April 28th at around 12:00 noon, a crowd of people gathered together to show strength against the drugs and violence that is sweeping through our communities!
As the rain poured down relentlessly, they all stood to listen from the families of the missing and murdered! Looking for answers as to why and where!?
Hereditary Chief Robert Charlie, Chief in Burns Lake for 22 years, who spoke in support for all First Nations in our area as well as Saikuz Nation Chief Jackie Thomas who agreed, there must be change!
The Mayor spoke of change, a letter from Dick Harris also spoke of change to the judicial system! We heard from Doug Leslie, Father of the murdered, Loren Leslie, heart wrenching pleas from the sister and Mother of the murdered, Fribjon Bjornson, Amanda and Eileen Bjornson!!
The family of the missing P. J. Sebastian drove to Vanderhoof in support and searching for any answers to their missing son, father, brother, cousin!!! Also the Uncle of Chassidy Charlie from the Cheslatta Reserve, also brutally murdered, looking for justice for his niece!
We stood together and heard from Amir Javid, motivational ex gang member who had us all hold hands, arm in arm, to show support to those families and said that this was a start for the communities to stand together and begin to look out for one another! Fallfires Burn played for us all while the sky’s kept pouring down! Songs written in support against drugs and violence and a few cover songs to entertain the now drenched crowd!!
It is very hard to describe the feeling of togetherness that was felt that afternoon as we walked proudly down Highway 16 and through the main core of Vanderhoof. William Plasway, an honored drummer who drummed for the Olympics in Vancouver, lead the way with fellow drummers, singing and drumming through town!
There is no doubt that these communities have one thing in common, Fort St. James, Burns Lake, Cheslatta, Fraser Lake and Vanderhoof, we all want change, we need answers and we will stand together, no matter what the weather, to achieve just that! As Amir Javid said, the rain was a cleansing!!
There are some people that need to be thanked because without their help and assistance this event could not have happened! First and foremost, Tina and Jim James for all their hard work making signs, hanging posters and arranging to bring Fallfires Burns to perform! The Mayor, District of Vanderhoof and the works department for the portable stage, town road closures and funding, BIF Contracting, Irene Fuller and crew for the highway closure and traffic control! Thank you to Kevin Moutray and Jason Harasti for the wonderful job they did with the sound system!! Vanderhoof Search and Rescue for parking assistance and security, The Vanderhoof Department store for the full front window display, the Wolf Radio and of course the Omineca Express!! And I can’t forget all the Facebook friends that kept reposting, sharing and inviting!!
And a big Thank you to the people from surrounding communities that braved the cold damp weather to attend!! You made us stronger and we shall stand together in our fight against drugs and violence! If I have forgotten anyone, my apologies!