less true, and no less timely, today. The Government of Canada ‘sincerely apologizes and asks forgiveness of the Aboriginal peoples of this country for failing them so profoundly’.

“Today, on behalf of the Government of Canada, I have the honour of accepting the Commission’s Final Report. It is my deepest hope that this report and its findings will help heal some of the pain caused by the Indian residential school system and begin to restore the trust lost so long ago.

“To the former Indian residential school students who came forward and shared your painful stories, I say: thank you for your extraordinary bravery and for your willingness to help Canadians understand what happened to you. As the previous government expressed so eloquently in its formal apology: your courage ‘is a testament to [your] resilience as individuals and to the strength of [your] cultures…The burden of this experience has been on your shoulders for far too long. The burden is properly ours as a government, and as a country’.

“Moving forward, one of our goals is to help lift this burden from your shoulders, from those of your families, and from your communities. It is to accept fully our responsibilities – and our failings – as a government and as a nation.

“This is a time of real and positive change. We know what is needed is a total renewal of the relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples. We have a plan to move towards a nation-to-nation relationship based on recognition, rights, respect, cooperation and partnership, and we are already making it happen.

“A national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls is now underway. Ministers are meeting with survivors, families, and loved ones to seek their input on how best to move forward. We have also reiterated our commitments to make significant investments in First Nations education, and to lift the two per cent cap on funding for First Nations programs.

“And we will, in partnership with Indigenous communities, the provinces, territories, and other vital partners, fully implement the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, starting with the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“We recognize that true reconciliation goes beyond the scope of the Commission’s recommendations. I am therefore announcing that we will work with leaders of First Nations, Métis Nation, Inuit, provinces and territories, parties to the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, and other key partners, to design a national engagement strategy for developing and implementing a national reconciliation framework, informed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations.

“The Government of Canada is committed to walking a path of partnership and friendship with Indigenous peoples. Today’s Final Report marks a true milestone on that journey. Again I thank the survivors, their families, and communities for this monumental achievement towards healing and reconciliation. I also thank Commission Chair Justice Murray Sinclair, and Commissioners Chief Wilton Littlechild and Dr. Marie Wilson who worked tirelessly to bring to light the truth about residential schools in Canada.”

December 15, 2015
Ottawa, Ontario

I paddled the Fraser River from Fort Langley to Coquitlam for FraserFEST!

Once I had a vision:  I was a young native man, and I was walking down the mountainside to  the water. I could see my canoe down at the shore.  As I walked down the bank I noticed a bear in the distance. I placed my canoe on the water, got in and took my paddle. A wind came up suddenly and the skies darkened. The water turned choppy and I felt the rain spray across my face. I became afraid. So afraid, that I thought I might die. I remembered the bear, and I found peace in my uneasiness. I began to focus on the shore across from me, and found my rhythm in paddling. I became one with the waves, and before I knew it, I was safe upon the shore across the inlet. As I stood solidly upon the river rock, I heard an eagle’s cry. I  looked up to see the clouds had opened, to blue sky…

I am new to canoeing, but I am registered to begin training with Nothin Dragon, a 50+ paddling team that trains in Port Moody, BC, close to where I live in Coquitlam.  Being a director of the Hoy-Scott Watershed Society and I manage their social media pages, I try to keep in touch with other like-minded community groups.

Last Friday, while winding up my work day, I received an email  from Rivershed Society of BC about FraserFEST, a 3-week event created to educate on the Fraser River’s history, culture, and the issues threatening its health. The mighty Fraser is the longest river in B.C.  The email advised that spots were still available on a 25 km canoe trip from Fort Langley to Coquitlam that coming Sunday.

I thought, how perfect it would be to get a taste of being out canoeing, before I start with the dragon boat team in October. Within minutes I had registered for the Sunday morning event (even though my mother was moving in on Saturday night), and later on Facebook saw that they still had openings available, likely due to the foreboding weather, so I tagged my eldest daughter and encouraged her to join me, which she did.

Our Voyageur Salute! FraserFEST paddlers on the Fraser River, en route to Colony Farm Regional Park Left to right: Fin Donnelly, Loryn Blower, Robbin Whachell, Jon Torrence, Samantha Lorber, Deb Taylor, Brenda Flynn, Michael M, Rob Lorber, Thom Giberson, Yuan Radies (Missing from photo, photographer and skipper, Doug Radies)
Paddles up for a Voyageur Salute! FraserFEST paddlers on the Fraser River about to leave Fort Langley. —— Left to right: Fin Donnelly, Loryn Blower, Robbin Whachell, Jon Torrence, Samantha Lorber, Deb Taylor, Brenda Flynn, Michael M, Rob Lorber, Thom Giberson, Yuan Radies (Missing from photo, photographer and skipper, Doug Radies)

“It is no coincidence communities and cities are built on large and healthy waterways tend to also have healthier financial foundations with more abundance of wealth and prosperity to go around.”

A solid number of intrepid cyclists and paddlers showed up on August 20th at Colony Farm Regional Park, which is located on Kwikwetlem First Nations territory at the Coquitlam River, and served as host site for the Coquitlam festival portion. The forecast called for rain, winds and possibly lightening, but we were all geared up as ‘west coast’ people know how to, and were ready for an adventure.

We  were treated to coffee and yummy Uprising Bakery goodies.  I was not aware this was the inaugural event, nor that cyclists would be joining us. They would be pedaling along a trail on the north shore of the Fraser as we made our way by water.

The group was welcomed by Kwikwetlem Band Council member, Ed Hall, and founder of the Rivershed Society of BC, Fin Donnelly, who is also an environmental activist, and local politician. Donnelly is well known for  swimming the 1,400 km length of the Fraser River twice, and was our excursion leader for the day.

I had heard Fin speak before, and I introduced him to my daughter,  asking him to tell her about his historic swim and the annual 20 day trip that he leads each summer providing young adults the amazing opportunity to travel down the Fraser River.

"Canadians are explorers..."
“Canadians are explorers…”

Later, bikes were loaded into a transport vehicle, and we boarded the school bus to Langley. Being new to canoeing, I was a bit nervous about the weather, which worsened as we crossed the Port Mann Bridge. After meeting a few people on the bus, I learned I was not alone with those feelings.

“FraserFEST’s goal is to increase watershed awareness of those who live, work and play in the Fraser River Basin, through river adventures and community festivals blending music, art, speakers, food and culture…”

In Langley we were greeted by Wendy Dadalt, Manager, Metro Vancouver Regional Parks. Bikes were offloaded, and cyclists mounted up and were on their way along the 25 km trail beside the Fraser.

The rest of us were traveling by canoe, and we were joined by Jay Lundy of Voyageur Adventures, who expressed that the canoe is a symbol of Canada’s culture. He spoke of the early years and spirit of Canada, and how we still rely on our waterways, to connect us, providing us food, energy, and enjoyment. “As Canadians, we are diverse and we are explorers,” said Jay.

It made me think of my Canadian-German grandfather, who was a Hudson’s Bay trapper. I wondered if he ever went by canoe when he would head out and lead trapping exhibitions in the 1940s. I bet he did.

My trapper grandfather Heintz married a Metis woman, and I noticed Jay Lundy wore a Metis sash on his hat.  Jay made sure we were educated  on the basic canoeing strokes, and showed us how to do a ‘voyageur salute’ with our red paddles, which was fun.

Amid a heavy rain, we got seated in the 34’ voyageur canoe which are built in Alberta. I sat up front behind Fin, and my daughter Loryn was behind me with Michael, a young member of the Kwikwetlem Nation, who has just moved up from the USA and was also new to canoeing. He was honoured to be with us and his people had given him a special Kwikwetlem paddle to use for the journey.

“A river is a river, always there, and yet the water flowing through it is never the same water and is never still. It’s always changing and is always on the move. And over time the river itself changes too.” – Aidan Chambers

Fraser River log boom (Photo: Robbin Whachell)
Fraser River log boom (Photo: Robbin Whachell)

From historic Fort Langley, with Fin leading as stroker, and Doug at the back as our steerperson, our 12 member group got underway! Our aim was to keep in unison, but it did become tricky at times, especially as arms tired. With Fin in front of me, and setting a pace that never waned, I did my darnedest to keep up with him, and I feel I did a pretty good job over the 4 hours.  There were moments when I’d get into the strokes, and my mind would wander, and then I’d snap back to reality, finding I’d lost the group’s rhythm. We were encouraged to take breaks when we were tired, or get water, take photos, etc. The large canoe felt extremely safe, and hardly tipped sideways, event when we were met with choppy waters.

On our journey we paddled past Barnston Island, under the Golden Ears Bridge and by Douglas Island to the mouth of the Coquitlam River. The weather changed many times, and we saw eagles and seals. When we stopped for lunch at a camping area, we watched a log boom pulled by 5 tugboats go by – a scene common to the Fraser.

The cyclists who were well ahead of us, waited for us to catch up at a dock along the trail, and it was so nice to see them.  They waved, cheered us on, and took photos as we saluted them with our paddles.

After 4 hours we were elated to finally turn in, and head up the Coquitlam River  into Kwikwetlem territory, where we were greeted by those we’d seen earlier in the day, as well as many newcomers.  We helped hoist the canoe from the water, and then formed a circle as we were officially welcomed back by Kwikwetlem Nation.  Each of us were given flags to carry into the festival area, where we enjoyed a hot meal of salmon lasagna from Pasta Polo.

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The inaugural FraserFEST at Colony Farms during a short reprieve in the weather (Photo: Doug Radies)

The sun came out over the festival grounds, as well as a rainbow,  and along with others, we enjoyed live music,  a variety of speakers, and educational community booths.  Words were offered by Founder, Rivershed Society of BC, Fin Donnelly, MP, New Westminster- Coquitlam & Port Moody; Selina Robinson, MLA Coquitlam-Maillardville; Mark Angelo, Founder, BC Rivers Day / World Rivers Day;  Bonita Zorillo, Coquitlam City Councillor; and Ed Hall, Kwikwetlem Band Council.

“Our early forbearers held many festivals to give thanks to the land and the rivers from whose bounty they thrived. The Fraser River is still one of the largest salmon producing rivers in the world. FraserFEST will culminate with World Rivers Day, the last Sunday in September. Participants are invited to come celebrate the watershed in which they live while enjoying local entertainment and food.” – Rivershed Society of B.C.

There are three more festivals planned this week, in New Westminster Quay on September 24th; in Vancouver at False Creek Fisherman’s Wharf on the 26th; and the final one in North Vancouver at Cates Park on Sept. 27th. FraserFEST will be held annually.

Listen as Fin Donnelly speaks about FraserFEST to our group that morning.

You will find more information about FraserFEST at: www.rivershed.com

SEE MORE PHOTOS on Facebook, or Google+

Looking forward to Coquitlam Crunch Challenge 2016

CC-Robbin-WhachellThe weather was perfect for the 6th installment of the Coquitlam Crunch ‘Diversity’ Challenge on September 12th as the 2015 edition took a shorter 4-hour format.  This year I stepped up my involvement by coming on as an assistant coordinator of the event. I helped with PR and social media, photography, etc. It’s a great event at one of my favourite places in Coquitlam. I was able to get in one lap myself, which I try and do at least 3 times a week on my own.

Approximately 200 people came out, and walked or ran the Coquitlam Crunch Trail to support local charities: the Coquitlam Foundation ‘Diversity’ Fund; SHARE food bank; and the Blanket BC Society.

“We are so grateful for how supportive the community and volunteers have been,” said event founder, Alex Bell. “People came forward, on their own accord to offer their support. There is no way we could have raised more than $16,000 since 2010 for the Community Diversity Fund without the support of individual donors, sponsors and volunteers. This fund is now a legacy for our community.” In 2015, the Coquitlam Diversity Fund generated its first grant of $500 to the Tri-Cities Brain Injury Support Group to help fund social interaction and community recreational opportunities for brain injury survivors. With donations still coming in, this year’s event has raised approximately $2500.

The Make it Or Break It category started at 8am, and has sparked a growing competitive spirit over the years. It had 30 registrants, (4 times that of last year) all vying to see how many times in 4 hours they could go up and down the Crunch Trail, which starts beside Scott Creek Middle School and finishes up at Eagle Mountain Drive, 2.2 km from bottom to top.

Over 100 people registered for the Recreational category which started formally at 10am. Refreshments and snacks were provided at the bottom and at the top, along with treats for the kids.  The Kangho Hapkido Martial Arts Academy were out in full force, and not only did they lead the warm up for the Recreational category, but they presented a $595 cheque toward the Diversity Fund.

“It’s been interesting to watch the growth of the Make it Or Break it category,” said event founder, Alex Bell. “This year we had an almost even male-female ratio and a few children came out, with the youngest being 10 years old. It was great to see a couple senior athletes also involved.”

Matt Sessions, who is the 12-hour event record-holder with 17 loops, won this year’s 4-hour Make it Or Break it challenge by completing 8 loops. He was followed closely behind by Ray Barrett. With the average loop ‘walking’ up and down the Crunch being around 1 hour, most of the Make it Or Break it  competitors completed 5 – 7 loops.  Winner, Matt Sessions clocked 24 minutes on his first loop. The new 4-hour format, most definitely added the speed component. Out of the women that participated, Jackie Senchyna was the top competitor with 6 laps, and out of the youth,   Gracie Lorenson completed 7 loops.

“The competitors are already giving us their feedback, and although 6 years ago, we started as a simple charity event, we note the dedication of the athletes, and like other competitions, we will have to step it up to include times, age groups, etc,” said Bell, who has already met with his team to review improvements for next year to include down-to-the-second timekeeping, as well as formal top overall male / female and age group recognitions.

Next year the event is slated for September 10, 2016, and organizers are looking to the corporate community for ideas, funding, and man-hours in order to make the event more efficiently and accurately run. Any persons or businesses who can offer help toward time-keeping, signage and printing, traffic control, event-day volunteers, and t-shirts, are asked to make contact.

“This year we had 20 volunteers that proved invaluable, and we were able to enhance the safety of the street crossings along the trail,” said Bell. “To grow again, we need even more hands on deck and we are looking for people or businesses who would like to be part of our 2016 organizing team.”

A prize was offered to the Make it Or Break it winner, as well as 5 draw prizes were given out provided by Maxfit Movement Institute which included fitness/running assessments and massages. CKPM FM provided 2 extra prizes.  “I’d like to thank all those who stepped in this year to make it one of our best events,” said Bell. “This event is taking on a life of its own. It has the potential to become a signature event of Coquitlam.”

The public is invited to provide feedback, and may do so by emailing coquitlamcrunch@gmail.com. You can also join the event email list at coquitlamcrunch.com.  Event photos have been posted to the event Facebook page.  The 2015 Coquitlam Crunch Challenge was proudly supported by 98.7 CKPM FM, Eagle Ridge GM, Maxfit Movement Institute, New Earth Marketing, Pasta  Polo, Vancity, Magenta Printing, Pack and Ship, City of Coquitlam, Coquitlam Foundation, Kangho Hapkido Martial Arts Academy, Northside Foursquare Church, and McDonald’s.

More information can be found at coquitlamcrunch.com

(Photos: Robbin Whachell)

 

Join me at the Coquitlam Crunch Challenge on Saturday, September 12th

I’ve been climbing the Coquitlam Crunch for over a year now, and I love it as my daily fitness regime when I can get there. I aim to do the Crunch at least 3 times a week, but some weeks I get there 4 or 5 times.  I’ve burned out one pair of runners, and I still love the Crunch!   I decided to help out with a charity event involving the trail last year,  “The Coquitlam Crunch Challenge,” and this year I am even more involved.  I hope you will join me at the 2015 event.

Here’s the official event press release:

The sixth annual Coquitlam Crunch ‘Diversity’ Challenge is set for Saturday, September 12th, 2015, and raises funds for community grants that promote diversity awareness, respect and integration. The Challenge is held at The Coquitlam Crunch trail, which follows a route along the B.C. Hydro cut line and offers a great workout, and unobstructed views of the surrounding area including Mount Baker, Washington. The Crunch is a less intense version of the Grouse Grind and the 2.2km trail starts below Lansdowne Drive and finishes at Eagle Mountain Drive. The average round trip (walking) takes about an hour. In early 2014 the City of Coquitlam helped make the trail safer by putting in the 437 new stairs along the steepest section.

The event was created in 2010 by local resident, Alex Bell and his family. Last year the event raised well over $4000 for the Community Diversity Fund (held and administered by the Coquitlam Foundation) which provides grants to Tri-Cities’ individuals, non-profit organizations, or community groups initiating actions, programs or education aimed at improving integration and participation by diversity groups, identified by the community as being socially or financially marginalized.

This year’s event will have a new shortened 4-hour format, versus last year’s 10 hours. “For those returning to the event, the news of the 4-hour format for 2015 may come as a surprise,”said event founder, Alex Bell.  “Due to circumstances beyond our control, we had two choices this year; either to postpone the event one-year, or to put out a shorter format with less categories.”

“We are preparing for a larger event in 2016 coinciding with Coquitlam 125th birthday, which will have at least 4 categories,” said Alex Bell. “We know people have been training for the 10-hour format, but our hands are tied. The 4-hour format is still a fitness challenge and adds more of a speed component.”

The Challenge on September 12th can be competitive or simply for fun. It’s a great family event, open to anyone of any athletic ability.  There are two ways you can participate:

1. The “Make it or Break” category for the die hard Crunchers. Participants walk or run the trail as many times as possible in a 4-hour period between 8am to 12 noon. Matt Sessions holds the 2012 (12-hour) record of 17 sets (which he repeated in 2014) when there was 12-hours allowed for this category. Register online or on the day at 7:30am.

2. The “Recreational” category for individuals or families who can walk the Crunch at least once. Start time is formally at 10am, but people may arrive and participate any time between 8:30am and 12 noon. Register online or on the day.

Water and sports drinks will be available free for participants. Preregistration is underway at coquitlamcrunch.com.

Optional donations for participants is suggested at $20 for adults, $10 for youth or $40 per family, however no donation of any amount will be refused, and participation is welcomed without the requirement of a donation. (Donations can also be made directly at coquitlamfoundation.com by clicking on the Donate Now button and selecting “Coquitlam Diversity Fund” from the drop-down menu.) A food box will be on site for the SHARE food bank, which tends to be very low at this time of the year, and participants are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item.

In 2015, the Coquitlam Diversity Fund generated its first grant to the Tri-Cities Brain Injury Support Group to help fund social interaction and community recreational opportunities for brain injury survivors.

Volunteers and sponsors make it happen! Sponsorship opportunities are always available and appreciated. Already supporting for 2015 is New Earth Marketing, Eagle Ridge GM, Pasta Polo, MaxFit Movement Institute, and 98.7 CKPM FM Tri-City Radio. Event organizers are looking for people to assist with site set up, registration, water stations, verification stations, parking, ensuring safe road crossings along the route, as well as the tear down of tents and tables. If you can help please email coquitlamcrunch@gmail.com

“Although I started the event, my intention was for it to become a community-driven one,” said Bell who has seen the event grow exponentially, and each year a variety of local businesses and volunteers have stepped up to offer their help.  “Please come out and support this worthwhile cause!”

Building up to the event, Alex Bell will lead a recreational guided hike up the Crunch and beyond to Ridge Park Bluffs on Sunday, August 30th. This 3-hour hike will start at the Coquitlam Crunch parking lot at 8:00 am and is for anyone capable of walking up the Crunch. The 8-km route will circle back to the parking lot and will offer amazing views over the lower mainland. All are welcome, and it is suggested to bring water and a camera. Queries about the hike, or the Challenge can be directed to coquitlamcrunch@gmail.com.

See you at the Crunch!

Creator of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge supports ALS BC event

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ONE AMAZING DAY! I have to think that life is taking care of itself, when things happen for me that seem to be divine providence.

I have had a friend named James for 30 years (in messy photo), and he is from BC, Canada, and lived in Bahamas with his wife during the time we also lived there, and now lives in the USA.

He grew up here so comes to visit his dad, and I am grateful as that is when we get to reconnect time and again.

The cool things is, when I told him my brother has ALS, he said, “wow, my best friend is part of the ALS Society of BC.” (!) AND they are both named James… best buds, so you have Jimbo 1 and Jimbo 2… as ‘they’ call each other affectionately.

When I met Jimbo 2 via Jimbo 1 a few weeks ago he told me about the upcoming anniversary event for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and asked me to join them.

My brother has had ALS for 6 years now, so of course I was going! On the day of the event in Steveston, Richmond, BC, Canada I was SHOCKED to see the creator of the ALS Challenge, Pat Quinn (who is from Yonkers, NY and is seen with me in the photo top right), was at the event! This is the man, who has ALS himself, and who changed the lives of MILLIONS of ALS sufferers and their families 1 year ago with this challenge that went viral. ALS is a sickness that very few knew about, but Pat Quinn, gave everyone a voice. It was ‘a MIRACLE’ as Pat said today to local news.

After the event which was captured by a drone video, I met and spoke with Pat Quinn. When I thanked him for coming and for creating the Challenge, I started to cry because this viral event changed my brother’s life, and mine.  When Pat spoke in front of the crowd, he said last year was a miracle. It sure was!

Today, I RECOMMITTED, and I will do this every year until there’s a cure for ALS! Please join us by donating and sharing the message.

Global News TV Coverage here: https://www.facebook.com/631000181/videos/vb.631000181/10155927744630182/?type=2&theater

AND if you want to view ALL my photos from today, click his link: http://tinyurl.com/q349y6w

ps. We used Rice Crispies today due to drought conditions, and were featured on Global BC News. The video, taken by a drone is below.

Here’s a clip of my 2014 ALS Challenge video, but look out for a new one coming soon. http://robbinwhachell.com/…/als-ice-bucket-challenge-retur…/

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Returns!

I am excited to hear about this anniversary event for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!

My brother has had ALS for over 6 years, and last year’s viral campaign made a huge difference to the lives of those suffering with ALS, bringing much awareness about what these individuals and their families are dealing with.

While I was devastated when I heard my brother was diagnosed, his progress over the years has strengthened my spirit, taught me to never give up ,  to value each day, and cherish our loved ones while they are alive.

The 2015 Academy-Award winning movie, The Theory of Everything, about the life of Stephen Hawking, was another great moment last year, as the film breaks a  lot of the stigma and boundaries imposed on persons with ALS. This film brought me even more hope for my brother.  It’s a new day for ALS, and a cure is achievable. If Hawking can still be living in his 70s after being diagnosed in his 20s,  then my brother has an excellent chance to also lead a long and productive life!

Here’s the press release from the ALS Society of BC:

While generous Canadians cooled themselves with buckets of ice and issued challenges to others, the lives of people living with ALS were dramatically changed unprecedented investments into ALS research and practical patient care.

It has been a year since the inception of the immensely popular ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The popularity of the viral campaign has brought the fight for a cure to the forefront of news and social media platforms across the globe.

As the largest media campaign in history, according to Facebook, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge resulted in over 17 million videos, generating more than 10 billion views. The money raised from last year’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is increasing the speed at which drugs are going to clinical trial and improving quality of life for those living with ALS.

Even with the tremendous success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, ALS is still not a treatable disease, yet. Every August Until A Cure.

Beginning August 6th of this year, the ALS Society of BC, in partnership with ALS Societies across Canada, will mark the anniversary of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Reporting back to the donors and participants of the 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on how the funds have been invested in Canada, as well as the need for additional support in finding a cure for ALS.

This year’s event will start yet another wave of support and awareness for this debilitating disease.

Join the ALS Society of BC, along with dignitaries and special guests, on Thursday, August 6th, at Garry Point Park, 12011 Seventh Avenue, in Richmond at 11:00AM as we celebrate and begin the second wave of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Co-founder of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Pat Quinn will be there, as will ALS researchers and the ALS Society of BC.

Due to drought conditions in British Columbia, and to conserve water, we encourage everyone to recycle their 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos by sending them to info@alsbc.ca. The ALS Society of BC will compile all videos to air at the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge celebration held at Garry Point Park on August 6th at 11:00AM.

To activate the second wave, we encourage everyone to come up with an innovative idea for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, minus the water. Don’t forget to bring your bucket, filled with ideas, on August 6th! Need some suggestions, people have already generated amazing ideas, including flower peddles, empty bucket, ice cream, and cold hard cash!

Visit our ALS Ice Bucket Challenge website for more information about the event and how you can help support people affected by ALS: www.alsicebucketchallenge.ca/british-columbia

All Nations Festival celebrates an inclusive Coast Salish Territory

 

Creating our shared heritage and vision for the future 

I was very interested when I found out that an All Nations Festival was to take place in Coquitlam where I live, and only blocks from my home. I immediately went to Facebook to learn more.  The 3-day-long event was said to celebrate Coast Salish culture, art, and language from July 23rd through 25th in Kwikwetlem, (Coquitlam) which is part of the Coast Salish Territories. It also was to include the other cultures living in the area.

After living abroad for many years I am new to much of the indigenous territories and culture, and I learned that  the Coast Salish Territory includes a lot of the  Georgia Basin and Puget, and this huge drainage basin comprises of the coastal mainland and Vancouver Island from Campbell River and the Georgia Strait south through the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Lower Fraser Valley, and the lowlands of Puget Sound. I’ve been volunteering with the Hoy -Scott Watershed Society in my area for the past year so all these land details are of great interest to me.

All-Nations-Festival
The event was hosted around beautiful Lafarge Lake in Coquitlem / Kwikwetlem (Photo: Robbin Whachell)

But back to my All Nations Festival experience… 2015 is the inaugural year, and the annual festival aims to celebrate a Coast Salish cultural resurgence by bringing together the performing and visual arts, music, food, sports and ideas honouring a shared future.

Hereditary Chief Phil Lane Jr. Ihanktonwan of the Dakota and Chickasaw Nation (who is a visitor to these lands and is seen in my feature image at the top) spoke about the Tsleil Waututh Nation “People of the Inlet” and how at one time there were 10,000 people in the area, before a series of small pox epidemics in the last century. He spoke about inclusion as he stood before the Persian group ready to perform at the event in front of artist Sonny Assu “Enjoy Coast Salish Territory” artwork. I captured a short clip of his remarks HERE.

The 3-day Festival program opened on Thursday July 23rd with the Kwikwetlem /kəˈlōkwēəm/ Colloquium hosted by Douglas College. I was unable to attend due to my work, but tuned in via livestream.   If you missed it, you can now watch the Colloquium here. The colloquium’s  aim was to share the work of professional Indigenous artists, academics and researchers in Coast Salish Territory through programming, education, outreach, and networking.  The discussions were very interesting.

George Leach put on an amazing show!
George Leach put on an amazing show at the Evergreen Cultural Centre (Photo: Robbin Whachell)

Thursday evening the entertainment kicked off with an intimate concert, which my daughter and I attended at Evergreen Cultural Centre,  with none other than the first aboriginal Lieutenant Governor of B.C., Steven Point, who performed a number of songs he’d written in his younger days. They were lighthearted and teleported us back to earlier days in Vancouver. Point opened for Juno award-winner George Leach,  a Stl’atl’imx and Kwikwetlem musician and actor.   We learned George is also a great-great grandson of Chief Kwekwetlem.  One concert goer said, “This may have been the best concert I have ever seen…I’ve got 5 words for George and his band’s performance: pure, smooth, honest, funny, and enjoyable…what an incredible voice and refreshing personality, some very heartfelt tributes were endearing as well!”

Friday the colloquium continued with a Coast Salish Leaders’ Roundtable on Shared Environmental Stewardship, and a keynote address was delivered by awarding-winning author, teacher and grandmother, Professor Lee Maracle, from the Sto:lo and Tsleil Waututh Nations.  Listen to her speak about her work and the festival on CBC radio HERE.  Each day the colloquium included plenary, breakout sessions, panel discussions, art exhibition, traditional foods, performances, and dialogue with leading Indigenous scholars, professional and community artists, and cultural leaders.

Just a few of the Colloquium speakers
Just a few of the Colloquium speakers. Left to right: Charlene Aleck, Lee Maracle and Ronnie Dean Harris.

Pulling our best thread forward from our past, and taking it into the future – Lee Maracle, author, activist on the focus of the event to CBC radio.

Friday featured an evening of ideas and spoken word from one of the foremost experts in Coast Salish history and culture. More entertainment was provided on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon and evening at the outdoor festival  held by Lafarge Lake at Town Centre Park which also included engaging talks, a salmon and bison burger barbecue, kids corner, crafts and displays. Aside from sharing dialogue,  the outdoor locations provided the general public loads of activity, sights and sounds on stages, under tents, and by displays, which attracted many Coquitlam residents that just happened to be out for  a walk.

The backdrop of Lafarge lake and the mountains made for a beautiful venue, even with the intermittent cloudy weather. A heron flew over and in the late afternoon the Canada geese, who had been grazing on the adjacent lawns took flight over the tents into the evening sky.

I enjoyed the ‘Idea Tent’ featuring speakers from the festival’s steering committee and special guests. It was refreshing to hear about moving forward as a people who care about each other and our land, without a political party agenda attached. Topics included First Nations rights, pipelines, racism, reconciliation and more. One common idea was echoed through the weekend however, that being, that the Harper Government had to be outed at the next election.

Salish-Territory
Photos courtesy of the All Nations Festival

What I was most impressed with was that the First Nation’s speakers never excluded themselves from others, but rather spoke about the connectedness of humanity, no matter our origins, or religious beliefs. They kept hitting home that we had to work together to protect our environment for our future generations, and really if we don’t have that, what are we left with?  The event also included a  green energy fair featuring electric cars, solar panels and more.

One of my favourite features was a beautiful art piece showcased in the food tent  (see below) called ‘Our Painted Responsibilities’ coordinated by artist, Melanie Schambach along with Nati Garcia and Jen Castro.  Like this woman seen in my photo, people stood in awe to take it all in, as it represents so much, and it also encapsulated the spirit of the event. You can learn about the artwork in this video HERE.

I was told that “this mobile mural was an extension to the 2014 Totem Pole Journey, where a 20-foot-long totem pole carved by Lummi Indian Master Carver Jewell James travelled with his family 6,000 miles along proposed fossil fuel export routes to honor, unite and empower communities in the destructive path of coal and oil exports.”

"From the Columbia River Basin west to the Salish Sea and back east to the Alberta tar sands, the mural offered a space to listen, witness, and express. Youth, elders, activists, students, educators, researchers, healers, artists, indigenous and non-indigenous people, migrants, and impacted communities reflected through paint on our day-to-day connection with mother earth, and our shared responsibilities to protect her." (Photo: Robbin Whachell)
“From the Columbia River Basin west to the Salish Sea and back east to the Alberta tar sands, the mural offered a space to listen, witness, and express. Youth, elders, activists, students, educators, researchers, healers, artists, indigenous and non-indigenous people, migrants, and impacted communities reflected through paint on our day-to-day connection with mother earth, and our shared responsibilities to protect her.” Coordinating artist, Melanie Schambach (Photo: Robbin Whachell)

The All Nation’s event offered a lot over the three days! On top of the engaging dialogue and visual arts displays there  were performances by Doug and the Slugs; Bill Henderson, rapper and activist Ronnie Dean Harris (Ostwelve),  DJs including DJ Hedspin, Hip hop artists, Persian dancers, the Vashaan Ensemble, and many others. Add in sports with skateboarding, basketball 3-on-3s, ball hockey, volleyball, and the Coast Salish Lacrosse Challenge.

I certainly look forward to next year!

Check out the video below to see some of what was featured. If you would like to obtain more information,  become involved by exhibiting, performing, sponsoring or volunteering, learn more at: http://www.allnationsfest.com/

The 2015 All Nations Festival was hosted by Douglas College and the Kwikwetlem and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.  It was produced by Coquitlam School District Aboriginal Education, Coast Salish Cultural Network, and Tsleil-Waututh Nation; and supported by Kwikwetlem First Nation, Douglas College, City of Coquitlam, with additional support from Vancouver Indigenous Media Arts Festival, and various program partners. Steering Committee: Lee Maracle, Charlene Aleck, Gabriel George, Ronnie Dean Harris, Cease Wyss, Brandon Gabriel, Rueben George. Irwin Oostindie (ex-officio member).

Funding was provided by Canada Council, City of Coquitlam, Telus, Vancity, Coquitlam School District #43 Aboriginal Education, Tsleil-Waututh Nation, and Aboriginal Sport BC, and community donations.

About the author: Robbin Whachell lives in Coquitlam, BC and is a volunteer for the local watershed society. In her spare time she likes to hike The Crunch and  explore her community by taking photos and sharing her thoughts on what she sees.

 

Pan Am Games follows First Nations protocol

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde, Regional Chief Day & other leadership at Three Fires Ceremony Pan Am Games  (Twitter Photo)
AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde, Regional Chief Day & other leadership at Three Fires Ceremony Pan Am Games (Twitter Photo)

“When visiting indigenous territory that isn’t your own, the protocol is to acknowledge whose territory you are on and thank them for allowing you there. If done properly, they welcome you in return,” explained an CBC News article on the opening of the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, Canada this week.

This year’s torch relay was received by Chief LaForme of Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto.

Using sacred tradition the Mississaugas of the New Credit held a Three Fires Ceremony on three sites that day to start the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, marking the fact that the 16 sites of the games are in its traditional lands that extend south to Long Point on Lake Erie, east to the Niagara River and River Rouge and west to the River Thames.

The three fire locations are: The Toronto Islands, the modern Mississaugas of the New Credit territory and Fort York.

The fires being symbolic of the Mississaugas traditional and political alliance with the Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi Nations, they will be kept burning until the end of the Pan Am Games.

July 10: This year’s torch relay was received by Chief LaForme of Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto. (Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation )
July 10: This year’s torch relay was received by Chief LaForme of Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto. (Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation )

Photo: Fire Smoke Taunts Firefighter in Coquitlam

A firefighter from Coquitlam, B.C. stands at the top of a ladder ready to douse out flames  at an apartment fire  on February 16th at 2915 Glenn Drive said to possibly have be ignited by an exploding barbecue on a deck.  Over a hundred people were left homeless from the fire, but no lives were lost.

In this image, it’s as if the smoke face is looking confidently at the firefighter.   I had not noticed the smoke-face until I posted it online. Friends on Facebook alerted me to it after.  It’s always amazing to see what a camera captures!

To me this image depicts ‘the fight’ that these brave men and women go through to put out fires and keep our communities safe.  This fire team worked from approximately 4pm in the afternoon until 2am the next morning. Bravo!

Local news coverage HERE.

After the fire...
After the fire…

(Photos and video: Robbin Whachell)