Today is Remembrance Day, and later this morning we will once again honour those who fought and died for our freedoms. lest we forget why they died. In Smithers we celebrate this event at the cenotaph built on a plot of land that was dedicated to our war veterans called Veterans Peace Park. The mayor of Smithers, Glads Atrill, well one could tell you a lot about her, I think they call that skeletons in your closet. The last I heard, feel free to update me is that she is still living in Telkwa, not a resident of Smithers.
Next we need to introduce you to a project where donated tents and a lot of money was wasted by good people setting up this camp with good intentions being the motive. Check out this story by the Interior News. Missing from that article is all of the details, like a heated cookhouse, much of this was later burned to the ground, and no press coverage was made of that incident, even with a massive black cloud that was attended by Smithers Fire Department. No coverage is a very convenient way to pretend it did not happen.
We need to tell you about Gladys Atrill in order for people to truly understand what is going on here. For almost 6 years (5 years plus 8 months to be exact) Gladys Atrill was a trustee of SkeeanaWild Conservation Trust. In case you do not know who they are SkeeanaWild is primarily funded by the Tides Foundation and linked by Eco Activists that include Nathan Cullen and Taylor Bacharach as well as another name, the former chairman for the Skeena-Bulkley Valley NDP Association by the name of Dan Mesec. More on Dan later.
The Tides Foundation has for years been the one to bankroll the fights of the underground NDP left working hard to halt all logging, all industry, and all pipelines that would bring more wealth and jobs to our communities. In fact it would be fair to suggest these people have single handedly undermined our communities for over a decade now. Both Cullen and Bacharach have deep ties and allegiance to the radical lefts environmental movements.
Dan Mesec the not so known player in this field runs a blog called Skeena Strong and Dan has close ties to SkeenaWild, Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition and Raven Trust. (All connected to the Tides Foundation) as we could not find an ending date one might assume Dan began work at SkeenaWild Conservation Trust as the Communication coordinator since 2013. Plus Dan has also worked on and off for Vista Radio (CICK Radio) and Interior News in Smithers.
Homelessness has a lot of history in Smithers, go back to 2018 and the Interior News story ‘They’re not homeless, Smithers is their home. They’re houseless’ where Taylor who was still mayor of Smithers campaigns for more money to support the homeless, lets be honest here, homelessness is being used to cover very serious drug and alcohol addiction, so serious they never qualify to live under a roof. They simply are in need of mandatory rehab but socialism demands the right of addiction and addicts rights above societies rights.
In that Interior News video let me quote ” Lisa Glaim has two small dogs, Hannah and Booboo. “I’ve been sleeping on the street because they can’t stay at the shelter,” said Glaim. “I have a family but my family don’t love me because of who I am. I need to respond to that, but I’ve had my dogs … one’s 12 years old, the other one’s three years old turning four, and I need a home for them, too because I will not live without my dogs … They make me happy and I take care of them. They eat better than I do.”
Then in 2019 a year later the same person is renting a townhouse, no electricity, its cold, and social media has it that a fire was lit to get some warmth in the place. Neighbours say it was a party house, lots of people coming and going. Then this “Council awards contract to demolish fire damaged townhouse” But the good news is the dogs were saved.
Now about that planned 24-unit supportive housing project on Railway Avenue, it was built and called the Goodacre Place it is a 22 unit supported housing project (not the planned 24 but close enough) offering long-term tenancies and short-term emergency stays for people who are experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of becoming homeless. Goodacre Place is developed in partnership with BC Housing, the Town of Smithers and Smithers Community Services Association.
That brings me to the next point of bitter contention.
Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre attribute the deaths to the lack of culturally safe services for Indigenous residents, putting the full blame on the very people who put in so much time and effort to help the homeless situation in Smithers.
So would it be a surprise to find Dan Mesec to write a promotional article about Gladys Atrill and the so called homeless camp in Veterans Peace Park not so far from our veterans war memorial. You need to hear what Dan says in the attached audio file. The term that comes to mind in the interview is “leading the witness” to say what he wants them to say.
Then the Moose Radio in August this year 2021 where they said quote “The Homeless Count that was conducted in Smithers on April 14 and April 15 found that 33 people were identified as experiencing homelessness. This is an increase from 29 in 2018. According to the report, 93% of the community’s homeless population identified as Indigenous and 70% of the homeless population reported having two or more health concerns.“
So what they were saying in a cryptic sort of way is that 31 of the 33 homeless are aboriginal.
In 2014 the “count found a total of 22 homeless individuals: 13 in emergency shelters, 8 sleeping outside and 1 with no fixed address (NFA)” quote from RDBN
So let me recap, we built a 22 unit homeless shelter in 2019 for 22 homeless people, however after we housed them, we still have 8 to 10 people moved to a very expensive tent city outside of Smithers courtesy of the local people, then a year later meaning today the Goodacre Place is full and we have another 33 people living in tents or in the street. Plus we have a full Broadway Place Emergency Shelter. and we have the Passage Transition House with 9 more units for women.
Reminds me of the saying “Kevin Costner, in the film Field of Dreams (1989). While wandering in a corn field, Ray Kinsella hears a strange whisper: “If you build it, he will come.” Build what?“
I want to go back to that radio interview by Dan Mesec, where I quote he writes the following ” The town created a facility on the outskirts of town to provide safe living, heat, food and shelter. After that shelter closed down due to lack of funding and less isolated measures, the town asked their homeless population to set up tents in the town centre, Bovill Square. Now the tent city has moved them again to Veteran’s Park. In both previous locations (and still including this one), the people living in these tents are experiencing verbal threats and harassment.“
Note that Dan Mesec, the clever writer says due to a lack of funding but is oblivious to the fire that burned most of the camp down. Do you seriously expect the same people to once again sink their hard earned cash into a place that burned down without anyone asking why it burned down?
So we can be clear about one issue, it was Gladys Atrill who chose to place them in with our war veterans. see Veterans Park homeless encampment to stay in place.
“A roundtable of service agencies, including the Town, Northern Health Mental Health Outreach, Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre, Positive Living North and the RCMP decided the best temporary solution was to let them set up on Town land.”
So I have to ask a question about these poor frigid homeless deprived people, we have so many great assets in Smithers to help the homeless so why are the veterans paying the ultimate sacrifice?
We have a new town hall, I am sure you can clear two rooms to look after these needy people, I hardly think the residents of Smithers would mind, at least to look after the two non aboriginal people. Next we have the Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre a multi million dollar building (it houses nobody at night) with at least some space to house a few aboriginal people with an assurance they won’t get the racial mistreatment that happens at the Goodacre Place, then you have the Friendship Centre Hall on third Avenue, wow, tons of space in there, not to forget even the Office of the Wet’suet’en is not being used due to Covid, why waste the space?
Why when we have so many warm places for these desperate people, why are they sleeping in tents in Veterans Park?