Saturday, June 27, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead June 26, 2009

The Coast Tsimshian and Ridley Terminals agree, the School Board finds differing opinions and it's a world class fishing resort due south of Rupert, some of the highlights of the Friday edition of the Daily News.

RTI AND COAST TSIMSHIAN MAKE HISTORY ON THE DOTTED LINE-- It was hailed as an historic agreement between the management of Ridley Terminals and the First Nations of the Coastal Tsimshian, as participants from both sides outlined their new partnership for the two, which will see the Coast Tsimshian receive preferential treatment on contracts above $500,000. (see story below)

The Middle school issue gains another life, as School District 52's board reverses their decision of only a day before to move beyond the introduction of a middle school for Prince Rupert. The process will now resume in September when a new consultation period will begin, leading up to yet another vote on the now controversial issue and the potential for more school closures to follow as part of the fall out. (see item from blog here)

Most of us only see the place when it's being towed out of Prince Rupert Harbour towards its summer location south of Hartley Bay, but regular readers of exotic travel magazines will know that the King Pacific Lodge is one of the top resorts in the world for those that wish to fish.

Conde Nast magazine has apparently placed the lodge as number four in the world according to its readers survey, a pretty high tribute for the local fixture. Those that do stop by for a visit dig deep for their four night stays, the cost of a visit to the Lodge is towards 8,000 dollars for the four nights, one imagines that you're somehow guaranteed a fish for your efforts.

Stock cars ruled the day in the sports section with a preview of the upcoming races in Terrace.

Total pages in the Friday edition (18)

Front page, headline story:

By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Friday, June 26, 2009
Pages one and three

An historic agreement was finalized Thursday, leaving the Coast Tsimshian that much closer to fulfilling the promise of self-sufficiency.

Chances Gaming Convention Centre was the location of an official opportunities agreement between Ridley Terminals Inc. and Tsimshian communities, Metlakatla and Lax Kw'alaams.

It will be a test case for other business interests on the North Coast to watch.

If it works, it could payoff handsomely for both RTI and the Coast Tsimshian.

"Today is a positive step in reclaiming our history as some of the best traders in the world," said Lax Kw'alaams author and protocol agreement consultant, Calvin Helin.

Helin, who is also the brother of Lax Kw'alaams elected chief John Helin, said that the agreement with RTI was more than just overcoming a challenge of a working agreement with a nonaboriginal business.

"It is about Canada acknowledging that this is not a new reality but an already existing one," said Helin of the need to work with First Nations communities across the northwest.

The agreement will in effect open doors for the Coast Tsirnshian at RTI. It will give them preferential treatment on contracts above $500,000.

That means that those opportunities priced above that threshold will be divided in to portions that would allow the Tsimshian to get involved in some capacity, providing job opportunities.

On hand for Metlakatla was David Lees Jr. who was there on behalf of elected chief, Harold Leighton, for the signing ceremony.

"Today is a great day and marks a significant milestone," said Lees. "For Prince Rupert, and the region, we now have an opportunity and potential."

RTI Chairman Dan Veniez, who is currently embroiled in a war of words with northern B.C. municipal leaders, some wings of the federal Conservative party and Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen over the possible future privatization of lITI, was also on hand to sign the documents.

"I just want to tell you how proud I am of you and how proud I am to be here," Veniez told a full room of Tsimshian hereditary and local community leaders.

Also on hand were mayors Jack Mussallem and Dave MacDonald.

The agreement has been in the works since a memorandum of understanding was signed in October at the Lax Kw' alaams office.

That was a subdued event that took place a couple of days after a much more elaborate event at Chances was quashed after some hereditary leaders said they were concerned about the lack of consultation.

One of the critics that day was Buddy Helin, John and Calvin's uncle, who said at the time he felt the agreement was a surprise.

Yesterday he personally shook Veniez's hand and celebrated the historic agreement.

The momentum from the morning took the Tsimshian up the hill to the Crest Hotel from Chances Gaming Centre.

Led by a rhythmic drum beat, the Coast Tsimshian dropped in on the Prince Rupert Port Authority's annual general meeting.

It was there, during an annual financial review by PRPA vice president of finance, Joe Rektor, that the Tsimshian interrupted proceeding to remind the PRPA that after five years of negotiations, there is still no agreement between them.

They presented the opportunities agreement to PRPA chairman Dale McLean, and president and CEO Don Krusel.

"We are here to send you a message that we are trying to get there with the port. Five years is too [long]. We are not going anywhere and you have to negotiate with respect and honour," said Helin.

McLean responded by thanking the Tsimshian for coming to the meeting, and that an agreement was very close.

Krusel echoed that sentiment. "We would be very disappointed if an agreement is not reached by the end of 2009," he said.

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