Another Tragic Loss at Mount Currie

By Caroline Smalley on Jul 8 2008 (about 16 years ago).

Last Saturday my business partner for our manual snow removal business, Whistlers Snow Masters, informed me of the death of one of our hardest working, highly productive workers. Kenny Edmonds makes the second Mount Currie resident, friend and employee of the last 2 years we have lost. How many more heartbreaking stories (especially those relating to alcohol) until enough is enough?

I had gotten to know Kenny quite well. I recall a few occasions sitting with him in Tapleys after a long days work chatting with him about his future dreams – whilst watching him munch through a platter of chicken wings. Yes he had issues with alcohol but he was a good guy who took pride in his work – it was always important to him that a job was well done.

I have shoveled, laughed and joked with our Mount Currie friends – they can bring a million smiles. One of the biggest challenges we face with our business is the ugly ebb of substance abuse weighing its heavy toll. We do what we can to encourage more sober evenings – there are good days and there are bad.

Many a time we get thanked through gifts of deer steak and salmon. So often have they graced our snow-filled days with great humour and determined labour - making light of a job that can otherwise be pretty hard work to get done.

For manual snow removal, without Mount Curries folk, there’d be a lot more Whistlerites shoveling their own pathways and stairs! With shovel and ice pick in hand, for the past 16 years, these guys have been clearing the way for pedestrian traffic throughout Whistler Village and it’s surrounding neighbourhoods; ensuring doors can be opened and rendering areas safe.

As the employment pendulum swings a continued high, commercial machinery remains incapable of replacing traditional form, as powder days continue to create 24-hour flu epidemics across our town (and I understand why...!), our dependence on Mount Currie to labour the snow away is probably greater than ever before.

As we talk so passionately of The Spirit of Whistler, let us remember The Spirit of their Nation. For we are two communities living side by side and sharing of similar vision. It’s a vision of identity and of pride in belonging. It’s a vision of humanity, understanding and sustainability.

Consider for a moment the effect Mount Currie has on your daily life – on the lives of the inhabitants of Whistler. Now consider the effect the development of our community has on theirs.

In Whistler, we take pride in boasting of our community values, our management of culture and natural heritage. In preparation for 2010, we’ve spent millions on a centre that speaks of community; of united diversity in the arts and in culture – for this is Canada!

All I plead for is that the always real Whistler takes valuable time truly embracing that of which we speak. How can we address Mount Currie’s real needs? How we can make the concept of bridging cultures a concept that is real. Never mind government policy, I don’t give a damn about what we can’t change – but please let’s not brush Mount Currie under a carpet – please let’s make the idea of bridging cultures real.

These are people the same as us. No more, no less. They learn from their surroundings – with what they can identify with best. They do not go out to wish themselves or anyone harm, but like us, they can only connect and relate to that that connects and identifies with them. Relating to others does not entail focus on difference, but identification of where we connect. We are all people – we all have something to share.

The Lil’wat people experienced dramatic loss of language, culture, and family unity – their face of pride masked by substance abuse kindling dark clouds of racism and giving false appeasement to a far deeper fight. It is time we embraced a synergistic approach to create a logical balance of key values and community concerns. Our communal well-being is actually dependent on everyone’s gain. It simply stands to reason we work avidly in uniting our community’s embrace.

The sharing of ideas and considered view of different perspectives, delivers solutions which left to fend to our own devices, we simply could not hope to attain. Listening, interpreting and communicating meaning, we must build our understanding for cultural bridges where foundations stand in solid ground.

If we are a community that encourages entrepreneurial spirit and innovation to build community pride and create an economic base strong enough to preserve our values; if we are a community committed to engage sustainability as we look towards the future, then we must be a community committed to harness understanding of perspectives and culture unfamiliar to our own, especially when the culture lies close to our home.

As we are in our passions of where we live, where we work and where we play, the Community of Whistler must find unity in our vision and our core values. As it it true that in 2010 Whistler will take the International Stage in hosting the Winter Olympic Games, so we must take action to actively embrace the diverse cultures through which we base our Nations' pride.

This Valley is presented with an amazing opportunity – the opportunity to show how a cross-cultural society can work well together. The future is ours to create. If for nothing more than this – it’s time we now focused to find unity across this Valley we call our home.

Thanks for listening.

The Lil’wat Nation Official Site