On my drive home, I see a mountain in the Telkwa Range just south of the Bulkley Valley. Every time I see that mountain I think, Now there’s a survivor! I’m not referring to the mountain, strictly speaking, but what’s eroding out of it on the other side.
If you were a bear going over that mountain, what would you see? If you were a very clever bear with a GPS, you would find a prehistoric singularity, perhaps the only one of its kind in the world. It predates mammoths. It predates most dinosaurs. It even predates the continents. It is a fossilized coral reef, remnants of one of the earliest, and perhaps the only reef to survive the Triassic-Jurassic extinction event approximately 200 million years ago.
The cause of that extinction is still debated: climate change, asteroids, massive volcanic eruptions. Whatever the cause, over a period of just 10,000 years more than half of Earth’s life became extinct, including most corals. But not our corals. What remains on the other side of that mountain is evidence of an ancient survivor from an arc of tropical islands in the ancestral Pacific Ocean, then located near the equator. And it’s practically in our backyard.
The proof that we northerners are survivors is right there. The stuff that makes us tuff is not in the air or the water. It’s in the rocks.
The physical evidence of this fossil reef—right there where I can almost see it—makes me inexplicably happy and hopeful. It also works as a metaphor for surviving change, something that resonates across this region right now.
Economically, businesses are holding their breath to see which changes will happen with LNG, Site C, oil tankers on the coast, mining development, even the US election—just a few of the events that may impact cash flow across the region in one way or another.
Climate change is a significant player that is affecting our forests, first decimating pine stocks and now possibly threatening our aspens. Streams are warming up and drying up, affecting our salmon runs.Glaciers are melting. Creepy-crawlies are migrating.
But, change isn’t all bad—and we are resilient, after all. Tourism is flourishing (got to see those glaciers before they’re gone). Historic sites, such as the Port Edward canneries, are being revived and First Nations exhibits in northern museums satisfy those in search of enlightenment. Fossil aficionados are travelling north to see dinosaur remains in Tumbler Ridge and they can explore the new Global Geopark while they’re there.
The resource industry can also respond to changing public concerns with some pretty amazing innovations. Just ask Harvey Tremblay at Hy-Tech Drilling about his new closed-loop drilling centrifuge that reduces fresh water usage by up to 90 percent.
We roll with the punches because we’re survivors. And, we’re still here—which begs the question, “Why are we here?” In many cases, it’s the same as asking, “Why are we here?”
Which, of course, brings me to Hunter S. Thompson and his thoughts on finding purpose in life:
...a man must choose a path which will let his ABILITIES function at maximum efficiency toward the gratification of his DESIRES. In doing this, he is fulfilling a need (giving himself identity by functioning in a set pattern toward a set goal), he avoids frustrating his potential (choosing a path which puts no limit on his self-development), and he avoids the terror of seeing his goal wilt or lose its charm as he draws closer to it (rather than bending himself to meet the demands of that which he seeks, he has bent his goal to conform to his own abilities and desires).
In short, he has not dedicated his life to reaching a pre-defined goal, but he has rather chosen a way of life he KNOWS he will enjoy. The goal is absolutely secondary: it is the functioning toward the goal which is important.
Or, as he put it more succinctly:
Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life.
When I decided to move back to the valley after a time away, I didn’t have a job waiting for me. I decided that this was where and how I wanted to live and that I would work at whatever I could find to support that desire. Fortunately, I’ve been lucky enough to immerse myself in Northword—work that gets what we all love about this northerly place. And I hope I will always be so lucky, wherever I am on life’s path.
Like our Jurassic reef, we survivors of change know a good place to make a stand during changing times. It’s called “right here.”