A MAN well-known in his community and for standing up for Gitxsan treaty rights was killed in an industrial accident this week.
Arthur Loring, 56, from Gitwangak, died when a tree struck him while he was falling trees 60km up the Copper Forest Service Road east of Terrace Jan. 30.
“I knew the family for a long time and probably knew him when he was a kid,” said Hazelton mayor Alice Maitland of Loring.
“He grew up to be a kind of amazing guy. I think he’ll be hugely missed for sure.”
Loring was a chief in the Gitxsan Eagle clan, carrying the name of Gu Tsagan.
Loring and his wife always had their home open to youths who needed a home and he established a youth group in Dorreen, Maitland said.
The youth group learned about building longhouses, smokehouses, survival off the land and respect for each other, she added.
“Some of those kids I knew and taught in high school and he changed their lives and gave them a new direction and a lot of them are still around,” said Maitland.
He talked about the value of the territory, the right of the first nations and spoke once at UBC about forest management and honouring the future and leaving a heritage for your children, she added.
“I really, really, really, really couldn’t believe it when I heard,” said Maitland about Loring’s death.
Loring was well-known and invited to speak a lot and people really valued his knowledge of the land and of forestry, she said.
Loring and other young Gitxsan as well as Wet’suwet’en leaders gained recognition in the late 1980s and early 1990s when they joined forces to pursue claims to more than 22,000 square miles of land in the Hazelton area.
Their actions were chronicled in Blockade: It’s About the Land and Who Controls It, a 1993 documentary from director and producer Nettie Wild of Vancouver.
Hazelton resident Randy Shoop knew Loring for more than 50 years and said he became a faller like his dad.
“That was the industry if you were going to work,” said Shoop of forestry.
Loring was married with four children and nine grandchildren, said Shoop.
When it came to land and keeping things for first nations, he was hardcore, said Shoop.
At the time of his death, Loring was working for Long Shot Holdings, a logging contractor based in Terrace.
Loring was working with his son the day of the accident and it was his son who found him with his snowshoes sticking out of the snow and a tree back across them, said Shoop.
Initial reports are that the wind blew a tree back on him.
Authorities are continuing the investigation into Loring’s death.
A funeral service is taking place Monday, Feb. 6.