2022: A Year In Review (Part 1)

Back in March, students from Harrison Hot Springs Elementary marched in protest to the Russian invasion of Ukraine to raise awareness and funds for humanitarian aid. (Adam Louis/Observer)Back in March, students from Harrison Hot Springs Elementary marched in protest to the Russian invasion of Ukraine to raise awareness and funds for humanitarian aid. (Adam Louis/Observer)
Back in mid-June, the garden patch outside the Aberdeen Building in Agassiz was decorated to look like Montana as “Big Sky River” filmed along Pioneer Avenue. (Adam Louis/Observer)Back in mid-June, the garden patch outside the Aberdeen Building in Agassiz was decorated to look like Montana as “Big Sky River” filmed along Pioneer Avenue. (Adam Louis/Observer)
Back in mid-June, the garden patch outside the Aberdeen Building in Agassiz was decorated to look like Montana as “Big Sky River” filmed along Pioneer Avenue. (Adam Louis/Observer)
B.C. Soccer Hall of Famer and proud Sts’ailes athlete Terry Felix recently received the Indspire Award this June, which is among the highest honours the Canadian Indigenous community can bestow. (Contributed Photo/Debbie Felix)Back in mid-June, the garden patch outside the Aberdeen Building in Agassiz was decorated to look like Montana as “Big Sky River” filmed along Pioneer Avenue. (Adam Louis/Observer) B.C. Soccer Hall of Famer and proud Sts’ailes athlete Terry Felix recently received the Indspire Award this June, which is among the highest honours the Canadian Indigenous community can bestow. (Contributed Photo/Debbie Felix)

In this end of the year edition of The Observer, we’re taking a look back at the top 10 stories of 2022. In chronological order, a number of these stories are among the most read of the year, according to data from our website.

‘Angels among us’: neighbours, firefighters save Agassiz couple from carbon monoxide poisoning

January 18, 2022

If it wasn’t for a winter power outage and some quick thinking from neighbours, Agassiz couple Doug and Verna Platt may have died.

Unknown to the Platts at the time, their heater was damaged, causing a carbon monoxide leak into the home. The couple felt sick on Thursday, Jan. 6 – dealing with dizziness, nausea and headaches, spending most of the day in bed as a result. Verna said at the time, they chalked the symptoms up to the flu or food poisoning; it didn’t seem to be COVID-19 based on the symptoms.

The next morning, they called their neighbour, Chelsey Fulford, to give them a hand while they recovered. The power went out due to the winter weather, so Fulford brought over a lantern, a battery to charge their phones and some food for the Platts.

Just to be safe, Fulford gave the couple a carbon monoxide detector.

At first they thought the detector was faulty as it had gone off before, but they called the Agassiz Fire Department.

“We opened the doors just in case and while I waited for the fire department, I went and profusely apologized to my neighbours, who I could tell were just feeling horrendously awful,” Fulford said. “I told them I was so sorry, but because the alarm was going off I had to call the fire department to double-check it and make sure it was nothing. I couldn’t just ignore it.”

Firefighters told them to leave the house immediately.

The AFD detected 185 ppm of carbon dioxide in the house. Fulford said levels between 150 and 200 were considered extremely high, enough to cause unconsciousness or death.

Province grants Harrison $1 million to expand Visitor Centre, Sasquatch Museum

February 11, 2022

There’s exciting news for tourism in Harrison Hot Springs.

On Friday (Feb. 4), the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport announced $21.3 million in grant funding for 50 shovel-ready tourism projects across the province. This includes $1 million – the maximum funding amount – for the expansion of the Visitor Centre and Sasquatch Museum in Harrison.

Tourism Harrison River Valley executive director Robert Reyerse said an entirely new building for the Visitor Centre and Sasquatch Museum has been a long time coming; Tourism Harrison sent in their application for funding last September. He added the new museum would bring more indoor activities to the Harrison area, where tourism is primarily driven by outdoor activities.

“I’m excited about this because we’ve gone through a really tough few years,” Reyerse said. “Tourism destinations were hit harder than just about any community (during COVID-19).”

Reyerse estimates the museum and visitor centre attracts about 8,000 visitors per year, and COVID-19 restrictions had a significant impact on that number, in no small part due to already tight spacing.

“In terms of the impact of COVID-19, flooding…our community has really gone through a really difficult time,” he added. “This is going to be a huge positive for the community for residents and businesses alike; it’s a legacy project for Harrison, establishing us firmly as Sasquatch capital of the world.”

Multi-million dollar gov’t grants to fund new aquatic centre

April 14, 2022

An upcoming project is about to make a big splash in the Agassiz recreation scene.

On Monday, April 11, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Joyce Murray announced funding for 57 infrastructure projects across the province, including $454,000 in federal funding for the District of Kent Aquatic Centre.

This indoor, year-round aquatic facility would feature a six-lane pool, leisure and whirl pools, sauna and other amenities. It would replace the outdoor, seasonal Ferny Coombe Pool.

Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon MP Brad Vis is “over-the-top happy” to see the aquatic centre take a major step forward, elated at the potential positive impact this will have on the Agassiz-Harrison community. He told The Observer he has been working on this since he was first elected.

“All four levels of government collaborated together to get this done,” Vis said. “It will have a lasting impact for generations to come. Everyone is so excited about it, and it’s such a game-changer for the community. It’s not every day you get a project like this approved. Tax dollars well spent.”

As the picture of the aquatic centre becomes more tangible, it should be noted this is an effort at least 10 years in the making. Back in 2019, District officials promised to put aside $4 million to pay for an indoor aquatic facility; back then, they estimated the new centre would open in 2025. Director of community services Jennifer Thornton said back then that anytime recreation surveys went out into the community, an indoor aquatic centre was high on the list of priorities.

‘Big Sky River’ filming flows through Agassiz

June 15, 2022

Those walking down Pioneer Avenue on Monday afternoon had to do a double-take to make sure they weren’t south of the border.

The Aberdeen Building and portions of Pioneer Avenue were all decked out to look like the fictional Parable County, Montana, as part of the production of a TV movie under the working title “Big Sky River.”

The Aberdeen Building acted as the sheriff’s office, surrounded by police cars, a few townsfolk and uniformed officers with the dual American and Montana flags flying overhead. A large “Sheriff’s Office Parable County” sign covered one of the building’s windows, and even the fliers on the bulletin board were changed to transport the viewer to Montana. Old wooden wagon wheels, worn benches and an abundance of spring flowers completed the set.

The cast and crew were on site for about three hours before disbanding to the next location.

According to Creative B.C., Peter Benson is the director of “Big Sky River.” Benson has nearly 150 acting credits, including the “Aurora Teagarden Mysteries” movie series and “Mech-X4.” This project would mark Benson’s 11th project as director, with previous entries including “The Crossword Mysteries: Terminal Descent” and “The Santa Stakeout.”

Though plot specifics or even a release date has yet to be published, it can be linked to a book of the same name by romance author Linda Lael Miller. “Big Sky River” is the third installment in Miller’s “Parable, Montana” series. This entry follows Sherrif Boone Taylor as his peace and quiet on his ranch is disturbed when Tara Kendall, looking for a new start in love and life, moves in next door.

‘Truly amazing’: Sts’ailes athlete, former Whitecap Terry Felix winds Indspire Award

June 24, 2022

A stellar Sts’ailes First Nation athlete, Olympian and retired Vancouver Whitecap has been recognized with one of the highest honours the nationwide Indigenous community can bestow.

Terry Felix was recently recognized as an Indspire Award Laureate in the sports department. The Indspire Awards recognize Indigenous professionals and youth who demonstrate outstanding success in their fields and as acting as a role model for Indigenous youth, fostering cultural pride and self-esteem.

Felix was the first Indigenous athlete in North America to play professional soccer when he signed on with the Vancouver Whitecaps in 1981.

“We weren’t allowed to play in white tournaments, but there was one tournament in Chilliwack that allowed us to enter, and we played all the best teams,” Felix recalled in a video preceding the Indspire Awards broadcast on June 19. “A Whitecaps scout was at the tournament, so he came up to me and my dad and said ‘Well, Terry, come to Vancouver and try out for the youth team.’”

He remains the only Indigenous person to play for both the Canadian Olympic Team in May 1983 and the Canadian National team in June 1983, starting for both teams and the Whitecaps when he was only 23 years old. His career was tragically cut short after a serious knee injury while training with the Canadian Olympic Team.

After his career as a player ended, Felix became heavily involved in First Nations soccer and coached for 38 years. His legacy of teaching, coaching and mentorship earned him a place in the B.C. Hall of Fame Indigenous Sports Gallery in 2018 and an induction into the B.C. Soccer Hall of Fame in 2020.

“What you’ve achieved and accomplished in your lifetime is truly amazing,” said Peter Felix, Terry’s son, in a video message. “I’m proud of you.”

Back home, Felix served on the Sts’ailes council for 14 years and has been counseling federal inmates for the past 14 years.

agassizHarrison Hot SpringsYear in Review