Trent Ernst, Editor
Celebrating mining week in Tumbler Ridge this year feels a little bit like celebrating the Stanley Cup finals in Vancouver: maybe it’s still too soon.
But the one thing that we’ve learned from the mining merry-go-round is that for every down, there is going to be an up. Maybe it should be called the mining Ferris wheel, though that lacks the alliteration. For each bust, there will be another boom.
It reminds me of a project created by fellow writer Dan Savage, called the It Gets Better Project. That project is targeted towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual youth facing bullying and other forms of abuse in school and in their peer groups because of their sexuality.
The project posts videos from people who have both survived this form of abuse, and who support people who have been victims of abuse, with the message: it seems bad right now, but it gets better. “While many of these teens couldn’t see a positive future for themselves, we can,” says the itgetsbetter.org about page. “The It Gets Better Project was created to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach – if they can just get through their teen years. The It Gets Better Project wants to remind teenagers in the LGBT community that they are not alone — and it WILL get better.”
And so, as we…well, celebrate is perhaps the wrong word. As we acknowledge mining week, and the role that mining has played in the life of this town and the people of this town, we also acknowledge that right now is a bad time for mining. Not just in Tumbler Ridge, but for the province in general.
Just this last weekend, 345 miners lost their jobs at Myra Falls, a zinc, copper and gold mine near Campbell River.
This follows a series of shutdowns and closures and layoffs at mines across the province last year.
And with the price of coal dropping even further this quarter, it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Or perhaps that light we see is just the headlights of an oncoming train, spelling even further ruin for the people of this town.
But it does get better. We’ve been here before. Yes, it sucks. Yes, not everyone will make it through unscathed. Few will. But it will get better. It might take a few years, and not everyone has a few years to wait. But it will get better.
And I know not everyone has the ability to wait for a few years. And I know that people are losing their houses as they scramble to find work that just isn’t there.
And my heart weeps for these people. And it’s cliche and trite to say that when you hit the bottom the only way to go is up, because I’ve been at the bottom of the barrel before, only to find the bottom has rusted out, dropping me into the muck below.
But it will get better. And sometimes the way it gets better is that we choose to accept the slings and arrows that outrageous fortune has flung at us. Sometimes you just have to just go all Life of Brian on it, and start whistling a jaunty tune in the face of everything.
Because you can’t control your situation. But you can control how you respond to it. You can’t suddenly decide that you’re gainfully employed making $35 hour again, but you can decide that you’re not going to let it get you down. You can live in the past, swearing and cursing at the company that laid you off. You can live in the future, dreaming for the day that the mines return to Tumbler Ridge. Or you can accept the past, hope for the future, and live in the present, thankful that today, you have your health. Your home (for now). Your family. Your friends. Or even just you’re still breathing.
It might not be much, but it’s a start. And with each new breath, remember, it will get better.