Editorial: Couldn’t happen here

Trent Ernst, Editor


The talk of the town last week has been the arrest of Thomas Sutton. He’s being chaged with second degree murder in the case of Devin Pisch, a Grande Prairie based drug dealer, thief and all around not very nice person.

While Pisch died the life he lived, the fact that someone from Tumbler Ridge might have had a hand is his death was shocking to say the least. These things don’t happen here. They can’t happen here.

But unfortunately, they can and they do. It’s easy to project our own morality on the people who surround us, but the fact is, in any population you’re going to have a certain percentage that get cancer, a certain percentage that is blue eyed and a certain percentage that believes that shooting someone because “they deserved it,” is okay.

In the last few months, it’s become apparent that Dawson Creek is playing host to a drug war.

A few weeks ago, in a situation that parallels an incident that happened to Pisch before he was killed, someone fired three rounds from a shotgun into a house.

In October, a man was kidnapped from the Taylor pub, beaten, bear sprayed and stabbed before he escaped.

Here in Tumbler Ridge we look at what’s happening there and are thankful that we live in such a small, friendly town.

And, for the most part, it is. But we are fooling ourselves if we think that Tumbler Ridge is immune to the disease.

There are drug users and drug dealers who live here. There are people who live here who think that the law was put in place simply to ruin their fun

Case in point: a few weeks back, a female friend was at the Halloween dance.

While she was there, her boyfriend caught another man trying to drop what looked like a roofie into her drink.

Rohypnol—roofie— is a drug that, in sufficient doses can cause people to forget what happens under the influence.

The drug is commonly called “the date-rape drug”, though has been used to commit drug-assisted robberies more than drug-assisted rape.

But these things don’t happen here in Tumbler Ridge.

I’ve also been talking with a number of people who work with teens in this town, who are saying that drug use, if not more rampant, is becoming more accepted, and there’s stories of kids as young as 12 and 13 getting involved in drug use.

But that? That doesn’t happen here.

But it does. And it has always been this way. These sort of things tend to happen more in transient populations, and Tumbler Ridge, despite early efforts to create a community rather than a work camp, has always had a large, transient population. While there’s a core group of people that form the backbone of this town, there are many more than come and go. Hundreds of people washed into town on the waves of employment when the mines were going, only to wash out again when the jobs went away.

And with the promise of low-cost rent in town, another group of people is floating into town again, from Dawson Creek, from Fort St. John.

Some of these people are keen to connect to this community, to pitch in and get involved.

An article published last year in Vice about jughounds—Seismic Gas Explorers who travel from remote place to remote place, usually staying in camps or hotels. The story can be seen as a fascinating commentary of what happens when you have an entire population completely disconnected from community, having no people around them to ground them, having no place to call home. It is a tale of booze and drugs, hookers and blow, barroom brawls and ex-cons and murderers. One of the most telling quotes is this: “In that kind of job, you don’t really have a life back home—life is basically seismic.”

It’s telling that most people around town didn’t even know who Sutton was before his arrest. While it isn’t a cure for all ills, it is interesting that the people who are often at the root of the problems are the rootless. The ones who are not connected to our community.

And perhaps rather than ostracizing them and excluding them more we should try connecting with them. It might not solve all the problems, but at least it’s a start.