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Are businesses really concerned?



The steam is pouring from our ears after reading an article in the Province Newspaper dated Thursday, April 21, "Labour-supply strategy is needed/Still little evidence that B.C.'s Skills shortages are being addressed".

We are attaching our letter of invitation to attend an employer information meeting that was held on Wednesday, April 20 from 7 to 9 p. m. The invitation was sent out to all Chamber of Commerce members in Squamish, Whistler, and Pemberton, approximately 1,100 members. You will note our keynote speakers are the Secondary School Apprenticeship Coordinator, Lindsay Langill, from the Ministry of Education and the Director of Client Interests, Sandy Steward from the newly formed Industry Training Authority (ITA). We also advertised in newspapers in both Squamish and Whistler, reaching Pemberton, for two consecutive weeks before this event. The event was broadcast on both community television stations in Squamish and Whistler. The Chief did a community event reporting on this event the week prior and gave us one full page on one side and showcased the Level One Cooks Training Program on another full page beside it. Locally, invitations were hand delivered. Every base was covered. What more could we have done?

The purpose of the meeting was to address the needs of employers for labour-supply, to explain the new changes in the Apprenticeship system and encourage employers to consider hiring apprentices in the hospitality industry and other trades. The evening was showcasing the talents of our secondary school students and our community members who are currently enrolled in our Cooks Apprenticeship Training Level One under the umbrella of our government's new ACE IT Program. The Ministry of Education and ITA are encouraging secondary schools to partner with post secondary school institutions to offer trades training to address the skills shortages. Our secondary school has a state of the art teaching kitchen which we are using full time in order to address the skills shortages in the hospitality industry. We were very surprised that not one business or employer in Whistler or Pemberton and very few in Squamish responded to our invitation. It leads us to question are the businesses really concerned about the skills shortages.

Capilano College, Kwantlen College and Vancouver Community College are now working directly with our trades/technology departments to offer advanced placement in Entry Level Trades Training. As a small secondary school in the Sea to Sky Corridor, we are trying our very best to address the needs of the larger community as 2010 approaches. The missing link is the employers. It would be interesting to ask what more the secondary schools and government could be doing.

Peter Hotston, Principal

Linda Firbank, Teacher Career Programs

Linda McHale, Career Programs Assistant

Howe Sound Secondary School

More mistakes on STV referendum


Unbelievably, a second foul-up has hit the referendum on electoral reform.

In the first episode, every B.C. household received, at government expense, the pamphlet "Making every vote count". It tried to explain the new voting system being proposed, called BC-STV.

Unfortunately, it showed the change in seats if BC-STV had been in place in the last election in a way that looked good but is now realized to be mathematically impossible, leading to fears that even proponents do not understand how the new system would change the political landscape.

Now, with only a month to go, the government's Referendum Information Office has sent every household the pamphlet "Electoral Reform Referendum".

Unfortunately, it begins by describing the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform, which came up with BC-STV, incorrectly: "The Assembly was composed of one man and one woman, randomly selected from each of the province's 79 electoral districts".

This was not done. Rather, the members were randomly selected from the tiny proportion of the population that was interested in taking part in the Assembly. On May 17 we decide whether we agree with these enthusiastic reformers.

To confound matters further, the pamphlet listed features of the present and proposed voting systems but failed to clearly describe what some consider BC-STV's biggest advantage, its reduction of vote wastage and vote splitting worries.

These miscommunications put the discussion of voting reform at risk. Readers can learn more about BC-STV at internet sites such as (for) and (against).

Dr. Max Anderson

Chair, Committee on Voting Equity in BC

Another former meth user shares her story


I noticed from friends who I remain in contact with that The Chief and the town has recently begun what seems to be a meth awareness campaign. Please as part of my battle I hope you can print this letter of my experience with meth as an apology to those I hurt while I lived there. Please help me heal....

I spent four years in this town and the first year and a half completely oblivious to meth then someone turned me on. The following two and half years became a mess...Anita and Neil are my friends and my story is not unlike theirs. I moved away the beginning of February this year and since then I have been clean. I wish to venture back and visit my true friends, but you see this drug became the very best friend I had there. With no family or support I allowed it to become that and I am afraid it will come and find me should I return.

I have always been the type to walk a razor's edge with addiction, recreationally indulge in illegal drugs and party and have a good time. Not this time. This time if I didn't leave or quit or make a change I was going to die literally. With other drugs you know Monday morning is coming and reality is the place to be; however, once I began using meth, the lines of reality and the drug-induced world I was living in were becoming blurred quite rapidly. I graduated high school as valedictorian and top of my class from a private Catholic school in Ontario, chose to skip college for the time being and head out west to find myself; escape the perils of my blue collar world of factory and drinking and cocaine and see the beautiful west coast.

I, like many others, wanted so bad to have a purpose and inspiration in my heart. But ignorant me on my quest let something evil override that quest - meth.

Among other triggering circumstances I found this world, where people stay up all night, the girls are thin and every day is a gamble. That almost sounds like Vegas to a functional person what a fun vacation. I am not talking of Vegas; I am talking about meth. I was looking for a vacation from the pain in my life, so I jumped in and indulged. It is amazing, the false closeness drug abusers can create with themselves.

In the beginning the euphoric stage I call it, it was great. I felt I had family, purpose among people, I even felt love that was unconditional from one common user who later became my boyfriend.

The high of the drug combined with this emotional tightness meant to me that I would do anything to protect it to get it and to keep it coming, a far cry from that girl who was valedictorian.

I had strong values. I didn't believe in lying, stealing to survive or ratting people out or beating them up inside or out. The only thing the drug kept intact with that foundation of morals was not ratting people out; everything else was compromised. I even had a handful of people who knew the real me or knew me as this evil transition was taking place who tried to help, and I fought harder than any fight in my life to stay in this numbing fog! I hurt these people probably unconsolably. That didn't matter at the time though; they didn't use, they didn't know what we were about, they were the enemy, not he drug (yes, paranoia provides a great block from people who try to intervene).

Pretty soon all that I had worked for, my $10,000 line of credit that I earned on my own by the age of 21 through steady work and sometimes two jobs at a time, the car I purchased with no co-signer, the apartment that I rented, the assets I acquired, they all were slipping away fast. I even resorted to renting out my car to mutual friends in order to put gas in it or meet the already behind payments, I was homeless and reduced to a duffel bag of clothes. My 125-lb body was broken down to 90 lbs, I was cheating, lying and stealing to survive with meth. The week before Christmas I had suffered a kidney infection so severe from malnutrition and dehydration that my kidneys along with my soul were shutting down. (Yes, meth even takes away the simplicities of life that normally sustain you and keep you balanced, such as sleep and food).

Even at this point I could not quit on my own. Christmas morning with no family and pretty much no healthy people left around me I was getting high again by myself, chopping that line that someone had left for me to get through with until they returned. I hadn't eaten again or slept for probably three or four days. I was so embarrassed as I did this that when my cell phone rang and I saw it was my mother I couldn't even answer it on Christmas.

Then after two or maybe three weeks of continued use sleeping and eating maybe one out of seven days, the final chapter of this dope opera gave way beneath me. I had a dream in which my deceased brother talked to me from a morgue table... I don't know if it was a sign or induced hallucination or what, but he warned me to change - quick, please, he begged from his corpse.

I did, and I did it the only way I knew how; to go back and start from where the pain had started and begin to fight it head on sober. I went home.

I am very sorry to all those I hurt, please forgive me someday please.

The name of the writer, a former Squamish resident, has been withheld by request.

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