The many students who attended 70 Mile Elementary School are its main legacy.
The friendships, memories and sense of community formed by students, parents, staff and volunteers are a further legacy.
“70 Mile Elementary was such a big part of our community,” says Robin Rusaw.
To continue the legacy, a few area residents started the 70 Mile & Area Community Fund.
“This fund is a lasting legacy for the community and its residents who gave so much of their time and support over the years to our small school.”
When the school closed in 2000, there was slightly more than $3,000 left in the Parent Advisory Committee and cross-country ski club funds. These funds had been held in trust by the Seventy Mile Access Centre until the 70 Mile School Memorial Committee was formed to investigate ways to use the money to continue the legacy of the 70 Mile School.
The money, supplemented by memorial funds for former student Joel Curson and donations from various groups, businesses and individual community members (past and present) was deposited to a special fund in the Kamloops Foundation – now called the BC Interior Foundation). Since then fundraising and further donations have further increased the fund.
“My overall feeling is that this whole fund and process is a soulful and respectful activity to honour a community and its past, present and, hopefully, future residents,” says Dennis Tupman.
The original committee formed the 70 Mile & Area Community Fund Society to oversee the fund.
In 2014, with the support of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, $9525.69 of the fund received a matching grant from Northern Development Initiative Trust.
There may be an opportunity for a further grant to match funds raised in 2015.
Each year, in perpetuity, the interest earned by the fund will be used to offer a bursary to support furthering education or skills development for people of any age living in the school’s catchment area or having a close connection to the area – Watch, Green and Pressy lakes, 70 Mile, 83 Mile and surrounding areas.
When sufficient funds are available, more bursaries can be offered or grants for community enhancement can be offered to organizations within the greater community.
In 2013, the first bursary was awarded to Laura Dewar who is pursuing a PhD at Simon Fraser University with a research project investigating the genetic causes of sudden unexpected death in young people.
In 2014, the second bursary was awarded to Kathryne Cunningham to begin her first year in bachelor of Natural Resource Science at Thompson Rivers University.
The application deadline for the 2015 bursary is April 30, 2015.
Applications through a letter of 300-500 words, stating goals, educational plans, and your connection to the area can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to the 70 Mile & Area Fund; c/o S. Wheeler; Box 29; 70 Mile House, B.C.; V0K 2K0.