I can hardly believe it has been almost a year since I first returned to Smithers. I find that as I get older, the days seem to last longer, but the months and years seem to go by much faster.
Perhaps it is because I don’t look forward so much. In trying to be “in the moment” — because in the end, it’s all we ever really have — I’m less conscious of the time just slipping away.
Aging also seems to be making me second-guess myself a lot more. You would think all the learning and experience would make you wiser and more confident, but the more I know, it seems, the less I really know.
Second-guessing, I think, is very important for a journalist. We would not be human if we did not have biases. I try, in everything I do and to the best of my ability, to examine as many angles as possible to try to keep inherent biases from creeping into my work.
Despite all that second-guessing, mistakes are inevitable. And over the course of 2019, I made some doozies.
But aside from outright mistakes, there are also oversights.
Prior to the publication of the Jan. 1 edition of The Interior News, I had a message from a reader saying they hoped Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls would be one of our top stories of 2019.
It was not, but it got me second guessing whether it should have been.
Certainly, it was a huge story nationally with the June 3 release of Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
The inquiry concluded that “persistent and deliberate human and Indigenous rights violations and abuses are the root cause behind Canada’s staggering rates of violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people.”
A supplementary report titled A Legal Analysis of Genocide concluded: “Canada’s past and current colonial policies, actions and inactions towards Indigenous Peoples is genocide.”
That, of course, was huge news, but was it huge local news?
Read more from Barking at the Big Dog:
Of course, the answer is yes and no.
We didn’t really cover that story locally, at least not in print.
Nevertheless, Hwy 16 has been dubbed “The Highway of Tears” because of all the women and girls who have been murdered and gone missing along its route.
And Northwest B.C. has one of the highest percentages of Indigenous people of any region in the country.
MMIWG is perennially a big issue locally.
And we did cover a couple of related stories last year. On June 1, just two days before the MMIWG inquiry report came out, family, friends and supporters of Jessica Patrick gathered to place a memorial near the spot at Hudson Bay Lookout where her body was found in September 2018.
Also in June, people marched from Lake Kathlyn School to Yelich road where Ramona Wilson’s body was found 25 years ago.
On Sept. 15, the first anniversary of Patrick’s death, people marched through the streets of Smithers to the Smithers Cemetery to pay their respects at Patrick’s grave.
When I originally got the aforementioned message, my initial response was defensive, but in re-examining the year in review, I have to admit we got it wrong. If not one of our biggest news stories, MMIWG certainly should have ranked among our top community stories of the year.