Biting the hand that feeds

Resource industries in Canada are used to facing pressure. For forestry, mining and oil and gas, some of the pressure is caused by poor access to markets, simply because of our vast geography.

For agriculture, farmers and ranchers never know if weather will be a friend or enemy, as it is always unpredictable, and the huge work load makes it hard to attract young people to the industry. These challenges are hard enough, but all our resource industries in Canada are facing additional pressure from a few idealists.

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What we have happening right now is a few idealists pushing the public into thinking that the very industries that provide our jobs, food, health care, and all other government services, are harmful and will kill us and the Earth if we don't shut them down. Some suggest that the problem is people. Even if the fine folks advocating for this begin to offer to reduce the human population one activist at a time, it won't be enough to reach their unrealistic solutions to their uninformed problems.

It often seems that the voices calling for panic would have us point to each other as the destroyers of our environment. We need to resist that call. We need to stand together because the solutions to the real problems we face will be found in working together, as well as individually, in our own - and our community's - best interest. Beyond the very real things like food, heat for our homes, transportation, a tax base able to support excellent government services compared to less developed countries, what would our lives be like without the money generated by resource extraction?

Many local charities wouldn't survive in their current form if it wasn't for donations from our various resource industries. I have spent the last few weeks trying to compile a list of local donors to sports, education, arts and cultural organizations. Perhaps someone has a comprehensive list, but I couldn't find one. What I did find is even the largest companies in town don't really advertise their charitable giving. And often it seems that they make many small donations to many different organizations.

The largest local employer (not counting the school district, the hospital, or the city, none of which would exist here in even close to their size if it wasn't for forestry, mining, or oil and gas) is likely Canfor. Perusing Canfor's website doesn't give any information, just a place to request funding. The one thing that is very public is Canfor Theatre at UNBC, which implies a significant donation to the university. But, other than that, it seems their donations are mostly to small groups like 4-H, rodeos, sports, Indigenous cultural events, Dry Grad and scholarships.

Local forest product companies like Carrier Lumber, Dunkley Lumber and Brink Forest Products provide significant funding to various organizations as well. Brink just promised $1 million to CNC for training. Kordyban Lodge, built to provide a place to stay for out-of-towners receiving cancer treatment, was largely funded by the Kordyban family, who own Carrier Lumber. Again, though, I know that these families and companies also provide funding to many other local organizations, so much so that it is hard to track them down.

Various mining and oil and gas companies like Rio Tinto, Encana, Coastal Gas Link, and the companies that provide support for them, support the Northern Medical Programs Trust, Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation and sports, arts and cultural organizations. The companies that support the major companies also often appear in lists of donors. Think of companies like Rolling Mix, Inland, Huber Farm Equipment, IDL, IFS, CN, PWB, IRL and TWD.

Kathy Nadalin has written for the past seven years in The Citizen about the people who built Prince George. Many of the names in her two books appear on the back of programs for arts and cultural events, sporting events, etc.

There is so much good here. So much generosity.

Perhaps the best way to inform yourself on all the side benefits of our various resource extraction industries, is to read the sponsor list at the next event you are at. Check your child or grandchild's sports or arts club list of donors. Check the symphony's donors. Check the Spirit of the North wall of donors. When your child receives a scholarship, check the donor.

These companies and their employees have built a better life for us all. Change is inevitable, and environmental protection is worthwhile, but unless we are willing to go back to the pre-industrial era and live like the Indigenous people did, we need to take a breather. Let's allow reason, and not panic, to inform us.

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