‹ Back  






February 2008
February 2008

Table of Contents

Family Matters
Historic Signing
Fire! Fire!
A diamond studded opportunity
Granite and marble inspire home makeover
Mutter, mutter…that pup must be trained soon
Fireplace in the Forest
Brothers raise $785 for Canuck Place
Faces of Education: Ahms Tah Ow is a welcoming school
Explore Powell River



Family Matters
Health, community, and praise
By Isabelle Southcott

Expect the unexpected.

Okay, that’s soooo obvious. Of course we do but when the unexpected happens are we prepared? Do we have a plan in place?

The unexpected happened to me not long ago and no, I did not have a plan in place.
One day, I felt fine. I was working away, exercising, caring for my children. The next, I was doubled over in pain in the emergency department of Powell River General Hospital.

I had no idea what was wrong. When the chest pain first happened late the night before I googled stroke on the Internet and ruled out that diagnosis. I never suspected I had gallstones. Heck, I knew as much about my gallbladder as I did a Formula One Race Car at the onset of this little adventure but by the end, I knew enough to know that they can be very, very painful.

The gall bladder had to go, it was full of stones. Not only that, there was a huge stone blocking the bile duct which was making my liver counts go wonky.

Once I wrapped my mind around surgery, I began to wonder what would happen to the kids and to the magazine during the Great Gallstone Adventure but I soon realized that I was not in control (and in fact never had been) and just had to let it go. What will be will be.

If you ever have to get sick, let it happen in Powell River. Let it happen in a community where everybody knows your name, where everyone cares about you, where you are connected, where you are more than just a number.

The first doctor I saw, Dr Lynskey, happens to be married to my own GP so the next day when I saw Dr Addison, she had already chatted about my case with her husband.

The next doctor I saw in emerg just happens to have a child in my son’s class and is an all around nice guy. Talk about Old Home Week!

Then there was the doctor who succinctly answered my question about gallstones and why they happen. “Fat, female and forty.” Ouch…Okay, I deserved that. They also run in families.
You’ve gotta love our surgeon, Dr Makarewicz, who never misses an opportunity to campaign to bring the CAT scanner to Powell River. “Now Isabelle,” he said with his deep, Polish voice, once he’d removed the offending organ that was causing me so much grief. “Now,” he said, as I lay doped up on great painkillers in a hospital bed. “Now will you do a story on why we need a CAT scanner in Powell River?” Talk about a captive audience! And yes, Dr Makarewicz, we will do the story in next month’s issue of the magazine. It’s the least I can do to say thank you.

The kind, caring, compassionate nursing staff at the hospital was a blessing. They, along with the beautiful flowers, cards, many visitors, phone calls and casseroles, helped get me back on my feet.

I toast the ladies I shared a room with; they all had stories of their own. Mary, Molly and Lola, I learned so much from all of you in such a short time. In the space of a few days our lives became connected.

Being sick is never fun but if I’m going to be sick, let it happen in Powell River. As my sister, who lives in Vancouver, pointed out, you’d spend at least four hours sitting in emerg in Vancouver just waiting to be seen. In all the times I’ve been to emerg, it’s never been more than a couple of hours and on average it is usually less than half an hour.

It was a challenging week to say the least. After visiting me in hospital, my mother and eight-year-old son were in a car accident. By the grace of God, neither was badly hurt.

These unexpected challenges taught me more than one lesson. Besides realizing that Powell River definitely has an amazing health care system, I have learned to slow down and enjoy the moment because I am where I need to be.



Historic Partnership
Public education outside the classroom

A groundbreaking partnership signed January 11 between Powell River School District 47, Klahoose First Nations, Plutonic Power Corporation and Kiewit and Sons Construction will provide trades and technical training, create a First Nations educational legacy fund and pave the way for exciting opportunities for First Nations people in their own territory.

Historic SigningThis joint venture will enable Klahoose First Nations to provide camp services for a 200-man plus camp at the head of Toba Inlet for three to five years while Plutonic Power’s run-of-river power project is being built by Kiewit. Powell River School District will use the camp at the Plutonic site as a training facility for their own students, Klahoose First Nations and Malaspina University-College’s culinary arts program students in a work and learn program. Students will receive trades and technical training with Kiewit and they will be supported by the school district at the Plutonic site.

“They’ll receive on the job training, a salary and classroom theory,” said Jay Yule, Powell River’s Superintendent of Schools. At the end of it, students will receive their “red seal” in trades training.

“The commitment we have in this joint venture with Klahoose is that any revenue generated from this project will form a First Nations Legacy Fund and that will sustain educational opportunities into the future for the Klahoose First Nations,” Yule added.

This project is the first Public Education/First Nations/Business Partnership that Yule knows of. It has been two years in the making.

Klahoose First Nations chief Ken Brown called the signing of this agreement historic. “Because of this power project we are becoming an economic powerhouse in our own territory. The project is not profit driven but it is economic development,” he said.

Donald McInnes, vice-chairman and CEO of Plutonic, is grateful that his company is part of a project that is so positive for Powell River. “Making money personally and having a successful business is one thing but to have the kind of outcomes that we are achieving through things like this joint venture make this an exciting project.”

“It’s a huge win-win and I’m proud that this could change the way technical education is delivered in the province,” he said pointing to the on site work/training experience students will receive.

Plutonic Power began construction on the 196-megawatt, $660 million Toba-Montrose run-of-river hydroelectric project in July 2007. They have also moved ahead on a sister project in the upper Toba Valley comprised of three smaller run-of-river facilities that will add an additional 120 megawatts of generation capacity to the green power corridor.

“Donald McInnes came to see us before this project started,” said Yule. “He wanted to know if there were any opportunities for trades students. I said with Plutonic’s support this could be a new model for education and training that combines and ties classroom and business to create real life experiences while in school. He seemed genuinely concerned in the educational opportunities for Powell River. In that way, Plutonic is a very different company and in that way Plutonic is a model for other companies.”

At the joint venture signing McInnes said Plutonic felt that their project could not be successful unless it was good for the whole community.

When properly located, run-of-river power is considered to be the most green renewable power source today. A run-of-river project generates electricity by diverting part of a river’s flow into a pipe which delivers the water downhill where it is put through a turbine and then back into the river system. As well, run-of-river projects produce zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Powell River’s School District 47 is currently offering career trades and technical programs in adventure tourism, automotive technician, carpentry, cosmetology, culinary arts, film production and welding.



Fire! Fire!
By Roché Rossouw

That’s what my two daughters screamed as I rounded the corner with my hands covering my ears. I don’t think I heard their voices as the smoke alarm tried to inflict more damage to my eardrums than cardio music in a 5:30 pm Boot Camp class, but I sure saw the arm flailing and the whites of their eyes.

Fire! Fire! I ran to the kitchen and I stared at the flaming microwave oven for a second before I realized what happened: I forgot to turn off the burner when the power went out earlier on that Sunday. I moved the rattan basket with all my power-outage emergency supplies onto the burner (lack of counter space) and by now everything was burning quite spectacularly. The cupboards were starting to burn when another thought hit me between the eyes: There was a full camping bottle of propane in that basket.

I yelled for the kids to get out of the house (I have never seen them obey that quickly before) and the next second the valve of the propane tank melted. The gas ignited immediately. I now had a burning kitchen with flames shooting up as well as the blowtorch effect of the propane tank igniting my cupboards horizontally five feet away.

I knew without a doubt that this house was not going to survive the night. I turned like a robot, opened the door behind me, ripped the fire extinguisher from the wall, ripped the red tab and pressed whatever needed to be pressed.

My husband was just outside the front door shutting down the generator when he heard the commotion inside and ran the 10 meters to the kitchen. He rounded the corner the second I finished the contents of the fire extinguisher on the flames.

From the second that the fire alarm sounded to the stunned second when the flames were out probably took a total of 10 seconds.

Fire! Fire!Many people asked me if I was crazy to laugh and pose in the photo that my daughter took just after the incident. To tell you the truth, I was elated; firstly, because my house was still standing and secondly because we were all alive.

The other “what ifs” came later. What if the power came on while we were sleeping or while we were not at home or what if we had no smoke alarm or no fire extinguisher?

Two days later I was watching the news when I saw two families crying on TV. Two houses were destroyed by fire because of an electrical cord overload. They actually saw how the fire started and how it spread, but I guess they had no fire extinguisher, because none was mentioned. They were lamenting the loss of their music equipment and electrical guitar. I wonder if they knew that a fire extinguisher only costs very little.

We were very lucky to have one and that it actually worked because it was quite old. I do have to admit my stupidity in putting a basket on a burner. I should know better. Also I was not the one who actually thought about buying the fire extinguisher in the first place. My husband came home with one about eight years ago when he realized that houses in Canada are all made of wood and might go up in flames quite easily. I really did not think we would ever need to use a fire extinguisher, but nobody ever does.

Also, storing propane gas in the house was not a smart thing to do.

However, I feel absolutely no guilt for forgetting to turn off the burner when the power went out. That is called getting older and that is part of life. I have accepted the fact that life will happen and that I will never be able to avoid all accidents.

I have retold our fire story many times. Every time I do, I ask the person I am talking to: “do you have a fire extinguisher?” And here are the answers:
• Yes. But I don’t actually know where it is.
• Yes, but I wonder if it is still working?
• Yes, but I think it is bolted to the wall. I wonder if I will be able to get if off in an emergency.
• No. But I think I should get one.
• Yes. But I wonder if I will be able to reach it when the stove is burning.
• No. I have never thought about having one.
• Not in the house—only in the boat.

One third of people I talked to have no fire extinguisher. Four out of every five people who die in fire-related deaths in America die in house fires.

You have 30 seconds to get out of a house when you wake up in the middle of the night in a burning house.

Get a good smoke alarm and get a few fire extinguishers, please.



A diamond studded opportunity
The story behind Osca Jewellers
By Linda Wegner

There’s a lot more to Powell River’s Osca Jewellers than diamonds, silver, and gold. There’s an intriguing change of career, a story-book business opportunity and two resettlements in previously unknown parts of the world. Central to them all was a Jewish trader and a Korean electrical engineer.

Yongsup Kim immigrated to Canada from Korea in 1972. Two years later, while pursuing his professional career with a railway maintenance company, he faced yet another major change in his life.

“I was at a party and there I met a Jewish fellow. He was [the owner of] one of the largest diamond importers in Canada,” he said.

Kim went on to explain that as the two discussed “general politics” his new acquaintance suddenly interjected a startling question.

“Mr Kim, are you interested in getting into the jewellery industry with us?’”

Taken aback Mr Kim replied that he didn’t know anything about jewellery or the industry. Undeterred, the gentleman went on to explain the reason for his inquiry.

“There is a large Asian community in Toronto and there is no jewellery store that caters specifically to them. I need someone to sell my products to the Asian people,” the to-be benefactor continued.

Kim says his response consisted of “smiling and assuring him it wouldn’t be possible because I didn’t know anything nor did I have the capital to start up such a business.”

Still undeterred, the conversation continued: “Mr Kim, you don’t have to worry about anything. I’m going to support you; you will do fine with me.”

That remarkable discussion resulted in six weeks of mentoring (all accomplished after he’d finished work each day as an engineer) and the eventual establishment of four jewellery stores in Toronto area.

“I got the money to open my first store and he filled it up with merchandise for me. I just had to report my sales activities to him every month,” he said.

After a successful career in the East, complete with 28 break and enters and two hold-ups at gunpoint, Kim and his wife, Hyejung, sold their businesses and moved to British Columbia. The couple operated a store in the Lyn Valley mall in North Vancouver until the end of 2003. He then retired…or at least, he tried to.

“I didn’t like being retired. Because I’d been in the jewellery business for thirty years I knew most of the people in the trade who had job connections. Most jobs were back East but a couple of colleagues, and one in particular, encouraged me to come to Powell River because there was no one here who could provide on-site service,” he said, then added, “I was assured that the people here would welcome me.”

After nearly a dozen trips to assess the prospects of living and setting up business here, the couple purchased a home in August 2006 and opened the store in November of the same year. Although Kim said he’d never heard of Powell River before, his fact-finding missions to the community had a profound effect on him.

“When I came I talked to people and found that they were ‘much humbler’ here than in the big city. I figured this was the place where I could do some work and still semi-retire along with providing service for the people,” he explained.

Relocate, they did; semi-retire, they did not, at least not in the beginning.

“It’s been very busy. For the first eight or nine months I was working until midnight every night doing repairs and custom work. Almost nothing goes out of town except for stone cutting and re-shaping. That is specialty work for lapidary experts and I don’t have the equipment for that,” he said.

Unable to keep up the pace, Kim said he has cut back a little on his work load but not his enthusiasm for being part of the community.

“We love being here,” he added. Obviously his customers are just as delighted as the couple is.

Osca Jewellers

What people are saying

In conversation with Powell River Living local resident, Drew Ferguson a recent customer at Osca Jewellers said: “I had Mr Kim rebuild my 1982 Indoor Soccer ring. He reconstructed it and it might be better than the original. His work was done quickly, professionally and immaculately. Not only that, both he and his wife are very nice and very professional.”



Granite and marble inspire home makeover
Powell River Custom Tile and Marble
By Devon Hanley

Who has not looked around their home and wished they could create an atmosphere that truly reflects their own personal tastes? How many hours have homeowners spent contemplating what changes could be made to bring their inspiration and imagination to life? Increasingly, more and more homeowners are choosing to do just that. With BC’s real estate market booming, renovating and upgrading is a financially sound choice that will increase the value of your house and create a living space that lifts your spirits and makes you feel truly ‘at home.’

Judy Demaine and Allen Cox were looking to achieve both these goals. Recently settled in Powell River, they moved into a lovely open layout, newer home situated amidst tall firs and cedars. This past December, they embarked upon a creative collaboration with Powell River Custom Tile & Marble’s founder and owner, Stephen Cantryn. Born and raised in Powell River, Cantryn apprenticed in Vancouver before returning to start the business in 1995.

“Working with clients such as Judy and Allen is inspiring,” says Cantryn. “They have a huge appreciation for the natural materials we are using in their home. It has truly been a collaborative effort, with their passion and enthusiasm inspiring each and every project in their home.”

Powell River Custom Tile and MarbleWhen taking on a home renovation project, Cantryn likes to discuss theme and consistency with clients. For example, the Cox/ Demaine home upgrade started in the kitchen with new tile and a handsome black granite countertop for the island. The kitchen floor was replaced with large, warm terracotta tiles. Cantryn explains in-floor electric heating is the only way to go. “It’s a fuel efficient way to heat your house, and creates a tremendous feeling of comfort with heat evenly distributed throughout the room.”

With function always top of mind, Cantryn extended one of the kitchen counters into a pass through, connecting it to a grand piano-shaped black granite and tile bar which Cox asked him to build for the family room.

Cox and Demaine describe the changes taking place in their home as a “Renaissance”. “Our business kept us travelling for years,” explains Demaine. “When we retired and settled in Powell River, we wanted a home that would really express our love of natural materials and our appreciation for art and design.”

Cantryn starts with only the best materials, travelling to meet with importers to hand pick granite slabs from Italy and Brazil. “I don’t buy in bulk; I go through every single piece of marble and granite and choose only the top quality pieces. I have had international visitors come through our showroom and marvel at our selection and our competitive pricing.” Cantryn also carries an extensive selection of ceramic and porcelain tiles, natural slate tiles, as well as the increasingly popular cork laminates, bamboo and engineered wood floors.

Cantryn explains that a good portion of his company’s business involves home renovations as many people now have the money and the time to finish their homes with quality materials. “We can replace an existing countertop in one to two days. This is the majority of the type of work we do.”

Although Powell River Custom Tile and Marble is well-known as a tile company, Cantryn quickly points out that is just part of what his company does. “We are more than a tile company,” he says. “We use the natural beauty of the materials and create architectural designs that complement and enhance a home.”

Granite and marble inspire home makeoverThe Cox/Demaine’s were so happy with their kitchen renovation that they extended it to include a gorgeous marble en-suite, granite counter tops in the laundry room and main bathroom, and an amber glass tile alcove in the living room featuring a stunning piece of African granite embedded with ancient sea creatures and shells. The family room features a solid piece of terracotta coloured granite carved into the shape of a Bordeaux wine glass which makes up a wall heat shield and hearth for the free standing fire place. The workmanship throughout is impeccable, with graceful marble floors and door jams, Italian tile juxtaposed with sparkling granite, seamless curving lines of marble and granite in earth tones that are warm, bold and soothing to the eye.

Whether a renovation is large or small, Cantryn encourages people to invest in quality products and quality work. “You are enhancing your home while increasing its value when you choose natural products such as marble and granite,” explains Cantryn. “And, a renovation which utilizes the beauty and elegance of well crafted, well designed natural products means your renovation will never date.”

Cantryn says there is nothing more rewarding for him than working with his clients to help them realize their dreams. “We bring the very finest materials, design and workmanship into the partnership. Our clients provide the inspiration and our reward is their satisfaction.”



Mutter, mutter…that pup must be trained soon
About the trials and tribulations of life with Alfy
By Liz Horsfield

By now, the new Christmas pup has outworn his or her welcome. Everything has been chewed from the new cushion covers to the kitchen moulding when you stayed out too late one night. As well, your spring bulbs have been completely uprooted and there are major excavations under the fence, which was built with a guarantee to contain any dog.

Housetraining has not been without some unprintable stories, but hopefully you are getting beyond that stage. Any peaceable pussycats you once had have turned into irate Halloween hussies and your husband’s new moccasins have been permanently mothballed until the dog has matured. Once friendly neighbours erect high fences and the dog decides who your house-guests are and how tolerant everyone really is when puppy’s antics do not amuse.

No doubt through all this you are learning about yourself. You are trying to be a strict disciplinarian or resorting to bribery, and becoming a goofy idiot crawling around on all fours to direct pup into his basket at night. Hopefully you are not whining and despairing of the pup’s approaching adolescence and have learned to praise anything resembling good behaviour most effusively. It is preferable the dog thinks his second name is “Good Dog” rather than “NO” or “That Dumb Dog.” Certainly you will need some mentoring about dog behaviour, training, and how to live with a cheerily cheeky pup.

Life with AlfyDog obedience school is a must and in Powell River that can be a real pleasure, not to mention relief. Ann Seale, at Dogwood Kennels has been training dogs for over 40 years. She’s a patient and long suffering lady who has seen it all and some. New to Powell River is Brenda Clarke of Doggie Be Good. Brenda offers a Canadian Kennel Club basic obedience program with a focus on training your puppy to be a good family pet. Playtime and socialization plus obedience training are available in group or private lesson format. Brenda, a certified trainer and graduate of the Canadian Institute of Professional Dog Trainers, has been training dogs and their owners since 1992.

Both these trainers know all about dogs. Ann is a slight, elderly soft-spoken woman who looks through you to assess how you are doing at turning your pup into a good canine citizen. Ann clearly loves dogs and they her. It is a real wonder to see huge gangly pups snap into good form with a few hand signals, treats and all those ever so hard to decipher and coordinate nudges, gestures and soft commands she is so expert at.

Ann subtly and smoothly has your dog wanting to please and eagerly anticipating a new request. Dogs like learning with Ann and she has high expectations which once mastered make a dog proud of who he is becoming. Mine sulked for days after we departed from his first lesson looking at me as if to say “Not your bumbling efforts again!” You cannot be impatient or get angry. You can’t blame the dog, he’s just being a dog. Dogs are our best friends and can be hurt if we are not careful or become insensitive to what they are trying to tell us.

Dogs need space, boundaries and routines as well as fun and games. They need consistency, praise and lots of positive reinforcement. Time to play, time to work at training, time to run free and time to be calm or just chew on an old bone times. Training sessions should be short, intensive and repeated. Walks can be the time the pup does homework. And the puppy must understand that leashes aren’t something to fight, devour, or pull against, they are made to keep dog and owner in constant communication and camaraderie. By your side is the dog’s safe place and cars are to be on the lookout for. They kill and maim.

Other people can be friends or they may be problematic. Puppies have to learn that not everyone loves them and their owners too must be sensitive to this. Jumping up and covering someone with slobbery kisses, gnaws and nips are not always taken as a sign of affection. Puppy’s toenails are sharp and their teeth can tear. Many people are just plain terrified of dogs. Others love to dance around the kitchen with them after you have been trying to teach the dog not to jump up. Dogs can have rather doggie smells and love to roll in the most disgusting of smelly unmentionables.

Your pup’s behaviour must be under your control or you can make yourself rather unpopular. Dogs need to respect humans and vice versa. It is a learning curve. The experienced dog owner can be a great help and will provide you with useful advice and many a dog story for conciliation. Few of us are experts. Your dog, in effect, must learn some manners and that becoming domesticated is not all bad.

Puppyhood can and does go well beyond a year. Not unlike children, puppies will test you and try to get away with all sorts of things It is one thing to cuddle a new pup in your lap on the floor and quite another to be charged by a seventy pound heffalump because he wants your favourite armchair too.

Remember that aside from all your pup’s bad habits, pranks, the unavoidable scrapes and power struggles you get into pup is still a JOY. Dogs are enthusiastic, loving, forgiving and loyal. Few humans rate as highly. Remind yourself that you are the proud owner of a good pooch in process when the puppy love stage morphs into that “ what will I do with this wild thing realization.”

If you begin to doubt yourself remember that good dogs are made, they are not born that way. Take heart, tomorrow training starts again and new levels of accomplishment will be possible.

Remember, a dog is a lifetime commitment but a good dog is worth it.



Fireplace in the forest
By Jimmy Dougan

This is a bit of an explanation to the accompanying poem, The loft of the lonesome logger, which follows.

Blast from the PastOne lazy evening in June of 1958, my Uncle Brick and I were having “seconds” of apple pie, over the remnants of one of my mother’s fabulous roast beef dinners at our old shack in Anderson Bay. We talked about the old days and some of the people who had lived and worked in our logging camp.

“I’m not kidding you,” Uncle Brick said, “Pete Mattin built a little fireplace way up there in the woods to keep warm by when he was “blowing whistles.”

Well, a story like that always did get a hold of me, so after taking careful instructions, I took off in my hot rod to ‘find’ it before dark. After some driving and a lengthy climb on foot, I was rewarded! There was the cutest little fireplace you could ever hope for, all made out of stones and growing quite a bit of moss. If you didn’t know the story behind it you would think that a small cabin had stood there once!

Well, about 45 years went by, and once again on the ‘south end,’ of Texada Island an older man was telling the fireplace story to a young boy at the supper table—myself this time, to my son, Charles. Charles was just as eager as I had been to see the fireplace, so one day we took a few hours out to see if we could locate it. Forty-five years brings amazing changes to the land. Flash floods occur and obliterate old landmarks; old giant firs die and crash to the earth and the trusting eyes of a young boy become the questioning eyes of an old man. Could I find it again? Perhaps the whole thing was a dream!

But the reward was ours. And it felt good to look at something that had stood the test of time. Despite the heavy pounding winter gales for 50 years; snowdrifts and forest fires and lightning strikes, there she stood, none the worse for wear. And off to the side was a neat wall made of stones, for shelter from the cruel, biting winter wind.

The whistle punk’s job was often a lonely one. Hours on end relaying signals to the donkey puncher. You could not move around to keep warm. You stood there—alert—and frozen to death. It happened to me a couple of times. I know.

Pete built the fireplace in the early fifties during a lower elevation winter logging show. How many others he built, I don’t know. But I think we’ll have to give him full marks for a great, innovative, never-say-die spirit, so typical of the loggin’ men of those times. Thank you, Pete.


The loft of the lonesome logger
By Jimmy Dougan

To the loft of the lonesome logger
I climbed one blustery day
The kind of a place where you fell on your face
To meditate and to pray

There built so neat by a logger named Pete
Was a stove of boulder and stone
In the wintry fog the loggers did log
But alas it’s all overgrown

It’s like the altar of God, it is
And a view of the Strait it commands
And you marvel over the fireplace
That Pete did build with his hands

For nary a drop of mortar was used
No hammer, no shovel, no trowel
But rocks did abound all over the ground
And the punishing gales did howl.

So I kindled a blaze for the bygone days
In the stove of boulder and stone
And the smoke and fire leaked out of the cracks
And alas, I wasn’t alone

For I saw their faces, clear as life
And I heard the cuss and the joke
Of the loggin’ men of my quick-gone youth
In the waft of the fireplace smoke.

And the legacy they left to me
Now filled my heart with tears
For all the spiritual hand-me-downs
And poetical souvenirs.

On bacon and eggs and sinuous legs
They logged the lofty crags
And the springboard notch in the rotted stump
And the ghostly bone-white snags…

Pay mute tribute to the hobnail boot
And the men on this gruelling climb
Who forced their nerve and sinew
To serve them one more time.

“And this is the last,  And this is the last”
But always a time again!
“We’ll be okay in one more day
As soon as the boom goes in.”

For then, as now, a logger could have
A heart that was often broke
The nostalgic haze revealed each face
In the waft of fireplace smoke.

Yes, some things last, and the men from the past
Deserve from us all a salute
With whiskery jaw and crosscut saw
And a tired old hobnail boot…

Oh, I saw again, the loggin’ men
In the tumbling fleecy waft
From the stove of stones that warmed Pete’s bones
In the lonesome logger’s loft.



Brothers raise $785 for Canuck Place
Opted for no birthday presents
By Devon Hanley

When Lori Stevenson sat down with her sons, eleven-year-old Trace and seven-year-old Cameron, to help them plan a late January, joint birthday party she was a little surprised to find their combined invitation list numbered just over 40 friends. Both born on January 17, the brothers wanted to invite their respective hockey teams and school friends to a skating party at the Powell River Recreation Complex.

Canuck Place GiftLori did some quick thinking and asked the boys if perhaps, in lieu of presents, they would be interested in collecting donations for a charity of their choice. “They went for it,” says Lori. “I did a little research and made some suggestions. When I mentioned Canuck Place there was a unanimous response, Canuck Place was it!”

Lori printed up invitations and the boys decorated donation boxes with Canuck stickers and logos. Starbucks agreed to donate coffee and hot chocolate and Safeway donated bottled water. The big day arrived; a table laden with goodies including a hockey rink-shaped birthday cake and beverages were set out next to the rink. The atmosphere was festive as kids and parents began to arrive. The party was a great success and raised an amazing $785 dollars. Lori and her two boys were not prepared for the generosity shown by all who attended the party. “We even had some people who were just passing through the arena donate,” says Lori. “We really want to thank everyone for their generous contributions.”  

On February 16, Trace and Cameron will be traveling to Vancouver with their dad, Aaron Stevenson, to attend a Canucks game. The boys are hoping they will have an opportunity to hand over a cheque to their two favourite Canucks, Ryan Kesler and Robeto Luongo. Trace explains, “It would be really special to give them the cheque, because it was the Canucks who inspired us to help out the kids and families who use Canuck Place.”

For more information or to contact the Stevenson family please call Devon Hanley at 604 485-4123, or 604 414-5434 or by email to devonhanley@shaw.ca.




Faces of Education

Ahms Tah Ow is a welcoming school

When Michael Peterson began teaching at the Ahms Tah Ow School in Sliammon four years ago he felt an immediate connection with his students. “Right from the beginning I was close to my students. I used to pick up one student in Cranberry and drive him out here every day,” recalls Peterson.

Ahms Tah Ow, which means “Our Teaching”, was created in response to lower graduation rates for Sliammon First Nation students. “Superintendent Jay Yule, Education Manager Lindsay Louie, Coordinator for First Nations Betty Wilson and others were concerned that there were a lot of people in the 16 to 30 year age bracket who were in limbo. They hadn’t completed high school, they weren’t working on it and they were not getting a lot of work. It was an economic issue as well as a social issue,” says Peterson. “There wasn’t a bright future for this group. This had and still has huge economic implications for Sliammon as a nation which is moving ever closer to completing the treaty process, which ultimately means being independent of the constraints and the safety net of the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs.

Faces of EducationPeterson, who was honoured last September in an article entitled Great Canadian Teachers in the Canadian Family Magazine, feels like part of the community at Sliammon. He studies the language, attends events and spends time getting to know the people. Courses are taught online through Cool School and Louise Dominick, a band member, is the home-school coordinator. “Louise is deeply rooted in the community; she is my conduit. I couldn’t ask for a better person to be working with.”

Ahms Tah Ow School is often the school of last resort as some students have been expelled or have dropped out of other schools. The school opened in 2004 with one student. Before long there were 20 students and then 40 in grades 9 to 12 and ranging in age from 16 to 60. “The program caught on quickly,” says Peterson.

Credit for spreading the word goes in large part to Louie and Wilson who were out in the community talking to people about the program. “What developed was a wide range of people in the grade 9, 10 and 11 level up to people who had only one or two courses left to finish grade 12.”

The first year was challenging to say the least. “There was coarse language, bad manners, and I felt like I was being tested. My response was to allow the changes to take place and maintain the focus on what needed to be done.” Many students weren’t highly motivated and some didn’t bother to show up for class yet the whole time Peterson patiently persevered, ready and willing to help as soon as they appeared.

“It’s hard for students who have been out of school for 10 years,” he says. They are pretty vague about what their goals are and they don’t have a lot of confidence.” Progress is slow; the drop out rate is high, yet when one student graduates, Peterson savours the sweet taste of success.

“We’re now seeing an increase in efficiency and effectiveness and we’re seeing a change in attitude overall,” says Peterson. “Students are bringing more and more positivity to the classroom.” Peterson says the program has changed along with the students’ attitudes. “Boundaries are being formed as the need becomes obvious. The program has evolved and that has to do with the change in attitude. The people who are more serious want those parameters in place because they want to study and graduate.”

Ahms Tah Ow is a welcoming school. The coffee pot is always on and there’s food in the fridge. “They can make themselves toast, a sandwich, porridge and we often have lunch brought in. There’s a real community centre feel to it.”

On any given day Peterson has from eight students to filling the room to capacity, all working away. “Some juggle part time jobs with school,” he says. “Some resist coming every single day but if you want to complete, if you want to make it work you have to bite the bullet and put in the time and effort.”

Peterson has always gravitated toward the alternate classroom environment. He’s worked for School District 47 since 1992, for much of that time as a teacher-on-call, but before that, he taught at an alternate school in Langley. Once here though he gravitated toward Westview Learning Centre, which was the chief alternate school in Powell River at the time.
“I’ve never been an authoritarian. It wasn’t in my nature and this handicapped me in some situations, so I had to do something different while working as a TOC and that was to simply be myself.” After adopting this approach, Peterson began to reach students on a personal level. “I became human to them and they became human to me.”

He helps students understand themselves, who they are, their place is in the world and what kind of a world they’re growing up in. “We talk about why things matter. We talk about global warming, and the fighting in Iraq.” Peterson is passionate about many things including peace, environmental issues and what is being done in the name of Canada in far away countries. “Mankind is in a pickle and it’s going to take the efforts of all of us to get us out.”



Explore Powell River

February 2008: Click to enlarge
Photos from the Knuckleheads