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The Softwood Lumber Dispute — January 20, 2018

The Softwood Lumber Dispute

Submitted by Veronica

Canada and the US have had a turbulent history of lumber trade, dating back as far as the 1800s. For example, in the 1820s, lumber interests was one of the motivators for the Maine-New Brunswick border dispute. Likewise, today, the dispute around the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada and the US centres around softwood lumber trade.

Essentially, this disagreement stems from the fact that Canada and the USA have different structures in our respective forestry sectors. In the USA, the majority of forested land belongs to private owners. Meanwhile, in Canada, most of the land is crown land, that is, belonging to the government. The land is then leased out to companies, who are charged a “stumping fee”. This is decided by each individual province based on a variety of factors. However, the US softwood lumber industry has argued repeatedly that these stumping fees are artificially low in Canada. As a result, they claim Canada is conferring an unfair “subsidy,” which injures the American industry. This issue of conflicting lumber interests has continued to today, featuring four distinct disputes.

Lumber I (1982-1983)

In late 1982, American sawmillers asked the US Department of Commerce (hereafter to be known as Commerce) to investigate the stumpage system in British Columbia and three other provinces. However, the following year, Commerce came to the conclusion that the stumpage fees couldn’t be offset with a new tax (a countervailing duty).

Lumber II (1986-1991)

A second claim from the American industry group led the Commerce to alter its calculations. It found that Canada’s stumpage system had a subsidy of 15%. That is, the government was unfairly granting the lumber industry 15% of the money used. Subsequently, the US and Canada signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which forced Canada to collect a 15% countervailing duty on all lumber exported from the country. Though this duty remained, Canada eventually terminated the MOU.

Lumber III (1992-2001)

After the MOU was terminated, Commerce initiated a new investigation into the countervailing duty, and concluded that it was against the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (since replaced by the World Trade Organization), which regulated trade between countries. They claimed that BC and three other provinces had unfair subsidies which were not balanced by countervailing duties, and thus the US International Trade Centre imposed a new countervailing duty.

Canada appealed this decision to two panels of the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA), and both decided in favour of Canada. They also decided the Commerce’s calculations were actually in direct contrast to the law because they used the American price of lumber to decide the value of foreign lumber. Following this decision, the USA requested an Extraordinary Challenge Committee, but the panel again decided in favour of Canada.

With the USA delaying the refund of past duties and another round of countervailing duties investigations approaching, Canada and the USA signed a new MOU. Through this Softwood Lumber Agreement (STA), the United States refunded the duties collected in Lumber III. Meanwhile, Canada agreed to impose a fixed tax on softwood production above a certain amount. This deal was difficult for many Canadians working in the softwood industry, especially BC, and resulted in numerous layoffs and closure. The STA expired in 2001.

Lumber IV (2001 to the present)

Which brings us to the present. The current softwood lumber dispute began when the 2006 North American Free Trade Agreement expired. Also known as NAFTA, this makes trade easier by removing restrictions and tariffs between Canada, Mexico, and the United States in order to promote economic growth. In addition to softwood lumber, this deal also includes regulations on telecommunications, intellectual property, mobility of workers, and the environment.

In addition to being the longest-standing dispute, Lumber IV has been complicated by elaborate petitions filed by the USA’s Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports. In it, they identified numerous provincial and federal government programs, which they claimed to be subsidizing the lumber industry. They also petitioned for an investigation of certain Canadian companies for unfairly charging international consumers, including the USA, more for softwood lumber than what would be charged domestically (Canada). This is known as dumping.

Today, there have been rumblings of the USA withdrawing from NAFTA, which would greatly affect Canada economically. It is common knowledge that lumber is an important export for Canada, especially for those in the Canadian Shield and us on the West Coast. Any change to NAFTA, such as tariffs or restrictions, or the forestry sector of either of the two nations will impact how trade, specifically of softwood lumber, happens, in turn affecting all Canadians. This is especially important for the approximately 250 lumber mills in BC, most in rural locations.








The History of New Year’s Celebrations — December 31, 2017

The History of New Year’s Celebrations

By Jolie

When many think of New Year’s celebrations, the Times Square ball drop comes to mind. Over one
million dollars are spent every year to plan and execute the world-famous event. 50,000 watts of energy is
used just on the ball, which weighs 11,875 pounds. The statistics are met with staggering audiences; well
over one billion people are expected to watch this year, either in person or on television. But why do the
festivities exist? Why do we even celebrate the New Year?

The exact date itself comes from Julius Caesar, who established the Julian calendar (named after himself,
naturally) as he took over Rome. The first month was called January after the Roman god Janus, who had
one face looking ahead and one behind. This is believed to be the origin of the concept of change and
rebirth in the New Year, most notably in the form of New Year’s resolutions. He marked the date with
copious amounts of alcohol and lavish parties.

Despite Caesar’s best efforts, though, the celebration fell out of favour some centuries later in 567 A.D. as
New Year’s was deemed sacrilegious. Dates were marked by celebrations of Christian importance, such
as Christmas Day and the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25. January 1 was later given the
significance of Jesus’ circumcision, which was what Christians of the time considered the death of

The New Year was overhauled once again by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, who imposed the Gregorian
calendar upon Europe. Although New Year’s Day was still January 1, the calendar was pushed ten days
forward in comparison to Caesar’s measurement. Unfortunately, history took a dark turn as the new
Gregorian date turned into an occasion for Christians to torment Jewish people throughout the Medieval
period and beyond. Many synagogues and Jewish texts were destroyed in the grim process.

Fast forward to 1752, when the Gregorian calendar was accepted in Britain and her colonies of what is now
Canada and the United States. About one and a half centuries later, in the early 1900’s, fireworks boomed
over Manhattan courtesy of one Adolph S. Ochs, who would launch them from the top of his newspaper’s
building. By then, the genocidal undertone to New Year’s had dissolved; Ochs was a Jew who actively
campaigned against anti-Semitism. As the molten byproducts rained down on passersby, though, the
government prohibited the annual show and left Ochs looking for a new way to impress his high-society
friends. The ball drop was born from his efforts, and the tradition remains today.

An often-overlooked fact is that not everybody celebrates New Year’s according to the sparkling sphere.
Chinese New Year, which lands on varying days because it follows the Lunar Calendar, is a more well-
known celebration. Its less prominent but equally splendid counterparts include Enkutatash, the Ethiopian
New Year, celebrated on September 11 with much dancing and singing. Thai people observe
Songkran, celebrated from April 13-15.

No matter the origin and religion, though, all New Year’s events bring families together to eat, celebrate, and wish each other a prosperous New Year.



Welcome New Alumni Council! — December 4, 2017

Welcome New Alumni Council!

Please welcome your BC Heritage Fairs Alumni Council for the 2017-2018 year! We are excited to have so many familiar faces back on the council, as well as some new faces. This year we have some great things planned, so watch this space to see what we’re up to.

Your Alumni Council are: Abrielle (Vancouver), Anisha (Delta-Surrey), Gita (Richmond), Jaia (Richmond), Jolie (Richmond), Julia (Kamloops-Thompson Rivers), Lucas (Rivers to Sea), Rehma (Delta-Surrey), Sasha (Vancouver), Vedanshi (Richmond), and Veronica (Richmond). Check out their full bios on our Meet your Alumni Council page!

We are also really excited to announce that BC Heritage Fairs Society now has registered charity status, so if you’re stumped for gifts for the holidays or want to get in some last-minute donations for 2017, we would be grateful for the support. You can make a one-time or monthly donation, or become a member of the Society here.

2017-2018 Alumni Applications are out! — September 20, 2017
Seeking New Alumni Coordinator! — August 18, 2017

Seeking New Alumni Coordinator!

Hello out there, past Alumni, heritage fair fans, and heritage-education enthusiasts!

The BCHFS is seeking an Alumni Coordinator who will be an inspiring leader, an effective administrator, and a proponent of the leadership potential in young people. The Alumni Coordinator is a volunteer position responsible year round for our alumni students’ engagement with the Society. It’s approximately 5-10hours a month, looks great on a resume, and is HIGHLY rewarding! Interested?!

See the posting below and contact Ms. Beaudry at kbeaudry@bcheritagefairs.ca. The position begins in October 2017 and requires a one year commitment.

BCHFS – Alumni Coordinator Position Description



Michel Natal — August 17, 2017

Michel Natal


This photo is of Michel Natal, given to me by my grandfather. As you can see on the top of the picture, he has pointed out where each little town is located.

Michel Natal is a particularly interesting topic, simply because it’s quite unknown. At age nine, I prided myself on the fact that I had a Heritage Fair topic that was different than anyone else’s, and now I’ve decided to remember what I learned (and to research some more) in order to write this blog post.

Michel Natal was a coal mining town that was located near Nelson in British Columbia. To be exact, it was three small towns, but they were so close to each other that it was really only one town.

Though Michel Natal is what it is mostly called, the three towns were Michel, Middletown, and Natal, with Middletown obviously being located in the middle of the other two. Michel was not even a kilometre away from Natal, hence why they were commonly referred to as simply, Michel Natal.

In 1899, when Crow’s Nest Coal Company opened a mine, they established the small town of Michel. Michel had a small population to start off, and consisted of a small hospital and a few houses.

With the success of the mines (there were now three mines around Michel), the population became larger and larger, and in 1907, they established the town of Natal. Until 1910, this town was referred to as “Newtown” or “New Michel”. When Natal was founded, workers from the mines were finally given the chance to own their own property instead of staying in the homes provided for them from the company.

Natal was much more lively than Michel; it had three of the four hotels, an opera house, a cinema, and basketball courts.

Later, the small community of Middletown was established, right in the middle of Michel and Natal. Between Michel and Middletown were different mine buildings. Separating Middletown from Natal was a ball field, the school, and a few churches.

Michel Natal was a popular destination for many immigrants, and this particular town had a lot of Italian immigrants. It was there that my great-grandfather came, there where my grandfather grew up.


This photo given to me by my grandfather. This is my Nono and Nona (my grandfather’s parents), in front of their store (I believe it was located in Natal). Nona ran the store and Nono worked in the mines.

Seeing as it was a coal-mining town, the air was terrible (much like some of us are experiencing from the current forest fires).

As the years went on, the mine suffered from a few different disasters; in 1904, 1916, 1938, and the final straw, in 1967. These disasters were caused by multiple explosions and cost a few lives. Even without the disasters, there was usually a death per year due to the mines. The men went into the mines, not sure if they were ever going to come out again.

In the 1950s, the demand for coal had significantly decreased, so there wasn’t much need for the town of Michel Natal. Plus, tourism had gone up in BC, and unfortunately, Michel Natal was not an appealing sight, with all the houses and outhouses stained from coal dust. In 1964, the government decided it was a disaster for tourism, and had all the residents relocated to the nearby town of Sparwood, but many of them were uneager to leave. It makes sense why they would be so unwilling, as the government paid them terribly for their property; only a little of what they would have sold for. That is why so many people stayed in their homes, but were eventually forced out.

In 1967, a blast killed fifteen miners and injured ten (the largest amount of deaths in the mine). Prior to that, the most that had been killed in a disaster had been thirteen miners, in 1916.

After that tragedy, the government decided that keeping Michel Natal wasn’t worth it. They dealt first with the relocation and the protesting from some of the residents, but by 1978, they tore down every single building, except the Michel Hotel.

The Michel Hotel remained abandoned on the side of the highway, like some kind of marking to show what once was there. In 2010, they tore down the building. Now, the only thing standing is a sign; the only proof that there ever was something in this area.

Photo taken by my parents. This is the sign for Michel Natal (about ten years ago – featuring my brother and myself).


It seems like just another ghost town story, and for the longest time, that’s all it was to me. Until I came to realize that the people who lived there, they’re still alive today. My grandfather grew up there; all his childhood memories are from there.

It’s one thing to move out of your childhood home, but it’s another thing to stand on the side of the highway and remember what once was. To close your eyes and picture everything as if it was still there.

My grandfather still remembers where everything was. He can picture the whole town. Standing on the side of the road, he can point out exactly where he lived as a kid and where their family store was located. It’s somewhat heartbreaking.

I am glad I had the opportunity to learn about this little town. It may be forgotten to most, but it lives on in the pictures, the books that the inhabitants made, and the newspaper articles.




Author: Julia


Should Nazi war criminals still be prosecuted today? — August 2, 2017

Should Nazi war criminals still be prosecuted today?


By: Gita


Through research, I came to find the INTERNATIONAL MILITARY TRIBUNAL OF NUREMBERG, the documents outlining the rulings of the Nuremberg Trials held to prosecute war criminals after WWII.  If the evidence had been available during this time, all war criminals would have been prosecuted during these trials.  However, this was often not the case.  Thus, today we must continue to seek the justice extended by these trials, as the elapsed time is no legal defence for the atrocities committed.  We owe it to all the victims of war crimes to prosecute those responsible for the tremendous suffering they caused.  Moreover, it is imperative to continue to prosecute war criminals to send a universal message to potential perpetrators that crime will never be tolerated or excused, and that with their actions will come severe repercussions.  Exceptions are few and far between, and no get-out-of-jail-free card will be offered simply as a result of old age.  Otherwise, individuals may continue to follow such policies, believing themselves safe from all retribution.  Finally, by continuing to prosecute war criminals, we are bringing these events back into the spectrum of the public eye, reasserting how the appalling crimes of WWII were not the product of extraordinarily cruel individuals, but rather sometimes the ordinary actions of ordinary people.  These war criminals may now be approaching 90 years old, but unlike the 11 million victims who were also confined to a cell for their last breaths, the trials of these war criminals are justified.




“I want to say that it disturbs me deeply that I was part of such a criminal organization. I am ashamed that I saw injustice and never did anything about it, and I apologize for my actions. I am very, very sorry.”  Reinhold Hanning, convicted war criminal of WWII.  Those condemned as war criminals, such as Hanning, were very young and of low rank during WWII, and often had no choice in committing war crimes.  Either resist and be killed, or perform these acts under duress.  Major figures responsible for the atrocities were sentenced in the Nuremberg Trials, thus justice today is nearly obsolete.  To this degree, shouldn’t the townspeople who lived near the Holocaust camps and knew of their existence also be convicted for committing the same crimes of inaction?  Little good will come from attempting to prosecute these individuals, almost equally entitled victims, after the great efforts they sought to move on and start anew.  Now with new identities and unknowing grandchildren, great lengths must be taken today to prove that one is guilty of war crimes, as much hard evidence from WWII has been destroyed, and it is thus often very difficult to prove these war criminals either guilty or innocent.  But these people are no longer of threat to our society; today there are higher priorities, greater perpetrator threats that our tax money should be spent on.  So why dwell and rally for sympathy when Remembrance Day exists?  One thing we have learned is that atrocities are driven by fanatical hatred, not common sense.  “I just want him to hear from me […] what the consequences were of what he did at a young age, and let him reflect on it.” – Irene Weiss, victim of WWII war crime testifying at Hanning’s trial.  It is time, at long last, to remember, lest we forget, and move on.



Where do you stand?






A Canadian Connection to 9/11 — July 22, 2017

A Canadian Connection to 9/11

“This is not a 9/11 story. It’s a 9/12 story.” – David Hein, co-songwriter

Ask anyone on the street, and they’ll definitely know what 9/11 was. But see if they know anything about the town of Gander and the surprisingly large role the people in that town had in the immediate aftermath, and you’ll be lucky to find even one person who has heard of this story. However, through the recent Broadway hit Come from Away, hopefully more recognition will be given to the unsung (Canadian) heroes of an event that changed the world forever. Welcome to the Rock!“It was the worst day we have ever seen…” ­– Sen. John Kerry

What Was 9/11?

The attacks of September 11, 2001, or 9/11, was a series of coordinated terrorist attacks by the extremist group al-Qaeda on various locations in the United States. 4 flights were hijacked, and diverted towards major buildings: two planes flew into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center complex in New York City, one crashed into the Pentagon, a major intelligence location for the U.S. government, and the final flight planned to crash into the U.S. Capitol buildings, but the hijackers were overcome by passengers on the plane and crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 people died, most of which were innocent businessmen and businesswomen, civilians, and firefighters. Immediately after the attacks, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that all international flights were to be stopped, meaning that they would have to land in another country.


“Crossroads of the world”

Where is Gander?

Gander is a small town in northeastern Newfoundland, home to roughly 10,000 residents. It is home to Gander International Airport, an important refuelling stop for longer transatlantic flights.



“…but it brought out the best in all of us.” – Sen. John Kerry

So, what does Gander have to do with anything?

Since American airspace was effectively closed, international flights bound for America had to land somewhere else.

Enter Gander.

The convenient location of the airspace, combined with the fact that it was already used to large, commercial jets landing to refuel made it the suitable choice for several diverted flights to land. However, this was no pit stop. A total of 42 flights (38 of them civilian), and more than 6,600 passengers and air crew members landed in Gander, combining to be more than 2/3rds of Gander’s population at the time! Passengers had to stay in the area for nearly a week, before being allowed to continue to their destination. Residents of Gander showed their extreme generosity, volunteering to house and feed the passengers and crew. More can be seen in the two videos below:



“Emotionally transcendent” – Jay Irwin

How did this story become a musical?

A Torontonian lawyer and theatre producer was inspired after learning about the story of Gander, and approached various people to try to turn it into a piece for theatre. After several rejections, the songwriter couple of Irene Sankoff and David Hein agreed to become a part of the team. On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the two interviewed several residents of what occurred through their eyes, and several characters in the musical are real locals of Gander. In an interview with the two, here’s what they had to say about their experience:

What went into telling that story? You went to Gander, right? DH: Yes. We started researching it several years ago and found out there was going to be a commemoration ceremony happening, that all these people were going to be travelling back to Gander to reunite on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. So we applied for a Canada Council grant, went out there and ended up staying for quite a while. The people of Gander wouldn’t let us stay in hotels—they’d say, “Don’t be spendin’ money, stay with us, here are the keys, just remember to feed the cat.”

Were you thinking “musical” at the time? DH: We had originally been thinking of doing it as a documentary play like The Laramie Project[which is about the murder of a gay university student in Wyoming]. But then they had a benefit concert at the hockey arena, with this Newfoundland band, and everybody got up on the floor and started dancing. That’s when Irene realized it should be a musical. We weren’t trying to make a Broadway show, though. We were trying to be true to the story. What we really wanted was for the people we’d interviewed, when they sat in the audience, to be proud of what they were seeing and to say that we got it right.

(Source: http://torontolife.com/culture/stage/qa-irene-sankoff-david-hein-creators-toronto-born-broadway-hit-come-away/)

After they wrote a shorter version of Come from Away, the project was met with great success, and Sankoff and Hein wrote a full production, and the rest is history – so much so, that on March 15, 2017, on Broadway…


Justin Trudeau attended a show? And Ivanka Trump?

Yup. They did. And he loved it. The Broadway show was immensely popular, and is still playing to standing-room-only audiences. The show was nominated for seven Tony awards, winning Best Direction of a Musical, and also won several Drama Desk Awards among a boat-load (or, shall we say, plane-load) of awards.

OK, I’m sold. Can I listen to it now?

Sure, but don’t blame me if you get hooked on it!



Author: Lucas








Bill Reid — July 15, 2017

Bill Reid


Bill Reid carving Skidegate Pole 1976. Photo: Martine Reid.

Born on January 12, 1920 in Victoria, BC, Bill Reid was a renowned Haida artist. With Haida and German/Scottish roots, he started out studying classic European jewelry making at Ryerson Institute of Technology in Toronto. When his father, William Ronald Reid, Sr. died, he went with his mother, Sophie Gladstone Reid, to the Haida village where she was born. There he met his grandfather, Charles Gladstone, a Haida artist. Gladstone was making gold carved bracelets with tools that he inherited from Charles Edenshaw (Gladstone’s uncle) who is also a well-known Haida artist. Bill Reid said that moment “changed the way he saw the world.”


Wolf pendant, 1976

Bill had Haida art in his blood. Charles Gladstone then became Bill’s art and culture mentor. After that, Bill Reid dedicated himself to becoming a master carver, and to reclaim his Haida heritage. Perfecting the craft of Haida imagery and learning the stories and traditions of the Haida people, Bill Reid began to redefine the fine art gallery walls around the world.


Raven brooch, 1962


Much like Bill Reid’s own personal journey to rediscover his heritage and place importance on his Haida culture, language and art, the fine art world soon sought out the masterfully crafted sculptures and beautiful paintings that he created. From Paris to New York, Bill Reid was commissioned to create and represent Haida art. Bill Reid’s dream to bring his culturally significant art from Haida Gwaii into mainstream art became reality.


The Spirit of Haida Gwaii, The Jade Canoe at Vancouver International Airport

With his professional experience as a CBC reporter, he was instrumental in the re-envisioning of First Nations artistic products. Bringing trinkets from the basements of dusty museums to the fine art galleries of the world, Bill Reid redefined the art world to include art from Canada’s First Nations history.


The Raven and the First Men, Museum of Anthropology, UBC

To this day, Bill Reid’s Jade Canoe greets every international traveller arriving to the Vancouver International Airport. He has imprinted Haida culture and art into the minds of people around the world as well as the walls of fine art galleries. In this way, we can see the impact he had on redefining and contributing Haida art to the world. His impact is far reaching. From the Canadian 20 dollar bill and fine jewelry to paintings and sculptures, Bill Reid’s Haida art can be seen all over the world.




Friendship at the Fair — July 11, 2017

Friendship at the Fair

Friendship is support, friendship is bond that can’t be forced, and it can be made in just seconds and can last a life time. Today is our last day of the 2017 BC provincial heritage fair and on the ride over to the ferry I had a moment that made me simply smile. All the students on the bus were singing and it made me think about how in just matter of a couple short days delegates from all over the province where make new memories and creating bonds that could last a life time.

Friendship could mean different things to different people. It’s all about perspective, some people look for people to motivate them and others look for people to share stories with.  Veronica says “friendship to me is about being necessary to someone’s life and having someone to share ideas with.”  Lucas says “friendship is about inspiring each other.” I think that by having positive people around you, you will become more inspired and you can grow as an individual.

At heritage fair students are put in to a different environment and are mixed with people from all across the Province, they meet new people and are exposed to an array of different cultures and interests. I believe that when students are put in situation like these they develop better social skills. And when students meet new people with different experiences they learn how to respect others’ opinions and this allows students for become more open minded. When they develop these skills, it means that less problems will be created and more compromised will be made. This quality that heritage fair has, about bring delegates together, is so unique and is one of the key factors the sets us apart.

Everybody needs some sort of support system, and having a friend circle that you can share your thoughts with and that can respect your personality will be great individuals to be around. I had this thought as I was sitting in the bus with all of our delegates and I could hear so many different conversations. Some more serious and talked and past life experiences, and others we fun things that people wanted to try. This might not mean much to some people, but is goes to show how close these students became in less the 48 hours. Now we come together not just citizens form our regions, but as citizens of British Columbia and friends.


Author: Anisha