The long, strange experience that was 2020 is coming to a close. In the Cariboo-Chilcotin, where we have weathered more than our fair share of challenges in recent years, COVID-19 felt like the final straw. Fires, flooding, economic downturns for major industries, and now a global pandemic. Quite a burden for our region to bear. Is it reason to lose hope? I don’t think so. Despite all that we have endured, I see excellent reasons to look forward with anticipation and backward with pride.
In the past year ‘Cariboo Strong’ was much more than just a slogan. Everywhere you looked, our community stepped up to help those who needed it most. I saw neighbours helping neighbours, care and consideration for the most vulnerable in our region, and citizens of the Cariboo Chilcotin young and old doing what needed to be done, without expectation of recognition and reward.
Those acts of giving are something we celebrate every Christmas. In 2020 however, we have the opportunity to turn seasonal generosity into an ongoing commitment to care and compassion. While it certainly wasn’t a year-long holiday, especially for those who have borne the brunt of the pandemic’s economic and social impacts, this year has been an opportunity to reflect on what is most important. Family, friends, good health, and strong ties to our community. All these sustain us, in good times and bad. Now they are more important than ever. I hope those in need will find the resources they require. I believe those with the time and energy to assist will be here to help in the year to come.
For your elected representatives on the Cariboo Regional District and Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District boards, 2020 has been a year where we have sought a balance between stability in the present and opportunities for the future. We know the Cariboo-Chilcotin is experiencing rapid change. Resource, ranching, and agricultural industries face global competition and tough market conditions. The businesses we look to for tomorrow’s opportunities, such as tourism, struggle to adapt to new realities.
How easy it is to look back fondly — to a time when six feet was not a yardstick for safety, and social distancing an unknown concept. But we are not afforded that opportunity. We cannot go backwards. We cannot stand still. We must chart a course for the future. Your CRD directors are committed to this task.
So, we come to the end of a year most of us would prefer not to remember but aren’t soon to forget. Once again the Cariboo-Chilcotin has withstood a storm, emerging battered and bruised, but still standing tall. Let the strength we demonstrated last year become the standard we aspire to in 2021.
On behalf of the Cariboo Regional District’s board and staff, I wish you a Happy New Year, with peace, health, and good fortune for all.
Margo Wagner is Area H Director and Chair of the Cariboo Regional District