‘Climate Reality’ at Selkirk College in Nelson

| Chantelle Spicer, Editor |On November 21, more than 20,000 climate advocates will be speaking around the world as part of the Climate Reality Project. For one full day, Climate Reality Leader volunteers trained by former US Vice President Al Gore will hold public presentations and conversations on our changing climate across continents and time zones. The Climate Reality Project was founded based on the recognition that the shift to a clean energy economy is on – and accelerating by the day.

The Climate Reality Project Canada is the Canadian branch of a non-profit organization dedicated to mobilizing action around the issue of climate change, with over 600 active Climate Reality Leaders across Canada. Here in the Kootenays, Laura Sacks will be presenting at the Selkirk College campus at Nelson’s 10th Street location at 12:30pm.

Sacks has been an active community member and long-time climate activist. She has hosted the award-winning Climate of Change show on Kootenay Coop Radio and founded a local chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby – an organization focused on creating the political will for a livable planet – and helped build what is now one of the most active chapters in Canada.

“We are at a critical time, when the impacts of climate change are getting more severe. Yet we also have an exciting opportunity to create a better world by addressing the issue,” says Sacks. “By staying active and engaged in the community — as part of a global initiative — I feel hopeful that we can avoid the worst of climate change’s impacts.”

Students and the community are invited to attend.


Understanding Community Through History

Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre

| Chantelle Spicer | Summer vacations in the Kootenay region for me involve the normal activities of swimming (in the Slocan!), walking, reading at the waterside, and too much eating. As a newcomer to the Kootenays, it also includes getting to know the personalities and unique histories of the region.

To this end, I recently took a rainy day to visit the Rossland Museum and Discovery Centre. Nestled under Red Mountain just outside central Rossland, the centre has many ways to engage visitors with the history of the area – a history the continues to be a part of the community. A visit like this is highly suggested to all Selkirk students (and anyone really) to better understand the community and social structures we live in.

The main building holds the information centre, lovely and informative museum workers, and many traditional museum exhibits recounting the diverse histories of the Rossland area. The histories focused on are the geology. mining and industry, skiing, and some aspects of the social history from settlement onward. There is a small display that includes the Sinixt people (with participation of the Sinixt community), traditional plant use, and storytelling; however, this is a small aspect of the museum given the thousands of years of stewardship, as well as the complex contemporary relationship between the Sinixt, governments, and lands.

Grade 5 school project interpreting the “game” that was navigating life as an early Chinese immigrant

Also of small mention is the impact and importance of the early Chinese-Canadian community in Rossland. As is the case across the province, much of the infrastructure and industry of the was built on highly exploitive labour – particularly the labour of Chinese immigrants. This included the creation of the Trans-Canada railway and labour done in and around mines – not to mention the numerous social contributions of Chinese-Canadians. Though the museum exhibit honouring this aspect of history is small, there is an interesting project created by a Rossland Elementary 5th grade class on the experiences of Chinese-Canadians at the time of settlement that offers a critical look at head tax, labour conditions, and inequities in settlement communities.

There is certainly an interest in museum staff to engage with visitors in new ways, which includes shifting to more participatory exhibits and community events, reading lists in partnership with the local library, and art installations. Our group particularly enjoyed the postmaster’s exhibit in the main building where you could file or read a missing letter report (some of them were very funny) and photo booth areas. Hopefully expanding on more critical commentary and reflection around artefacts and historical moments is also on the way.

This is also one of the first community museums I have ever visited that included the role of women in early settlement. Due to the physical labour and danger of “wilderness” at times of settlement, much of this history is often given over to men. The Rossland Museum includes the history of prostitution and the (unfair) contribution of sex workers to Rossland’s annual budget. There is also a thoughtful pamphlet of early census data and the lives of women in Rossland at this time.

There is also a significant portion of the museum dedicated to industry, mining, and workers. Cominco (now Tech) funded an exhibit on the history of the refining plant and the ingenuity and motivation of early settlers dedicated to extracting resources and making money off the area. However, it is the dynamic worker’s history that was the real draw for us – for instance the miners of Rossland were the first local of the Western Federation of Miners in Canada in 1895, creating precedent for other workers across the province to fight for better and fairer working conditions. There is also an exhibit on the 1895 Rossland Miner’s Strike and its lasting effects on BC labour legislation, as it created the 1902 Trade Union Protection Act – the first legislation of its kind in North America.

Once outside the main building, there is an extensive outdoor section of the museum that at one time included a tour of the Black Bear Adit mine (unfortunately closed in 2009 due to safety concerns). There is now a demonstration on gold panning (at 1pm every day in the summer months), mining equipment, and a geologic museum.

A portion of the geological society’s collection at the Rossland Museum and Discovery Centre

Overall, this was a wonderful, engaging, and surprising day that was appreciated by our whole group from age 7-52. Please take time on the next rainy day to visit the Rossland Museum and Discovery Centre as well as any community museums in your summer travels – understanding the historical and contemporary contexts can really add to your experiences as a visitor or resident.


Funding Helps Increase Accessibility to Fresh Foods and Supports Farmers

The BC Government announced earlier this year that they would be expanding the Farmer’s Market Coupon Program, which works to connect low-income families with fresh, local food. The province is investing almost $1.6 million this year for the program that will supply weekly coupons valued at $21 for the purchase of locally grown food at farmers’ markets around the province.

This is an important initiative for students, given the unprecedented rate of student hunger in post-secondary students. A recent report by the national campus food organization Meal Exchange showed that nearly half of students surveyed had forgone healthy food to pay for books, tuition fees and rent.

“It helps people come to the market who might not otherwise consider this a place to shop,” Minister of Health Adrian Dix states. “It helps low-income people at a time when we have high inequality in our province and our government has given a focus to poverty reduction.”

The program supports farmers and farmers markets by bringing more customers their way, and provides health benefits by allowing more British Columbians to access whole fruits, vegetables and proteins.

Laura Smit of the B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets, which represents more than 145 markets across the province, described the program a “thoughtful and effective initiative” to improve health and support farmers.

“It increases farmer access for over 700 small-scale B.C. farmers and ranchers,” she said. “It keeps the money in their communities and sustains their farms. It is, quite simply, an amazing program with far-reaching benefits.”

From savoring produce at the peak of freshness to meeting the people who grow your food, there are countless reasons to support farmers markets. Here are just a few!

1. Taste Real Flavors

The fruits and vegetables you buy at the farmers market are the freshest and tastiest available. Fruits are allowed to ripen fully in the field and are brought directly to you—no long-distance shipping, no gassing to simulate the ripening process, no sitting for weeks in storage.

2. Support Family Farmers

Family farmers need your support, now that large agribusiness dominates food production in North America. Small family farms have a hard time competing in the food marketplace. Buying directly from farmers gives them a better return for their produce and gives them a fighting chance in today’s globalized economy.

3. Protect the Environment

Food in North America travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to your plate. All this shipping uses large amounts of natural resources (especially fossil fuels), contributes to pollution, and creates trash with extra packaging. Conventional agriculture also uses many more resources than sustainable agriculture and pollutes water, land, and air with toxic agricultural by-products. Food at the farmers market is transported shorter distances and is generally grown using methods that minimize the impact on the earth.

4. Know Where Your Food Comes From

A regular trip to a farmers market is one of the best ways to connect with where your food comes from. Meeting and talking to farmers and food artisans is a great opportunity to learn more about how and where food is produced. CUESA’s seller profiles that hang at the booths give you even more opportunities to learn about the people who work hard to bring you the most delicious and nutritious food around. Profiles, articles about sellers, and a map of farms are also available on this website.

The Cranbrook Market occurs on Saturday throughout the summer and draws many locals, tourists, and local producers

5. Connect with Your Community

Wouldn’t you rather stroll amidst outdoor stalls of fresh produce on a sunny day than roll your cart around a grocery store with artificial lights and piped in music? Coming to the farmers market makes shopping a pleasure rather than a chore. The farmers market is a community hub—a place to meet up with your friends, bring your children, or just get a taste of small-town life in the midst of our wonderful big city. It is also a great way to tap into the local settler history of the Kootenays, given the prevalence of agriculture in rich river valleys.

6. Get to Know Local Artisans

Its not only local food producers that are present at markets. This is a great way to connect with local potters, textile artists, painters, and soap makers. Local artists are important contributors to our local economy and sense of identity in the Kootnenay region.

There are many farmer’s markets that take place around the West Kootenay region. For more information on locations, days, and times, please visit: https://gokootenays.com/farmers-markets/


Release of the 11th Annual Report Card on Homelessness for Nelson, BC

The Nelson Committee on Homelessness’s (NCOH’s) Annual Report Card tracks community indicators and trends impacting homelessness and poverty and the work being done in the community to address these issues.  These will be reported, and panelists from community services will share information on the housing and support needs they see as a priority for the community.

This year’s focus is on the need for affordable rental housing for the community and for supportive housing options for the most vulnerable in our community.  NCOH is now operating under a new federal homelessness program, Reaching Home, and the event will highlight the changes that will be worked on towards a more coordinated approach among services, institutions and Ministries to improve access to services for the most vulnerable and chronically homeless to help improve their chances of moving from homelessness to home and establishing more healthy lives, included in community.

Key to this will be the provision of supportive housing, now being funded through BC Housing. Also highlighted will be the growing needs among at-risk and homeless youth in Nelson, the solutions seen by community services, and the need for second stage housing for women and children fleeing violence in our community.

An affordable home was defined as no more than 30 percent of income on housing costs, and the purchase price was no more than three times the annual household income. However, local support agencies in Nelson and Tasman showcase the pressures faced by community members, many of whom report 50 to 70 percent of their weekly income on rent or a mortgage, leaving some families with less than $200 a week for other expenses. |

The community is invited to the release of the 11th Annual Report Card on Homelessness in Nelson BC on Monday, June 24 at 12 noon at the Adventure Hotel Ballroom (parking lot entrance off of Hall Street.)

| Ann Harvey, Community Coordinator, NCOH, contributor |


“Not Extinct: Keeping the Sinixt Way”

Book Review

This book functions as a display of what collectivity, accountability, and resilience mean for Indigenous communities and allies.

Created with a Sinixt mother-and-daughter team at the forefront of the Blood of Life Collective, Marilyn James and Taress Alexis have followed in the footsteps of the late Elders Eva Orr and Alvina Lum to work as matrilineal representatives attempting to restore knowledge of their people’s presence in their ancestral territory, to repatriate and rebury exhumed ancestral remains, and to act as environmental stewards of the land. Combining classic Interior Salish oratory and a playful multimedia approach, the book offers stories to teach others about Sinixt laws, culture, language, history, and responsibility to the land.

Stories are the heart of the book, with each chapter beginning with a creation or protocol story. As the significance of stories relies on the audience’s understanding of specific cultural contexts, James and Alexis provide insights into perspectives and impacts of these stories on the lives of historical and contemporary Sinixt people, supporting their listeners by explicating history and social norms. Each chapter is closed by a settler member of the Collective reflecting on what these stories mean to their lives. These differing perspectives, accompanied by impactful and diverse illustrations (completed by 17 regional artists), provide the reader many opportunities and ways to engage with the subject matter.

I don’t tell any stories other than Sinixt stories and I have always felt a responsibility to tell certain stories as a Sinixt person.”

~Marilyn James

There is also an online audio version that offers full stories, which is available for download for anyone who purchases the book (I borrowed mine from the library so didn’t have access to it at the time of writing this review). Given the oral nature of Indigenous storytelling (and the fact that the stories represented in the book are brief summaries), this is an important aspect of not only the book but an honouring of tradition and power in story.

Ideas discussed throughout the chapters include the Columbia River Treaty and its impact on the region and Sinixt power, responsibilities of people who live in relationship with the land, archaeology in the region, the role of women and family structures in society, and basic daily conduct. A trend throughout many chapters is the call for all people to recognize that it is not only up to or for Indigenous people to have relationships with the land. Settlers, visitors, and newcomers alike are recognized as responsible for good conduct and accountability to the land and community. This is beautifully modelled in the collaborative nature of the book itself.

Also included in the book are a glossary of Sinixt words (Salish Interior) and phonetics for pronunciation, a glossary of English terms common to Indigenous communities and the government, biographies of all contributors, methods of collaboration on the book, and a powerful introduction by Marilyn James to set the tone of the book.

All in all, this is an accessible read for anyone seeking to learn more about Sinixt culture, the history of the region, and colonialism. In fact, one of the many reasons for creating this book was to provide community-made resources for teachers in the K-12 system who were interested in incorporating Sinixt culture and history in their cirriculum. There is also much to offer for seasoned veterans of the field of study, as the nuanced perspectives brought forward continue to validate the power of Indigenous communities and cultures. As a reader, I walked away awestruck by the resiliency of a Nation that the government, industry, and development has tried to drive to extinction for more than a century.

Though you could read this book quite quickly – like I said, its very accessible – I would highly suggest taking the opportunity to consider how these stories and perspectives impact your own life and conduct, as well as what you could do to use this to support Sinixt sovereignty and existence. Over time, this would be an excellent book for re-reading, as what we take away from stories will change over time with you.

| Chantelle Spicer, Editor |

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Columbia River Treaty Negotiations: Communities, Observer Status, & Meaningful Consultation?

The contemporary history of the Kootenay region has been defined and transformed by development – both on the rivers and along side them. Though the dams are highly visible infrastructures on our landscapes, the stories of the people are less visible but their impacts are just as strong. With renegotiations of the Columbia River Treaty happening, it is an important time to consider what the impacts have been, could be, and how the people impacted by these decisions are considered within the treaty.

The Columbia River Treaty is a trans-boundary, water-management agreement between the United States and Canada, ratified in 1964 following years of negotiations that had begun in the 1950s. The treaty sought to optimize flood management and power generation, requiring co-ordinated operations of reservoirs and water flows for the Columbia River and Kootenay River, on both sides of the border. However, dams and power (both social and electrical) were not new to the region – beginning in the 1890s increased development brought to the area through mining, hydro development began to take place. From the first hydroelectric plant built in Nelson in 1896 on Cottonwood Creek, to the large BC Hydro developments on the Kootenay and Pend d’Oreille Rivers and the new power plants built by the Columbia Power Corporation, hydro development has long been a part of the region.

The Corra Linn Dam, located at the outlet of Kootenay Lake to the western end of the Kootenay River, was built in the 1930s

This is a also a long history of changing communities. Takaia Larsen, a History professor at Selkirk College, explains that the original Columbia River treaty negotiation forever changed transportation, work, recreation, and communication in the Arrow Lakes region. Historically people, both Indigenous and early settler communities, were more connected via waterways than highways. The impacts of the dams and flooded lands were extensive, forcing 2,300 people from their homes in the Arrow Lakes region. The dams took a heavy toll on the ecosystem, prior to construction the Columbia River was considered the world’s richest salmon river. Despite these far-reaching impacts, neither Indigenous people nor residents of the impacted communities were included in the original treaty negotiations.

However, when Treaty re-negotiations were announced in May of 2018, both the US and Canadian governments rushed to include public consultations in the process, as well as include previous consultations from the BC government in 2012-13. Announcements in April of 2019 also saw the Canadian government applauding its inclusion of the Ktunaxa, Okanagan and Secwepemc Nations who had been utterly excluded from the original 1956 Treaty. The Nations have been providing input and declaring their right to participate in decision-making through public consultations for decades.

Katrine Conroy, B.C.’s Minister Responsible for the Columbia River Treaty, stated at the announcement that “this is an important and unprecedented step in demonstrating our commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to our journey towards reconciliation.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Chair of the Okanagan Nation Alliance expressed gratitude for the opportunity to ensure any new Treaty addresses the mistakes of the past.

“The original Columbia River Treaty in 1964 excluded our Nations, and wreaked decades of havoc on our communities and the basin. Canada’s unprecedented decision to include us directly in the US -Canada CRT negotiations is courageous but overdue and necessary to overcome the decades of denial and disregard. We welcome the government’s bold decision here.”

However, the Nations have been given only observer status within the process. MLA Conroy’s office has stated that having Indigenous Nations participate as official observers is unprecedented. “

There is no roadmap for exactly what this will look like, but our government and Global Affairs Canada are working closely with the Ktunaxa, Okanagan and Secwepemc Nations to determine the best approach.”

What is known for certain is that representatives of these three Indigenous Nations will be in the negotiating room and will observe negotiations between Canada and the U.S. They will also be actively participating in the break-out sessions during the course of the negotiation meetings. The Canadian government is currently finalizing an agreement with First Nations formally describing their involvement during the period of negotiations more generally, as well as protocols during negotiations sessions.

“Indigenous Nations are a key part of the process, Conroy’s office states. “They have been working closely with the governments of B.C. and Canada since February 2018, to develop and refine negotiating positions and strategies. This collaboration will continue as Indigenous Nations become observers at the Canada-U.S. negotiations.”

Furthermore, the Sinixt First Nation, who held great power and influence in the region prior to colonization and settlement, do not hold observer status within the re-negotiation. The Nation had (conveniently) been declared extinct in the region by the Canadian government in 1956 – just prior to the signing of the original Treaty. This eliminated a need for government consultation with the nation, eliminating any uncertainty in the progress of the project. The Nation is now held within the Colville Confederated Tribes in Washington.

As stated by Marilyn James and Taress Alexis in the book Not Extinct: Keeping the Sinixt Way, it disrupted the ability of the Nation to come back to their territory, carry out responsibilities, exercise influence, and maintain seasonal rounds.

Members of the Sinixt Nation following the BC Court of Appeals announcement confirming their rights and existence with their traditional territory in the Lakes region.

When the actions of the Treaty were implemented, the Sinixt were further removed from the landscape through folding and destruction of archaeological sites – up to 99% of the archaeological record were lost in the building of the Keenleyside Dam in Castlegar. It has also restricted the salmon from their traditional territories as well, further disrupting relationship and culture with the Sinixt Nation.

“To me, this stem of the Columbia River represents much more of what’s happening to us socially, politically, environmentally. It represents what is happened to this entire region.” ~ Marilyn James

Though the Sinixt Nation recently won a case for the BC Court of Appeals declaring their rights and existence within the Kootenay region, their inclusion in the Columbia River treaty re-negotiation must be put forward by the US government.

It is easy to see the difference between including Indigenous communities and actually listening to them. Consultation processes acrid the country that involve natural resource extraction are rife with lack of meaningful incorporation of Indigenous concerns. Even the observer status being applauded by the Canadian and BC governments is far from the nation-to-nation negotiations that would be a part of a decolonized process.

There have been moments in history where consultation processes with communities and industry have proven to be meaningful. A shining example of this is the Berger Inquiry of 1974, which was undertaken to investigate the social, environmental, and economic impact of a proposed gas pipeline that would run through the Yukon and the Mackenzie River Valley of the Northwest Territories.

Justice Berger heard testimony from diverse groups with an interest in the pipeline. Fourteen groups became full participants in the inquiry, attending all meetings and testifying before the commission. The inquiry was notable for the voice it gave to Indigenous people of the region, whose traditional territory the pipeline would traverse. Berger travelled extensively in the North in preparation for the hearings. He took his commission to all 35 communities along the Mackenzie River Valley, as well as in other cities across Canada, to gauge public reaction. In his travels he met with Indigenous leaders and citizens, non-aboriginal residents, and experts.

Berger’s report first volume was released on June 9, 1977 and followed with a second volume several months later. Titled Northern Frontier, Northern Homeland, the two-volume report highlighted the fact that while the Mackenzie Valley could be the site of the “biggest project in the history of free enterprise,” it was also home to many peoples whose lives would be immeasurably changed by the pipeline.

The result of this Inquiry and report was a ten-year moratorium to deal with critical issues—such as settling Aboriginal land claims and setting aside key conservation areas—before attempting to build the proposed pipeline. It also set the stage for many young Indigenous people of the region to feel and understand their power as leaders and partners.

One has to wonder where are Inquiries like this at a time of increasing Indigenous sovereignty, increasing inequality, and governments touting mandates and actions towards reconciliation.

Though far from the Berger Inquiry, Selkirk College and the Community Colleges of Spokane will be hosting the One River: Ethics Matter Conference at the Castlegar Campus on May 30 and 31. The sixth annual event invites those interested in new approaches to ethical governance of the river system to take part in two days of workshops, field excursions, expert panels and discussion. The conference is under the direction of the Ethics & Treaty Project, which is hosted jointly by the Center for Environmental Law & Policy and Sierra Club with support from the Columbia Institute for Water Policy. This is the first time the conference has been held in the West Kootenay, with previous gatherings taking place in Missoula, Revelstoke, Boise, Portland and Spokane.

“This is an excellent opportunity for people of our region to get a well-rounded look at the issues facing the Columbia River Basin,” says Jennie Barron, the Chair of Selkirk College’s Mir Centre for Peace and one of the members of the planning committee. “We are bringing together a diverse group of people from both sides of the border who care deeply about this river and what it means for the generations to come.”

Larsen encourages community members to participate in the process however they can, stating “the renegotiation is not going to change our region back. Archaeological sites will still be flooded, villages will still be under water – that damage has all been done and is a history impossible to overturn. However, the Columbia Basin Trust is a really important part of the region’s economy and this provides the only real form of redress for the damage caused by the original treaty.” 

Public consultations will occur throughout the region during 2019. However, given the international nature of the Treaty, as well as obvious power dynamics, how thoroughly and meaningfully community concerns and voices will

For more background information on the Columbia River Dams, please see the Touchstone Museum’s virtual exhibits.

For more information on the Berger Report, please visit https://www.pwnhc.ca/exhibitions/berger/


Kootenay Residents Fight for Threatened Forest Lands

| Save Cottonwood Society |The Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) announced March 21 that they have purchased some of the private land surrounding Cottonwood Lake. The 21.6 hectare section of land will be added to Cottonwood Lake Regional Park and preserved from logging.

“We’re grateful that the RDCK, with the help of the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT), has made this first purchase of land,” says Andrew McBurney of the Cottonwood Lake Preservation Society (CLPS). “We’d like to thank the many people who made donations and wrote letters to show our political leaders how valuable this forest is to the community. We appreciate that the RDCK directors and dedicated Parks staff have worked very hard to make this happen”

Despite the expansion of Cottonwood Lake Regional Park, the society is concerned about the remaining private land above Cottonwood Lake still under threat.

“The Cottonwood Lake area has essentially been subdivided,” McBurney continues, “and the RDCK and CBT have purchased land on the west shore of the lake, the entrance to the park, and alongside the Great Northern Rail Trail. So the larger portion of land (67%) above Cottonwood Lake is still privately owned and very much under threat. There is no zoning for this area and private land logging is still unregulated. When we began this initiative, our community-backed goal was to preserve all of the land around the lake, as well as the beautiful forests above Apex. We’ll take the good news of today’s announcement and keep looking for ways to save the remaining land. This entire corridor is simply too valuable to give up on. From threatened grizzly bears, sensitive wetlands, risks of flooding and the blemish on our reputation as an uncommonly beautiful place- the reasons for continuing are infinite.”

The society has raised over $50,000 on GoFundMe and increased their fundraising goal to $150,000 last month. They are still actively fundraising with the intention to preserve more land in the following months.

The CLPS is holding a second public meeting at the Rod & Gun Club on Wednesday, April 3rd from 6-8 pm, to hear community feedback on the RDCK’s purchase and discuss how the society can best use its funds to secure more land. Representatives from both the CLPS and the RDCK will provide an update and answer questions. 

“We need to come together again, like we did on that cold night in December and decide on our vision for the Apex-Cottonwood area,“ says McBurney. “Do we want to see it chopped up into clearcuts, or do we want to preserve it as an important centre for generations to come?”

In addition to the public meeting, the society is also holding a live music fundraiser at the Capitol Theatre Tuesday, April 2nd. More details can be found at savecottonwood.com

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HWW: Kim Pham

Building communities, allies, and partnerships is an important part of post-secondary and life generally. We welcome you to get to know the members of our Selkirk College community!

Kim Pham, Secretary, Selkirk College Students’ Union

Why did you decide to join the students’ union?

I decided to join Students Union primarily out of curiosity. After the Skills training in Kelowna, I felt that I belong to a dedicated group of people fighting for students’ rights. I love that idea because I have to fund my own education. This feeling motivates me and inspires me to be part of the students movement, as I know we are helping many students and their families.

Why is a post-secondary education important to you?

A post-secondary education is important to me because I want to have a better job. I am currently working in a fast food restaurant. The job is physically hard and precarious. It means I can be easily replaced. I believe everyone wants a job security where we can work at our best potential, rather than a job that we have to always worry about being replaced. In order to have a better job, I need knowledge and skills provided through education.

If there is one thing you could change about academia, what would it be?

 I would like to have a fairness for international students. As an international student myself, I want to have a capped tuition fee increase like domestic students have or at least to be able to budget for the fee. Similar to my workplace, not knowing how much my tuition will increase leaves me feeling precarious in something that is very important.

What is your favourite thing about the Kootenay region?

I like fresh air, beautiful landscapes and friendly people in the Kootenay regions. I have made many friends, so I feel included and close to my community. 

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HWW: Lori Barkley

Building communities, allies, and partnerships is an important part of post-secondary and life generally. We welcome you to get to know the members of our Selkirk College community!

Lori Barkley, Instructor, Anthropology, Peace and Justice Studies

What drove you to become a professor?

A friend at the time suggested I apply to be a teaching assistant at SFU after I finished my undergrad. At the time, seminar sizes were smaller & the Sociology and Anthropology department at SFU didn’t have enough graduate students for all of the positions. I started as a seminar instructor the fall after I finished by degree from the University of Calgary (I was a visiting student @ SFU so have some idea of the challenges of transferring courses between provinces). I loved it & it turned out I must have been good at it, as they kept hiring me back. I taught seminars in both sociology and anthropology, and was a marker for ethnic relations as well. So I sort of fell into teaching. After my experiences teaching, I decided to apply to grad school so I could teach on a more regular basis, rather than the contract treadmill. I was hired at Selkirk shortly after finishing my graduate degree.

What inspires you to continue being a professor?

Students! I learn from my students each & every day. I also love seeing when things “click” for them & they become inspired. Without the meaningful interactions with students I would have been out of this profession long ago!

If there is one thing you could change about academia, what would it be?

Smaller class sizes & free tuition. Sorry I can’t pick just one. If my tuition was as expensive as it is now, I wouldn’t be where I am. My tuition tripled over the course of my degrees & it was a struggle. I’ve seen the student demographic change as a result & students have so many financial barriers to overcome that it makes obtaining an education more and more difficult. 

I benefitted from small class sizes & I have seen dramatic changes in that regard since my first university class in 1988. When class sizes increase the quality of education goes down, it is inevitable. There is only so much an instructor can do in terms of establishing connections, providing extensive feedback, & just being there for students. I think everyone teaching in the education system right now, no matter what the level, struggles with this.

What do you see as the values of education in society today?

No matter the program of study, education provides several things: the ability to think critically and process large amounts of information, multi-task, work for various people with just as varied expectations, meet deadlines, etc., these are all valuable skills for the workforce and life in general. I greatly value my education as it opened my eyes to seeing the world in a much more complex and nuanced way. I’m a better person in the world because of the outstanding education I received at my alma maters (University of Calgary & Simon Fraser University). My motto is the more I learn, the less I know. Education creates a thirst for knowledge that is never satiated, there is always more to question, experience, know, leading to another set of questions. It is a fantastic journey to become a better member of society.

What is your favourite thing about the Kootenay region?

As an anthropologist, of course I will say the people! Coming here from Vancouver, I have certainly gotten used to the slower pace of life, and the ability to spark conversations with strangers without being suspected of wanting something. When I first got here, the friendliness was what struck me the most. I also appreciate the fresh air & sheer beauty of this place. There are just so many interesting people here that all have these amazing stories.


Five Free Things to do in Castlegar

Nancy Greene Park - Whitney Rothwell

It’s finally sunny out, time to get out and explore.