Wednesday, April 25, 2007

First Nations Ag Meeting in Victoria

Aboriginal Agriculture :: Growing culture, honouring tradition
Indigenous Farm Conference & Tradeshow

Aboriginal Agricultural Education Society of British Columbia

News Release

Wednesday, April 25, 2007 -- For Immediate Release

Victoria Hosts National Aboriginal Agriculture Leaders

Victoria - A national conference and tradeshow focused on Aboriginal
agriculture will be held at Laurel Point Inn in Victoria on May 2-3, 2007.
The event will range from the practical to the visionary and will draw
together farmers, leaders and innovators across Canada from as far away as
Nunavut. "Aboriginal Agriculture: Growing Culture, Honouring Tradition"
will seamlessly link cutting-edge practices with traditional knowledge.

"This year, the conference and tradeshow will emphasize green food
production and explore issues like food security, niche marketing and small
scale processing," said Chief Harold Aljam of the Coldwater Band. "The
purpose of the conference is to share stories, present model solutions,
network, and showcase producers and youth innovations."

"We, as First Nations people, have always lived off the land whether it is
hunting, fishing, gathering or farming. Let's continue that and find ways
to help our youth take on that lifestyle," said Maynard McRae Jr.,
nominated for a young farmer award.

"The event will cover everything from cows to clams and many other
value-added products, including industrial hemp, biodiesel and eco-farming
technologies," said Lesley Dale, program manager of the Aboriginal
Agriculture Education Society of British Columbia.

The Victoria event, May 2nd and 3rd, is expected to attract hundreds of
leaders including chiefs and councillors, economic development officers,
Aboriginal farmers, organizations interested in food security issues, and
small food processors.

Lead sponsors of the event include the First Nations Agricultural Lending
Association, BC Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, and Coast Capital and
Vancity credit unions. Services were also provided by Diana's Monogramming
of Armstrong, BC and Menzies Printers of Kamloops, BC.

Featured speakers include Josh Duncan of the Native Brotherhood of BC.
Awards will be presented to distinguished senior and youth farmers by the
Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Agriculture and Lands.

- 30 -

Monday, April 23, 2007

regular email newsletter from Brandon Hughes

Brandon Hughes, of the federal government and located in Nelson, regularly sends out an email newsletter of interest for rural BC issues. Here is the latest one.

This e-mail is one of an ongoing series of information updates from Rural Team BC issued by Brandon Hughes (Canadian Rural Partnership/Service Canada). Any input or update ideas are welcomed. If you wish to be added to the list or taken off or for more information on the Team's activities mail me. Please feel free to forward this information to others who would be interested.

1. New Horizons for Seniors – Call for Applications - The Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program funds community-based projects that encourage seniors to participate in and contribute to their communities through volunteerism, mentorship and civic leadership. Eligible applicants include voluntary and non-profit sector organizations, municipal governments, band/tribal councils and other aboriginal organizations, as well community-based coalitions, networks and ad hoc committees. For more information call(604) 988-1880 or toll free at 1-866-317-8555 or visit

2. BC Rural Network Newsletter – The Network is an umbrella group of rural organizations and rural representatives formed to enhance the capacity of rural British Columbia to develop responses to rural and remote community issues. The Network works in close partnership with the BC Rural Team and is partly funded by the Canadian Rural Partnership. The newsletter has articles on the Network’s AGM in Smithers, the next Rural Summit in the Cariboo, and Learning Initiatives for Rural and Northern BC

3. Breakfast For Learning BC – Breakfast For Learning nutrition grant applications are now available on line. Breakfast For Learning nutrition grants start and sustain child nutrition programs in schools and community setting. Deadline for applications is May 15, 2007 Click here to access the online application

4. Food Guide for First Nations, Inuit and M├ętis - Canada's Food Guide has been tailored nationally to reflect the unique values, traditions and food choices of Aboriginal populations. The tailored food guide includes traditional food from the land and sea, and provides the best, most current information for eating well and living healthy. For more information visit

5. Wathershed Workshop - Williams Lake has been selected to host the British Columbia Community Workshop 2007. Registration is open for this biennial conference that brings together both professionals and volunteers involved in watershed management and protection, stream restoration, and fish enhancement in BC and the Yukon. Workshop 2007 is scheduled for May 18, 19 & 20, 2007, and the theme this year is “Stewardship in Transition: Impacts & Adaptations in a Changing Climate”

This year’s event is sponsored by Thompson Rivers University, Community Futures Development Corporation of the Cariboo Chilcotin, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Salmon Foundation, Baker Creek Enhancement Society, Pacific Streamkeepers Foundation, Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society, and Scout Island Nature Centre.

6. New Fact Sheets on Youth Health in BC (2007) - New research from the latest Adolescent Health Survey is now available for downloading. Topics include: sexual behaviour; connections to school; safety and violence; harassment and discrimination; emotional health; and injuries. McCreary encourages the use and duplication of these Fact Sheets. For more information or to download Fact Sheets, visit

7. Canada Business - Canada Business is a government information service for businesses and start-up entrepreneurs in Canada. Canada Business reduces the complexity and burden of dealing with various levels of government by serving as a single point of access for federal and provincial/territorial government services, programs and regulatory requirements for business. The site is searchable for audiences such as rural, First Nations, Women, and Persons with Disabilities. The site provides information on business start up, exporting, contracting with the Government and more.

8. Business Strategies in Historic Sites - If you are involved in the Heritage sector, join Fraser Basin Council and the Cultural Resource Management Program at the University of Victoria at the Helen Dixon Centre in Quesnel on May 14 and 15th, 2007 for the following exciting learning opportunity. Heritage organizations, as ‘social enterprises,’ have the capacity to develop innovative and sustainable revenue-generating strategies while also protecting and celebrating the unique heritage values of their structures, landscapes, collections and mission. At this two day forum, workshops will provide a framework in which you can conceptualize a range of heritage business opportunities that have the potential to generate essential revenues and strengthen the services that you provide within your community. The cost is $30 + GST, fee includes lunch and refreshment breaks daily. For information on travel and accommodation bursaries please contact the Fraser Basin Council at 250-392-1400 or e-mail This workshop is offered in partnership with the Heritage Branch, Ministry of Tourism, Sports, and the Arts, and the Fraser Basin Council. For more information on the event phone 250-472-4747 or mail or vist

9. Measuring Up Accessibility and Inclusion Fund - The Measuring Up Accessibility and Inclusion Fund, managed by 2010 Legacies Now, will provide approximately 70 grants of up to $25,000 in support of community projects that are aligned with the Measuring Up initiative and the 10 by 10 Challenge. The Province is investing $2 million to support community projects aimed at increasing accessibility and inclusion for persons with disabilities, Employment and Income Assistance Minister Claude Richmond announced today. The Measuring Up initiative, led by 2010 Legacies Now, focuses on creating fully accessible public spaces and promoting employment and community involvement for people with disabilities. Similarly, the Province’s 10 by 10 Challenge is targeted at increasing the employment of persons with disabilities in communities by 10 per cent by 2010. For full program details click on Measuring Up or contact Cynthia McEwan, Director, Measuring Up Project - Accessibility and Inclusion Initiative at 778-840-5169 or via email at

10. Community Flood Preparedness Tool Kit. Is your community at risk for flooding? Are you prepared? By planning ahead and taking precautions, you can do your part to minimize personal risk and property flood damage. The Provincial Emergency Program has published a comprehensive Flood Information Tool Kit which contains important safety information, fact sheets and articles to help you: flood proof your home and property; identify what to do if rising waters threaten your property; understand procedures for evacuating your home; and much more. If you live in a flood risk area, the information in this tool kit will be very helpful to you.

11. Stroke Identification - "During a BBQ a friend stumbled and took a little fall - she assured everyone that she was fine (they offered to call paramedics) and just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes. They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food - while she appeared a bit shaken up, Ingrid went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening. Ingrid's husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital - at 6:00pm, Ingrid passed away. She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ - had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke perhaps Ingrid would be with us today."

It only takes a minute to read this-

Recognizing A Stroke

A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke...totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed and getting to the patient within 3 hours which is tough. Please take the time to remember these "3" steps. Read and Learn!

Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.

Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions: The mnemonic is STRoke - the first three letters of stroke

*S* Ask the individual to SMILE.

*T* Ask the person to TALK – To REPEAT A SIMPLE SENTENCE Coherently (e.g. . . It is sunny out today)

*R* Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

If he or she has trouble with any of these tasks, call 9-1-1 immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

Widespread use of this test could result in prompt diagnosis and treatment of the stroke and prevent brain damage.

A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this e-mail sends it to 10 people; you can bet that at least one life will be saved.

Be a friend and share this article with as many friends as possible, you could save their lives

Here's a link to the report from the American Heart Association referenced above making the same point: a potential stroke needs immediate attention

Friday, April 20, 2007

Aesthetics and the Environment

It is interesting how much aesthetics is tied up with environmentalism - if it looks ugly to the observer, then it must be bad for the environment. I have two interesting examples in relation to this.

1) Last September I was in Germany and in the northern part of the province of Hesse there are a lot of wind turbines. They sit in the middle of a rural farming region. The turbines are in the middle of fields. I have had a number of people look at the pictures I took and comment on how ugly the wind turbines are - I ask them why. The answer is that they wreck the viewscape of a natural environment, it is the industrialization of a natural spot, that they are harming the natural state. All this in an area that has not been in anything approaching a wild state in over a thousand years. In our western society we have decided that farming and farmer's fields are part of natural environment and are a beautiful thing to see. This ignores that the fields are monocultures and have destroyed all the orginal habitat.

2) Clearcutting in forestry - once again, they look ugly and therefore must be bad. But when one compares the amount of land that is impacted by forestry each year versus the amount of land being permanently impacted by farming. In BC about 200 000 hectares of forests are harvested each year. If the land is considered to be fuly unavailable as habitat for ten years, then this means there is about 2 000 000 hectares on a rolling basis that are not available as wildlife habitat - about 2% of BC. About 5% of BC is farmed - this land is effectively not available at any time for wildlife habitat, and this of the best lands in BC.

But clearcutting is seen a villain and farming is not.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Farmland in BC and the ALR

There is an ongoing fear by some people in BC about the loss of farmland in the province. A fear that the agricultural land in BC is quickly lost, this is simply not the case.

The public is made to believe that great tracts of farmland are being lost to development in the province. Yes, land is being taken out of the ALR, but other land is being put in. The net loss of agricultural land has been almost zero. In 1974 there were 4 700 000 in the ALR, 33 years later the number is about the same.

The public is made to believe that the best land is being taken out of the ALR. Yes, some of the land on the island, in the lower mainland and in the Okanagan is of high value, but then so is the land in the Peace Country and in the Thompson Nicola region. As an example, the farm land in the Capital Region District is not of the best quality - lots of rock, not flat etc....

The public lead to believe that we will need this land to produce our food in the future. This argument simple ignores reality. The cost of labour and production of food elsewhere in the world is so much lower that we simply can not compete. Even if oil runs out and have to change to other modes of transportation, it will still be cheaper to use ships to send food over long distances.

The public is said to want local food. Great idea, but how much are you willing to spend? I feed a family of 5 half the time (2 people for the other weeks) - this means about 5lbs of vegetables or grains for a dinner. At $1 a pound, the meal can be done for under $10. Raise it to about $3 a pound and the meal gets much close to $20. Over a year this is an extra $2500 for dinners alone. Buying all my food local would add about $10 000 to my annual food bill. I would have to earn an extra $15 000 to be able to pay for this.

Much of the farm land in BC is under used and sitting quasi idle. You only need to go through the Cariboo and see how much land is not being used. This is land that can be used to grow onions, carrots, potatoes, garlic, grains and a lot more. right now it is sitting mainly in hay. Though the crops we can grow are not the more exciting ones.

The simple reality is that if we lost all the agricultural land in the southwest of BC and the Okanagan, we would still have in excess of 4 000 000 hectares of farm land. That land could produce enough grain calories for a population of 15 000 000. Some crop yield numbers:
  • Carrots - 40000 lbs per hectare - enough to feed 50 to 60 people 2 lbs each day for a year
  • Garlic - 20000 lbs per hectare - at 1/2 lb per family five per day, enough for 27 families
  • Potatoes - 85000 lbs per hectare - enough to feed 80 to 85 people 3 pounds a day for a year.
  • Berries - 25000 lbs per hectare - enough for a pound of fruit per day for a year for 70 people.
  • Cabbage - 90000 lbs per hectare - 2 pounds per person a day would mean 125 people.
The upshot is that we have a lot of land in BC for growing crops on and are in no danger of not having the land needed to provide for our food needs. There is no crisis at this time and there is unlikely to ever be a crisis. If we really needed to, we could produce enough food for the people in BC on 250 000 hectares in the Cariboo.

Most suburban family homes sit on about 7000 sq feet of land and could easily put 1500 sq feet of that into food production and produce 500 pounds of food in that area - add another 150 sq feet for a chicken coop and you can get close to 1000 eggs. Enough to meet the fresh produce and protien needs of a family of five for about half the year.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Alaska Canada Rail Link

Since I mentioned the rail link to Alaska, I thought I would add background on the state of the project.

There was a flurry of activity in 2005-06 - see this site. Since then it has allow gone quiet.

The number one person that is backing it is state representative Jeanette James. She has put a lot of effort into the idea.

I think the idea of the rail link makes huge sense - it makes it possible for Alaska resources to go through to the lower 48 and for the Alaska ports to become a new access for Asia. The benefit for BC and Yukon is that the rail line would open up large areas of natural resources for development. It also allows for the First Nations in northern BC and Yukon to have a lot more opportunties in the future.

Highway 37 and the Northwest

Northwest BC has a chance to have a huge amount of development along the Highway 37 corridor.

There are two mines already in operation in the area - Barrick Gold's Eskay Creek and Cusac Gold Mines Table Mountain mine which is open after 7 years being closed. Eskay produced 3500 kg of gold in 2006 and 170 000 kg silver - a value of about $150 000 000. Cusac is expected to produce abotu 750 kg of gold for a value of close to $15 000 000.

Mines that could operate in the area:
  • Red Chris
  • Schaft Creek
  • Galore Creek
  • Mount Klappan
  • Kutcho Creek
  • There are somewhere over a dozen significant exploration projects in the region
Beyond mining, the region has a huge potential from green power from run of the river micro hydro projects. But they need to have access to the grid to make any sense.

The highway 37 corridor also has a lot of timber and has seen relatively low harvesting. If one were to make access better along the highway and one were to provide cheaper power via the grid, the areas that are economical will increase. The current AAC of the Cassiar TSA is 400 000 cubic meters a year. This assumes that 50% of the forested land is uneconomical at this time.

With a mill in the region, the operable areas will increase dramatically in my opinion. Right now the Timber Harvesting Land Base is considered to be a bit less than 200 000 hectares. At the moment the timber has to be trucked a long distance to get any market. If you put a mill in the region - say one at Lower Post and one at Dease Lake, the THLB will rise dramatically. It costs about $2/hour to transport a tonne of material. A loaded truck can carry about 40 tonnes of logs or 40 000 board feet of lumber. 40 tonnes of sawlogs is a value of $2500 to $4000. The lumber is worth about $14 000.

Dease Lake to Prince Rupert is 785 km - Dease Lake to Stewart is 400 km. The first is a 20 to 24 hour round trip - a trucking cost of about $2000 and the second is a 12 hour round trip and a trucking cost of about $1000. You can see that with these prices, moving raw logs is simply only worth it if the timber has a very low cost of harvesting and high value. But moving lumber it becomes a lot more economical. The trucking the ports is not a huge portion of the costs.

One big mill in Dease Lake could produce 400 000 000 board feet of lumber from an AAC of about 1 000 000 cubic meters of timber. The value of this mill would be $120 000 000 in new lumber sales per year. The province would see an additional $20 000 000 a year in stumpage alone. But such a mill needs good electrical power and access to good transportation.

If you bring rail into and through the region, you really open up a whole set of bulk materials for the market as well. Coal, pulp and paper, industrial minerals and more.

With a better highway, a grid and rail to Yukon and Alaska, you improve the economics for everyone.

What I believe is needed is
  • A full transmission line all the way through to Alaska.
  • A first rate fully paved road to the Yukon border.
  • A plan to upgrade the port facilities at Stewart for bulk materials.
  • A rail line as was planned by BC rail many years ago to go through to the Yukon
  • A rail spur from the existing line where the Sustut enters the Skeena to Stewart - a distance of about 200 km
  • Construction of the Stewart Omineca resource road, though I would build it as a full highway which would run from Mackenzie/McLeod Lake via the Kemess mine location to Stewart.
The revenue potentials are huge for BC, but there is all this infrastructure that needs to be constructed. My hope is that people will start to consider this seriously in near future.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Mountain Pine Beetle

The numbers involved with the mountain pine beetle problem are staggering.

Close to 10 000 000 hectares of land are currently effected by MPD - this is an area not much smaller than the three maritime provinces combined.

BC has an inventory of about 1 200 000 000 cubic metres of pine. Based on the details in a provincial report, about 500 000 000 cubic metres of wood is not likely to be harvested.

That wood has a value of $30 000 000 000 fob at the mill gate. The lost economic value of the wood that is not processed is another $60 000 000 000. The loss to the Canadian economy of this wood not being harvested is about $100 billion - the tax revenue loss alone is $25 billion.

The lost timber is equal to about 9 years of the BC forest industry.

This loss will be borne by one single region in the country, the interior of BC north of the Okanagan and south of the Peace. This region has a total population of about 400 000 people. the loss of GDP to the region is $250 000 per person, though that is just the value of the timber not harvested. The impact of the reduction of the Annual Allowable Cut by about 30 000 000 cubic metres a year in this region is a GDP loss $6 000 000 000 annually - or $15 000 per person per year.