Tyler McCreary at the B.C. Historical Federation gala in Vancouver where he won the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Historical Writing June 8. (Facebook photo)

Top Community and A&E Stories for 2019

Countdown from 5-1

5. March 20 – Anglicans deconsecrate Telkwa Church

The Anglican Diocese of Caledonia deconsecrated St. Stephen’s Anglican Church in Telkwa earlier this year.

In a service March 12, the Rt. Rev. David Lehmann, Bishop of Caledonia, officially made the building secular, although it has been owned by the Telkwa Museum Society since 1997 and the last regular Anglican service there was held 12 years before that.

In his official remarks, the bishop acknowledged the passing of an era.

“To many of you this building has been hallowed by cherished memories, and we know that some will suffer a sense of loss,” he said. “We pray that they will be comforted by the knowledge that the presence of God is not tied to any place or building and that Zion Lutheran Congregation will continue to worship here.”

Doug Boersema, president of the museum society, said they do not have any specific, imminent plans for the site, but that the deconsecration is an important milestone.

“For us, it’s much better because now we can use the building for any purpose we like,” he said. “Also, it makes it more sense for us to invest lots of money into it, if we have to spend thousands of dollars if we have to repair a roof.”

Prior to the deconsecration, the society had a number of conditions attached to the ownership, which included only certain types of Christian services being allowed and a requirement that if the museum wanted to sell it, they had to give the Anglican Church first option of buying it back at the original selling price.

Despite the event and a general trend of declining religious participation based on recent census results, the bishop said he sees an upswing in northwest B.C.

4. May 29 – Pride and acceptance growing in Smithers

The Second Annual Smithers Pride celebration attracted hundreds on May 25.

The Interior News estimated approximately 450 people participated, double last year’s inaugural event.

“The turnout is really heartwarming,” said Frederick Lawal, a member of the Pride committee.

Perry Rath, another of the organizers of the event, said it is not only an indication of growing comfort of people expressing their gender and sexual identities, but a testament to an increasing overall inclusiveness in the town.

3. June 19 – Smithers doctor receives lifetime achievement award

Dr. Daphne Hart is the recipient of this year’s Excellence in Rural Medicine: Lifetime Achievement award presented by the Rural Coordination Centre of BC.

Hart received the award along with three other physicians from rural B.C. communities.

Hart provided medical care to the people of the Bulkley Valley for 38 years.

She began with her own family practice in town, eventually moving towards HIV primary care and oncology.

When asked about what drew her to these areas, which very often deal with people in terminal situations, she said she sees them as patients who require care and kindness just like anyone else.

“[They’re] just people with a very big need.”

Towards the end of her career Hart was responsible, along with a colleague in Prince George, for developing Northern Health’s Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) program.

She said she remembers the moment she heard the news that the Supreme Court had overturned a previous ruling and Criminal Code provision denying Canadian adults who are “mentally competent and suffering intolerably and enduringly” the right to physician-assisted suicide.

2. Nov 12 – New dinosaur species discovered near Smithers

A Victoria paleontologist’s more than 10 years of research have paid off with the historic discovery of an entirely new species of dinosaur and the first dinosaur species unique to the province.

“Buster” was discovered in 1971 near Sustut River in northern B.C. when a geologist noticed a “mysterious claw” among the rocks near the railroad. It was one of the first dinosaurs skeletons discovered in B.C., but it would be nearly five decades before it had a name.

At the Royal BC Museum, curator of paleontology Victoria Arbour’s research identified the dinosaur as an entirely new species, the ‘Ferrisaurus sustutensis,’ meaning “the iron lizard from the Sustut River.” Arbour prefers to call her discovery “Buster.”

The Ferrisaurus is a new species in a rare family of dinosaurs called ‘Leptoceratopsidae,’ described by the museum as “hornless, parrot-beaked plant-eaters closely related to the Triceratops.” At about 1.75 metres long and weighing around 330 lbs., the dinosaur was similar in size to a bighorn sheep.

“Luck may have played a role in discovering this specimen, but it was only through thorough research that the world now recognizes this as a new species,” says a statement from Prof. Jack Lohman, CEO of the Royal BC Museum. “This spectacular news is yet another example of how the Royal BC Museum advances knowledge of the natural world through hard work in the collections and the field.”

In November, Arbour and co-author David Evans of the Royal Ontario Museum published the discovery in the the peer-reviewed scientific journal PeerJ – the Journal of Life and Environmental Sciences. Buster’s bones and other fossils from the same region helped the paleontologist learn about B.C. 67 million years ago, when dinosaurs walked the province’s rugged landscape. Two years ago, Arbour led an expedition to Sustut River, searching near the Sustut basin to find the site where Buster’s claw was discovered nearly 50 years earlier.

The expedition turned up new fossils including plants and part of a turtle, all of which have joined Buster as part of the Royal BC Museum’s collection.

1. June 12 – Shared Histories author wins historical writing award

Tyler McCreary is the 2019 recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Historical Writing.

McCreary, who was short-listed for the honour in May for his book Shared Histories: Witsuwit’en-Settler Relations in Smithers, British Columbia, 1913-1973, received the award at the B.C. Historical Federation gala June 8 in Courtenay. He told The Interior News that it felt great to be recognized, but more importantly, felt like it provided an opportunity to promote reconciliation.

“I hope this will help bring a broader audience to the book and for more people to be able to read and hear the stories of the Wet’suwet’en families in Smithers, the experiences they faced, the endurance and persistence of those families trying to make a space for themselves in town and begin to relate those experiences to other experiences of Indigenous folks in communities across British Columbia and, indeed, across Canada.

“I hope that there’s a way that those stories told in a local and personal context can help people in a variety of communities be able to understand the relationships between Indigenous peoples and other Canadians.”

McCreary grew up in Smithers and is now a researcher and assistant professor at Florida State University.

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