Act and Be Remembered

A bird does not sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.
-Chinese proverb

An elderly man sits back against the down of his pillow and opens his eyes. The sparkle next to his bed causes him to turn. His young granddaughter sat quietly, waiting to bid her last good-byes. She smiles as he watches her. He could see that she had a question so he reached over and patted her hand. The young girl finally spoke, “Poppa, I was just wondering, why are you, you? What should I remember?”

He thought hard, how to answer a question like that! Do I say, “A man with blond hair and blue eyes, or my favourite colour is green? How many people have those same physical traits? Perhaps professionally, a land surveyor for nearly 50 years.”

Differences are not so much found in the physical but in the character. Not a single person has ever lived with the same character as you, with the same passions and values. It is development of these traits that I feel determines the fulfillment of our purpose in life.

What are you passionate about? What makes you get up every day and face the world with confidence in your ability to change it? There are six billion issues on the planet and every one of them matters just as much as the other. We have been given an obligation to make our voices heard; when we don’t use that voice, we defy our obligation.

One major issue to our generation is the environment. People care about our home and many have realized that even after every war ends and terrorist is caught, we will still have to face the state of the place we live. And here’s the dirt. It is in trouble. The intricate balance that is the Earth is upset. We are in the midst of the largest mass extinction since the dinosaurs roamed.

As I gaze out the living room window I can see the beauty of the natural surroundings in our town. It is what makes Fernie, well, Fernie. It is the character of the community and we should care about it. We should look after it and care enough to act, and here is an ideal opportunity.

In our own backyard, just over the mountain ridge to the east is the Flathead Valley. It is an amazingly rare 158,000 hectares of pristine wilderness. Home to more grizzly bears per acre than anywhere in the interior of North America, it is one of the most biologically significant places on Earth! Sixteen different species of carnivore predators live there and the water quality is unparalleled in North America.

This unique place is being threatened by resource exploitation that wants to trade common industrial practices with what is astonishingly rare. Just to the west, the Elk Valley is already home to five monolithic coalmines. Now British Petroleum is poised to start drilling for coal bed methane just west of Fernie this spring. Thousands of people are employed mining millions of tonnes of coal every year, not to mention the jobs created as a spin off to mining. Is that not enough?

Is not everything about balance; if unstable can it upset both the environment and society? Protecting the Flathead would benefit our economy via awareness and tourism. Most importantly it would protect the character of our town and help to strengthen international relations with our US neighbours who deeply value these headwaters. Even Barack Obama supports the efforts to protect the area for future generations.

We are given a voice for a reason. Here is an incredible opportunity to make our voices heard. Change is never viewed individually. Your letter of support could be the one to change decision makers’ minds.

What will you be remembered for? How will your decisions today reflect how your grandchildren remember you? Is it because of your passions, what you stood up for, what you believe? I hope that you will think of the youth of today because we have particular interest in protecting your home, as we will be the ones to inherit it.

Announcement: February 10, 2009, the Province of BC announced a ban on all mining, oil and gas development and coalbed gas extraction in the Flathead Valley. Congratulations to the government leaders for taking this issue in the right direction; you will be remembered for this critical first step.

Chalice Walker, born and raised in Fernie, is a Grade 11 student at Fernie Secondary School. Listening to Simon Jackson, from the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition, inspired her to her to write about this issue. Learn more at

Photo Courtesy of iLCP Flathead RAVE
Copyright @ Cristina Mittermeier, iLCP