Aerial view of Vanderhoof. (Aman Parhar - Omineca Express)

Aerial view of Vanderhoof. (Aman Parhar - Omineca Express)

Saik’uz First Nation and District of Vanderhoof continue relationship building

It must be a relationship built on trust and friendship, says Mayor Gerry Thiessen

Like any newly-born relationship there can be growing pains, and for the Saik’uz First Nation and the District of Vanderhoof it is no different.

Since 2017 the Dakelh nation has been working with the small northern community it lies less than 15 kilometers south of.

“I think there’s plenty of opportunities for our communities to work together on issues especially during this time of pandemic and to find ways, find solutions in areas especially when our communities have both been hit by other issues in the past such as the mountain pine beetle and forest fires,” said Saik’uz First Nation Councillor Jasmine Thomas.

“We’re trying to find ways to address them together.”

Thomas said there has been long history of racism in Vanderhoof which Mayor Gerry Thiessen agreed.

“I think it has to be a relationship that’s built much deeper than just signing a memorandum of understandings or protocols,” Thiessen said.

Second World War hero and Saik’uz First Nation member Dominic “Dick” Patrick returned to Vanderhoof in 1946 with his military medal for bravery in tow to only experience countless acts of well-documented racism.

“Those are things that we’ve struggled with in our past, and the thing is we need to make sure that that never happens again by working together,” Thiessen said.

“I cannot change what happened to Dick Patrick, but I can change what I do as a person or what I believe.”

Read More: Mayor, historical society examine ways to mark Vanderhoof’s original cemetery

Read More: Saik’uz First Nation councillor to be showcased at B.C. Premier’s Awards

With Vanderhoof serving as the centre for Saik’uz First Nation members to obtain groceries and fuel, as well to attend appointments, Thomas said it is important that both communities remain supportive of each other and take the opportunity to grow and learn from one another.

In 2017 the two communites partnered up in offering a free community shuttle bus service.

“To have a relationship established with the municipality: it’s one step to that path of reconciliation with our community,” Thomas said, adding she hopes they can work together to ensure the safety of their communities during these unprecedented times.

As the pandemic further exposes the lack of resources within Indigenous communities and available funding, the Saik’uz First Nation has also experienced recent losses due to alcohol and drugs.

“It hurts both of our communities equally,” Thomas said.

“How we address the social pandemic will be a challenge and I think both of our communities are ready because the health of our people is always a reflection of the land.”

Thiessen has been Mayor for the District of Vanderhoof for 12 years, and said it will take a relationship built on trust and friendship in order to see true healing within the region.

“If I don’t understand what’s happening in my neighbouring community, if I don’t understand the thought process and they don’t understand me then when a crisis comes such as what we’re going through now with COVID then it’s too late to start to build relationships, so I’m very thankful.”


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
rebecca.dyok@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

First NationsVanderhoof

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID-19 exposure at The Key, weather shelter announced in Fort St. James

Northern Health made the public service announcement Dec. 1

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
52 positive COVID-19 cases now associated with LNG Canada site outbreak

Eight cases still active, 44 considered recovered

Pipe stringing work in Section 4. (Coastal GasLink photo/Lakes District News)
Pipe installation begins from south of Burns Lake to north of Vanderhoof

Coastal Gas Link’s November update indicates 528 additional workers

Vanderhoof Community Foundation logo.
Donate in your loved one’s name this Giving Tuesday: Vanderhoof Community Foundation

Today, Dec. 1 is celebrated as Giving Tuesday, a global movement for… Continue reading

Annerose Georgeson in the process of painting a mural at the Stuart Nechako Manor in July. While she was working on the mural, a nurse and a senior living at the Manor were enjoying the live painting. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Vanderhoof artist completes mural at the Manor

A Vanderhoof artist has finished her mural at a local long-term care… Continue reading

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

The Walking Curriculum gets students outside and connecting with nature. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
‘Walking Curriculum’ crafted by SFU professor surges in popularity

The outdoor curriculum encourages students to connect with the natural world

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak records 19 deaths, 147 cases

Tabor Home in Abbotsford has been battling outbreak since Nov. 4

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

Most Read