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Traditional territory well used

Re: Clean digs in Whistler (Pique letters April 24) Francois Lepine’s assertion that there have been no First Nation archaeological sites found in Whistler couldn’t be further from the truth.

Re: Clean digs in Whistler (Pique letters April 24)

Francois Lepine’s assertion that there have been no First Nation archaeological sites found in Whistler couldn’t be further from the truth. There are in fact 14 registered archaeological sites within the RMOW boundary, and many more sites known but not yet recorded with the B.C. Archaeology Branch.

Prominent among these sites is a traditional Lil’wat village at Green Lake, where there is a large housepit depression that dates back prior to 1846. Housepit depressions are the remains of isktens, which are the traditional underground homes of the Lil’wat people. Unless you know what you are looking for, evidence of these traditional homes could easily be missed.

Other archaeological sites that would not be noticed by most people are culturally modified trees and pictographs. The Whistler Valley Trail is littered with culturally modified trees, which are cedar trees that show evidence of cedar bark stripping from over 150 years ago. And when heading north from Whistler along Highway 99 a pictograph (a rock painting made from red ochre) can be found on the rock face by Green Lake.

The Lil’wat Nation Land and Resources Office has an abundance of information on archaeological sites and other evidence of Lil’wat people’s past use of its traditional territory — including the land within the RMOW. We felt compelled to respond to Mr. Lepine’s letter and dispel any notion that Whistlerites were the first to inhabit the Whistler Valley.

Lucinda Phillips, Director

Lil’wat Land and Resources Office

Lil’wat Nation – Mount Currie Band

Ignorance defined

Re: Francois Lepine’s letter

Definition of ignorance: The condition of being uninformed or uneducated. Lacking knowledge, awareness or information.

With respect, I ask that Mr. Lepine spend some time reading the history of First Nations People in Canada. His remarks are completely unfounded and insulting to many people.

D. Wolfe

Mount Currie

What else can we learn?

In regards to last week’s letter about “no trace” camping techniques by First Nations, I say good on the First Nations for using "no trace" camping techniques. Let's see what else we can learn from the First Nations.

Mike Fanning

Whistler

Evidence not always buried

Re: Clean digs in Whistler (Pique letters April 24)

I think perhaps Mr. Lepine has watched too many television specials and assumes that only when an excavator unearths an “Indian cemetery” or a subterranean pit full of ancient pottery and spearheads is evidence of First Nations’ occupation proven.

The fact is people have been in Whistler for hundreds of years. They hunted, gathered and settled in the valley and remained here as foresters and miners during Whistler’s development. First Nations people are still here.

If you are looking for evidence of historic presence I would point you to the pictographs by Green Lake, painted by Lil’wat hunters to mark game routes. Look along the River of Golden Dreams for culturally modified trees, used as a source of inner cedar bark for weaving. At the Fitzsimmons Fan you may find depressions in the ground which are the only remaining indication of a Lil’wat village that once existed there.

First Nations people likely were the first users of “leave no trace” camping techniques, after all wood, bark, roots and hides are materials not known to endure. Perhaps we simply need to look for a different type of trace. The new Squamish-Lil’wat Cultural Centre will hopefully educate all people about this largely overlooked part of Whistler’s history.

I hope, Mr. Lepine, that you will visit the centre this summer and find the evidence that your years of excavation were unable to uncover.

Tracy Howlett

Whistler

First Nations put LRMP over the top

RE: Inge Flanagan's letter in the April 24 Pique

While Inge Flanagan's comments on the importance of protecting the biodiversity in the region and some of the new protected area specifics are most sincere, I think it is very important to be clear that protection of the upper Soo and the upper Elaho valleys in the form of new conservancies is ultimately very substantially due to the vision and strength of the Squamish and Lil'wat Nations.

Inge is correct in saying that protection of these areas is something that AWARE has advocated for some time, but it is the First Nations who, in the end, really "put it over the top" to see these areas safe from industrial development in order to protect their cultural values and myriad natural values.

The same occurred in some other remaining wild parts of the Sea to Sky LRMP plan area, such as the upper Birkenhead valley, Twin Two Creek, Cerise Creek, upper Rogers Creek and others.

AWARE does deserve credit for its role and its perseverance in the Sea to Sky LRMP. However, it is very important to recognize the forethought and commitment of others before and during the LRMP process. This includes the land use planning work done by First Nations, the funders that helped AWARE keep me at the LRMP table, support from other stakeholders/sectors at the LRMP table, the ENGOs who participated in the Protected Areas Strategy of the 1990s, and the provincial government for its willingness to implement progressive outcomes such as the new Conservancies and Wildland (ie no logging) Zones.

Johnny Mikes

Environment/Conservation Sector Representative during the Sea to Sky LRMP

Whistler-Blackcomb hears you

I would like to respond to the guests and locals who have expressed frustration about their recent ski experience on Blackcomb Mountain. We are extremely apologetic that skiing or riding on Blackcomb this past week did not live up to your expectations. We pride ourselves on delivering a first-rate experience every day of the year. Please be assured that your feedback has been taken to heart.

After reviewing our communications surrounding spring operations, we are aware that we did not effectively describe the impact Peak 2 Peak Gondola and road construction would have on the ski experience. It was not our intention to mislead, and we apologize to everyone who felt this way.

The construction of the Peak 2 Peak Gondola signifies the beginning of a very exciting chapter for Whistler-Blackcomb, and the entire resort. The gondola will revolutionize the winter and summer experience at Whistler-Blackcomb, and is expected to enhance every single person’s visit to our resort; whether you are a skier/rider or a sightseer. Our construction timelines are extremely tight. Work had to begin as soon as we transitioned to spring operations in order to open this December for the winter season, hence the road needed to be ploughed immediately. This is a one-time construction project — it will not happen again with such a massive impact.

We believe we still offer great spring skiing and riding on the terrain that’s open. Even with closures, Blackcomb Mountain is currently offering over 2,000 acres of terrain. With a base of over two metres, the skiing and riding through to June 8 will still be great.

We appreciate all your comments and your ongoing support of our efforts. Your opinions are extremely important to us, and we hope that you will bear with us through this construction period as we work to improve the mountain experience for years to come.

Dave Brownlie

President

Whistler-Blackcomb

Drop out, Whistler U

While I haven't been fond of many of the council’s decisions lately I applaud their stance on the proposed University of Whistler.

There is already Quest University in Squamish, we do not need a university up here! We do not have enough rental suites as it is and we definitely have enough new construction cluttering up the valley.

Please voice your opposition to this and make sure they understand this is not in the best interest of the community, it is in the best interest of the shareholders. We need to make the environment a priority up here as it is the reason people visit.

If these “educators” really cared about Whistler they would work with Quest on developing programs and drop their bid to build here.

K. Thomson

Whistler

Priorities and semantics

After attending Thursday’s open house on the Lot 1/9 development, I found myself with more misgivings than answers.

I have to admit that my interest in Lot 1/9 was initially piqued by comments made when a petition, which I had signed, was submitted to council. A great deal was made about the comments on the amount of trees to be cleared, and whether or not the medals plaza was to be “temporary” or permanent. As a signatory of this petition, I felt these comments to be directed, in a way, to me personally. It’s disingenuous to dismiss or downplay a petition signed by 10 per cent of the population based on perceived inaccuracies in the preamble.

Looking at the drawings on display at the library on Thursday, and assuming that the drawings are at least mostly to scale, there is going to be a strip of the original forest left along Blackcomb Way between the clinic’s helipad and going to about two thirds of the way to the entrance to the Brew Pub’s underground parking. This group of trees will be approximately the size of the building where The Escape Route is located, and will shrink to about half that size after the service buildings included in Phase III are built.   Although the drawings show a larger forest in the Phase III drawings, they include both original and reforested areas without distinction. While it’s a given that all the trees will not be removed, I think it would be fair to say that they would be “removing almost all four acres trees from Lot 1/9”.

The actual medals plaza is going to be a large open space in the middle of Lot 1/9. After the Olympics, as part of Phase II, the paving bricks will be pulled up, and the area will be sodded and re-forested. After the Olympics are finished, the medals plaza will cease to be. The statement “temporary medals plaza” is, in my opinion, accurate.

Whistler cannot afford another large, open-ended capital project of questionable value. Transit buses are falling apart around passengers and are being taken off the road for serious safety issues. At the same time, money has been lavished on things like massive cost overruns on the library, and most galling of all a $250,000 roof over the Nesters recycling depot. Imagine what $250,000 would have bought in maintenance for the bus fleet?

David Buzzard

Whistler

Keeping Neil’s legacy alive

I want to thank Dusty's Bar and Grill and all the people who supported the Neil Falkner Outward Bound Memorial Scholarship Fund on Saturday, April 12th.

I came up to Whistler on the sixth anniversary of my son Neil's death below the Balfour Peak in the Alberta Rockies. Neil was a popular Whistler Ski Patroller and friend to many of you in Whistler. Neil's friends and I started a fund five years ago to send deserving youth on Outward Bound Wilderness expeditions because that experience for Neil, in 1987, had been a hugely positive influence in his life and led to his love of skiing, the wilderness and powder snow.

We've been sending kids from East Vancouver and from the Whistler/Pemberton area each year, with funds accumulated from grassroots fundraisers that bring friends, family and community together for fun and to raise awareness of the programs. Some of you will remember the Annual BBQ and Putting Tournament held in Whistler for four years starting in 2003. That run, unfortunately, ended last year.

Neil’s friends in Whistler who helped establish this fund and have worked tirelessly for it are currently also working tirelessly with young families, university and new businesses. We’re still looking at ways to raise funds in the Whistler area. While we managed to raise a total of $1,400 towards the Clayoquot Strathcona Multi-Element Discovery program for a 16-18 year old in the Sea to Sky area, it's not enough to cover the approximately $4,200 cost.

However, because we raised the money in Whistler, we want to put that money towards a program for a Whistler-area youth. We're hoping we can find a partner, or partners to make up the rest.

The program includes sea kayaking in Clayoquot Sound and climbing some of Vancouver Island’s highest peaks on an amazing multi-element 21-day program. Participants will backpack, mountaineer, camp, rock climb, kayak, learn team work, safety, navigation and rescue skills and have time for solo reflection. These teens develop self-confidence and motivation through personal challenge and group participation. Students completing this program are eligible for a high school credit.

Any individual or organization that would be interested in making this program available to a youth in the Whistler area, please contact me for more details. Visit our website at www.neilfalknerlegacy.ca to find out more about the kids who have benefitted and read excerpts of their testimonies and experiences.

We're also eager for ideas to continue raising funds in the Whistler area so that we can continue providing this opportunity to youth in the Sea to Sky corridor. Anyone who has ideas or energy can contact me through the website.

Thanks again to all who supported the fund in all the wonderful ways that Whistler folk do.

Judy Lynne

Gibsons, B.C.

Still skinny skiing

I would like to say a big thank you to Brad Sills and the staff at Callaghan Country for continuing to groom their spectacular trails "weekends 'til June". The ability to skate ski up to the treeline through what feels like remote wilderness is amazing. You help keep the passion for cross-country skiing alive.

I hope that in future years Whistler Olympic Park will find a way to keep their trails accessible to the public after grooming officially ceases (like Lost Lake), rather than tilling them up.

I understand that there is construction going on this spring but it is disappointing to be locked out of WOP as a member of the Whistler Nordics when Nordic teams from around the world are training there throughout May.

All in all, it's been an awesome season for skinny skiers, with the three Nordic areas for us to choose from. With so much snow still in the Callaghan Valley it's difficult to think about biking!

Again Brad, thanks a lot; see you this weekend!

Tobi Henderson

Whistler

Cowboys rock

Re: Mike and Manny's Cowboy Camp

My son was fortunate enough this week to be invited to the first Cowboy Camp, held by Mike Janyk and Manuel Osborne-Paradis.

Thank you to Mike and Manny, to their families, the other coaches, the sponsors and everyone else involved who helped make this happen.

Living and skiing with these guys for four days was an unbelievable experience. The skills learned, the friends and contacts made, the motivation, the commitment by everyone... none will be forgotten.

Mike and Manny, you guys rock!

Char and Kai Riess

Seal hunt propaganda

While spending a week in Whistler during WSSF, I was dismayed to read Paul Carlucci’s column "Getting angry for the wrong reasons". He seemed to be buying into your government's propaganda regarding the seal hunt.

So he used to live in Labrador, Paul Watson grew up in Eastern Canada. Carlucci compared the seal hunt with your beer getting warm. Wow, one way to trivialize the brutality of this hunt. The whole world seems to condemn it, yet he’s making excuses for it. Is he even aware how much the Canadian taxpayer is shelling out for this travesty?

To blame the seals for the decline in the cod population is ludicrous at best. What exactly does the rape of an African woman have to do with a seal getting his head bashed in? Yes, the world is a sinister place teeming with violence. Belittling the cruelty in killing hundreds of thousands of seals is beyond words.

Carlucci romanticizes the sealers as “hardy folks”. In my world, Paul Watson and his crew are heroes. What has Carlucci done lately to put his life on the line, as they do confronting Japanese whalers in the harsh Antarctic ocean? He calls Paul Watson “a seafaring environmental type”, implying that his life has reached a level of luxury so high some of us no longer see much value in it.

Do you know anything about Watson other than what you heard on Canadian TV? He is a cofounder of Greenpeace, who grew weary of Greenpeace being preoccupied with raising funds and not really doing anything constructive. Greenpeace even refuses to cooperate with Sea Shepherd in Antarctica.

"Get angry for the right reason"? Yes, millions of us are angry for the right reasons. The right reasons being the right of seals to live, of exposing the hypocrisy of the Japanese whalers citing “research”, of protecting the oceans. To quote Michael Franti, "I know I'm not alone".

I have lived in Eastern Canada and now live across the border in Washington state. I spend much time in Whistler. I find most people in British Columbia very enlightened, so Carlucci’s skewed view came as quite a shock to me. I now question my spending any money in Whistler, not wanting to support your corrupt government in any way. The arrogance of seizing a Dutch vessel in international waters is beyond belief.

Liz Enger

Enumclaw, Wa.




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