2022: A Year in Review (Part 2)

In July, Dallas led BCSPCA rescuers to her nine puppies at an Agassiz property. All 10 dogs are thriving following the summer rescue. (Photo/BCSPCA)In July, Dallas led BCSPCA rescuers to her nine puppies at an Agassiz property. All 10 dogs are thriving following the summer rescue. (Photo/BCSPCA)
Taylor Starr and Don Froese of Seabird Island are two of four explorers on a journey to find Slumach’s gold – and so much more – in History Channel’s “Deadman’s Curse.” (Photo/History Channel)Taylor Starr and Don Froese of Seabird Island are two of four explorers on a journey to find Slumach’s gold – and so much more – in History Channel’s “Deadman’s Curse.” (Photo/History Channel)
In late November, Sts’ailes Chief Ralph Leon and MLA Kelli Paddon pose before cutting the ceremonial ribbon, heralding the opening of the Chehalis River Bridge. (Adam Louis/Observer)In late November, Sts’ailes Chief Ralph Leon and MLA Kelli Paddon pose before cutting the ceremonial ribbon, heralding the opening of the Chehalis River Bridge. (Adam Louis/Observer)

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.

Mother dog leads SPCA officials to newborn pups at Agassiz property

July 7, 2022

Dallas is a four-year-old pit bull cross who appeared to have been abandoned and left to fend for herself on a property near Agassiz, where she gave birth to nine puppies.

B.C. SPCA spokesperson Eileen Drever stated Dallas immediately met an animal protection officer at the property, leading the officer through 500 feet of thick brush, where the officer discovered a den the new mother created for her puppies. The officer put the puppies in a small crate and hiked back out to the road with Dallas close behind. Dallas and her puppies were transported to the B.C. SPCA in Chilliwack.

“We would never have found these puppies if Dallas hadn’t led us there,” Drever stated. “She is an amazing mom who knew her puppies needed help.”

It was later discovered that Dallas belonged to the property owner, who believed the dog had been a victim of predators after she’d disappeared. Drever said the owner voluntarily surrendered Dallas, knowing he couldn’t provide for Dallas and all the puppies.

Veterinarians indicated Dallas was underweight and placed her on a feeding program to get her weight back to normal. The puppies are healthy, and Dallas and her litter are in a foster home.

Kent Mayor Sylvia Pranger wins second term by acclamation

September 16, 2022

For a second straight four-year term, District of Kent Mayor Sylvia Pranger has won by acclamation.

She is one of 37 mayors in the province to win this election cycle by standing unopposed.

Pranger called winning by acclamation “very humbling.”

“First of all, I want to thank the community for its support,” she told The Observer. “I will continue to work hard (with) council to bring services to our beautiful community. It has been a real pleasure working with council and staff for the last four years. Winning by acclamation is a great feeling and will encourage me to work harder for everyone in our community.”

According to past election data from Civic Info B.C., the district has a history of mayors winning by acclamation. Lorne Fisher won by acclamation in 2008 with John Van Laerhoven standing unopposed in 2011. Van Laerhoven’s second term as mayor was contested when he defeated Ken Schwaerzle 821 votes to 559. The following term, Pranger won as mayor by acclamation.

Agassiz-Harrison remembers the Queen

September 16, 2022

Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon MP Brad Vis called Thursday “a somber day in Canada” in his statement on the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday, Sept. 8.

Vis said from the day she ascended to the throne more than 70 years ago, the longest-living monarch in British history “has been a beacon of hope and optimism.”

“As is the case for most Canadians, Her Majesty is the only monarch I have ever known,” Vis wrote. “It was Queen Elizabeth II who signed the Constitution Act in 1982, granting Canada full autonomy over our Constitution and implementing the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

In a written statement to The Observer, Chilliwack-Kent MLA Kelli Paddon said she would remember the Queen as “a constant example of steadfast and committed leadership, and as someone dedicated to the service of people.”

“I am saddened by the news today of the passing of the Queen,” she stated. “My heart and thoughts go out to all of us who are touched by this loss, and most especially her family.”

A statement from the District of Kent expressed gratitude for Queen Elizabeth II’s “decades of faithful service to the Comonwealth.”

All schools in Fraser-Cascade School District 78 will be closed on Monday, Sept. 19, in observance of the national day of mourning to mark the funeral of the Queen.

“We are saddened to announce the passing of Queen Elizabeth II this morning,” school board chair Linda Kerr and superintendent Balan Moorthy wrote in a joint statement. “As Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada and the Commonwealth, she will be remembered as the longest reigning monarch in British history.”

Journey for truth in ‘Deadman’s Curse’ worth its weight in gold

September 30, 2022

History Channel’s “Deadman’s Curse” is about more than finding gold. For Don Froese and his daughter Taylor Starr – two explorers from the Seabird Island community – the epic journey is also about good medicine and closure.

“Deadman’s Curse” follows four explorers – Chilliwack mountaineer Adam Palmer, prospector Kru Williams, Froese and Starr – as they search for Slumach’s gold. The legend goes there is a “place deposit” of gold in the Pitt Lake area that is worth untold millions, and a Katzie First Nations man by the name of Slumach was the only one who knew of its location.

Slumach was convicted of killing a man named Louis Bee in the early 1890s. Before he was hanged, he is said to have delivered a curse:

“Nika memloose, mine memloose”, roughly translated from Chinook as “when I die, the mine dies.”

Starr is the great-great-niece of Slumach. She’s determined to sort fact from fiction when it comes to who Slumach was.

“(Deadman’s Curse) has a personal connection to me,” Starr said. “I’m diving into who (Slumach) was and why his name was portrayed the way it was as well as what he found. I want closure for Slumach and finally put to rest who he was and why he did the things he did.”

Will the team from “Deadman’s Curse” ever find the legendary gold? While it may not be the final destination for some of the explorers, Froese said it’s bound to happen.

“I think if we do find gold, it’s going to cross our path,” Froese said. “We can’t go the places we’re going and not bump into something, and that something might be the colour gold.”

New Chehalis River Bridge a concrete symbol of reconiliation between B.C., Sts’ailes

December 2, 2022

A bridge spanning the mighty Chehalis River is much more than a solid piece of infrastructure.

The Sts’ailes First Nation welcomed members of the provincial government to an opening ceremony of the new Morris Valley Road bridge spanning the Chehalis River on Friday, Nov. 25.

The province started building the new bridge in mid-July. The new bridge replaced a single-lane, wooden bridge that stood the test of time for more than 70 years. Expanding to a two-lane bridge and replacing the wood structure with a more modern version creates safer, improved access to the Sts’ailes First Nation, Hemlock Valley residents and visitors to the area.

Sts’ailes Elder Nancy Charlie (traditional name Sel Ya:al) thanked the guests for their work.

“Thank you for what you bring here – your strong spirit, knowing and understanding that the respect is given to us,” she said. “(The new bridge) is something that was needed. We were just crossing the bridge the other day, my husband and I, and my husband said ‘Who would ever think this would be here today?’”

CAO and chief negotiator Willie Charlie said the bridge is so much more than a piece of infrastructure.

“When we talk about in today’s day and age about reconciliation, improving relationships with First Nations, this project should be used as an example,” Charlie said. He said the bridge connected an ancient village site on the south side of Chehalis Lake to the larger community. Interpretive signage is in the near future that will explain to visitors the significance of the site.

Paddon delivered some words on behalf of the new premier David Eby and the Minister of Transportation Rob Fleming.

“There’s so much good work being done here, and this bridge will support that work,” Paddon said. “It was well past time to deliver on this, and I’m very honoured to be here to celebrate with everyone because it’s done, and the work is beautiful.”

agassizHarrison Hot SpringsYear in Review