Editorial: Leavings

Trent Ernst, Editor


For the last three years, my wife and I have been concerned about the fact that my eldest daughter is still, at age 11, reversing her letters.

We’ve been trying to get an evaluation, to find out if it is dyslexia or some other learning disability, but three years on, nothing has happened…yet.

We are just now seeing the first steps to having her assessed. Many factors played into this, from challenges in the class dynamics to the strike to the fact that the province is cutting services all over BC.

This has lead to the occasional conversation about maybe moving someplace larger, where there are more services available for the kids.

Don’t get me wrong, I love it here, and it is a great place to raise kids for a number of reasons: safety and a small school means more personalized interactions with the kids, but there are some drawbacks. If we wanted to enroll her in music lessons, or dance, or fencing, or take her to a private clinic, that’s just not going to happen here.

The most recent conversation was initiated by the loss of the youth councillor here in town. While the Ministry of Children, Family Development has promised to fill the position, it is just another thread in the support net cut out from under the family.

Just this Sunday, Doug Spinney, pastor of the Fellowship Baptist Church and a personal friend announced that he was taking a job down in Clearwater. My wife cynically commented there really is no need for us to move anywhere if we are looking for a change of community, as the entire community appears to be leaving on us. When things pick back up, there’ll be an entirely new group that surrounds us.

The list of people that have left over the last year reads like a cenotaph.

Which reminds me of a story I wrote exactly a decade ago for the Tyee. At the time, I wrote about how I love the wilderness around here. (At the time, when people asked me how I liked it in Tumbler Ridge, I would joke I liked being outside of Tumbler Ridge better.) And sure, it has been nice to be able to own a house, in the Lower Mainland, we would have been doomed to rent forever.

But as much as I like the scenery, and as much as I like owning a house, it is the people—friends and family—that makes Tumbler Ridge the place it is for me. And if these people were to leave, I wrote, I didn’t know if I would stay.

Now, many of those people have left, and I’m still here. And while it sometimes seems that the town will be a ghost town come 2016 if something doesn’t change, the fact is, we still have plenty of things going for us. We have:

Great doctors and nurses and staff over at the clinic who care about our community and its people, and go out of their way to help.

Teachers in the schools who genuinely care about kids and love teaching. While small schools may suffer from a lack of electives, that is symptomatic of a greater provincial problem.

Caring and dedicated staff putting out amazing programming at the TR Public Library, Community Centre and SD59.

A strong network of volunteer organizations who host children’s events, donate of their time and funding to support the community and its people.

So, while I will mourn those people who have left us, Tumbler Ridge is still home for me and the family, for the foreseeable future, at least.