Daniela Ginta, The Mindful Writer

Freelance Writer and Photographer, Author of the Mindfulness Blog

Category: Armchair Mayor Column Page 2 of 27

Weekly Column: Search and Rescue Funding Must Be Included In Provincial Budget Planning

Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on Monday, February 25 2019.

I have never been in a situation where I had to be rescued by one of the SAR groups in our province. But like everyone else, I have been hearing and reading a lot of stories about people needing rescuing from all sorts of sticky situations, including the recent one of the snow-biker near Lumby. While unfortunately not all of them have a happy ending, the fact remains: Search and Rescue volunteers are out doing everything they can.

Our local group, Kamloops Search and Rescue KSAR, had 42 calls last year and 72 multi-day searches, amounting to 3500 hours. That’s a lot of time away from home, family, work, or sleep (for some volunteers it is all of them combined.)

I wrote about it before – either arguing for the need to know what we’re heading into when we make plans to be in the great outdoors, no matter the season, and recently about the heartless break-ins at the Nicola Valley Search and Rescue compound.

Lately there has been a string of new stories involving various Search & Rescue groups. Every time a story like that shows in the news, we have to remember two things: that this is a free service by volunteers who put a lot of time and energy into it, both during training (not a one-time thing) and when called out for a mission.

The recent post-budget conversations have been diverse and, to be fair, we have yet to see a calm ending to the budget communications. There is always room for better, to put it kindly. Needs are constantly increasing and they are growing more diverse as the population increases; there is hardly a sector that will say they have enough to cover everything.

But when I read that so far, no money has been set aside for the SAR groups across the province, it made me uncomfortable. Let’s hope it is an oversight that will be corrected as soon as possible. Many people’s lives have been saved by these people and many people’s loved ones have been retrieved from treacherous circumstances where few of us would venture.

The calls have increased dramatically in the last years. From people seeking adventures in the backcountry, to people suffering from dementia who are getting lost, the calls keep coming and they are answered. Selfless is the word.

To be sure, we are not talking about a handful of volunteers doing what they can when they can. According to BCSARA, there are 2500 SAR volunteers in 80 SAR groups across the province, who are completing over 1700 tasks a year. There are prevention programs in place too, in collaboration with Adventure Smart. Since we are at it, please note that there is an Adventure Smart Trip Plan app, available free of charge on iPhones and Android phones.

Neither training nor rescue missions can be done without money. But… funds will run out on March 31st, unless the province reconsiders. Let’s hope they do. Because if these people live with the belief that every life and every call matter, no one should tell them otherwise.

From a practical perspective, the less time is spent fundraising, the more is available for the training and rescue. An important detail about fundraising for these groups as it appears on the British Columbia Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA): ‘Neither the BCSARA, nor the Search and Rescue groups recognized by the province as part of the Public Safety Lifeline solicit funding by telephone.’ Yes, there are some out there who are not afraid of bad karma and occasionally they call and ask for donations to support ‘search and rescue’ groups. SAR group never solicit by phone – please spread the word about this heartless scam.

Let’s hope the provincial government will reconsider and correct the oversight. If not, I believe we should all be ready to help as much as we can to ensure that funds are in place for these services to continue to exist. I cannot imagine a day when a SAR group would be forced to reconsider a mission due to lack of funds. Let’s make sure it never happens.

Weekly Column: Is This The Kind Of World We Want To Live In?

Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on February 19, 2019. 

Here’s the thing: I never envisioned that students and teachers at a Kamloops school could be the target of a deadly plot. When the explanatory email came from the school district, I read it twice and shook my head. Students had a hard time processing all of it.

Who were those two youths who got so lost from their humanity to lean towards wanting to hurt and even kill people? Peace of mind can only be broken once; afterwards you’re jumpier than usual.

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Weekly Column: It Is High Time We End Mental Health Stigma

Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on February 11, 2019. 

It’s almost a year since I encountered human pain in a way that I never thought I would and there is rarely a day I do not think of it, more so because it happened in the place I go for mornings hikes with the dog. A young person had decided to end their life and that grey, cloudy morning was draped in heartbreaking, haunting silence. It is impossible to imagine the mental pain of making that decision, and impossible to imagine the pain of loved ones left behind.

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Weekly Column: The Social Media Platforms vs. People: A Case of Suffering Ethics

Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on January 4, 2019. 

In theory, it sounds nice: make a social media platform where friends and family can stay in touch by sharing life bits and photos; organize get-togethers and spread the word about good things happening. That is what Facebook looked like from a distance back when it started. To be fair, so did other social media platforms.

It took me a while to be convinced to hop onboard with Facebook at the insistence of friends across the world who wanted to stay connected. That was back in 2009. Even so, I was reluctant to share much. I was and still am too enamoured with the real world. Virtual sharing just doesn’t do it.

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Weekly Column: Let’s Include Financial Literacy In Our Children’s Education

Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on January 28, 2019. 

Here’s some sobering news from a recent article in The Globe and Mail: 46 percent of Canadians are within $200 from financial insolvency at each month-end. Blame it on higher interest rates, but also on less than desirable financial literacy.

In October of last year, a survey by debt consolidation firm BDO Canada revealed that approximately 3 in 10 Canadians do not have enough money to buy the things they need. They still buy them in the end but getting deeper into debt. Among those who carry debt, the average non-mortgage debt hovers around $20,000.

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Weekly Column: There Should Be Grace And Decency In the Public Political Discourse

Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on January 14, 2019. 

Saturday morning started with a good amount of sunshine and blue skies. I hiked and took in the fresh air and the beautiful landscape, and spent some time remembering Cindy Ross Friedman, whom I got to meet for coffee and chats many times after moving to Kamloops and whose celebration of life service I was to attend later in the day. Gone too soon, she had a spark like no other.

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Weekly Column: Climate Change Challenges Will Never Be Solved With Cat Doors

Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on January 7, 2019. 

If you want to chuckle, check out the amusing story of how a $2,000 cat door installed in a West Vancouver home can help fight climate change (embedded in the $3 million home it belongs too.) To be fair, the article has some good information on passive houses, or net-zero homes, but you might find yourself jaded by the time you get to the part where the 11-foot windows are described (shipped from Europe, they were.) Carbon footprint applies to the whole product and the processes involved in building it, no?

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