It Is October
by CAROL PONCHET
It is October. The wind blows chilly and the rain threatens to turn to snow, but here at the SWCC offices, I am warm through! I have been filling in for Kathy Stockner, the wonder woman and ‘Office Mom’ who juggles all the ins and outs of this place. She and her husband Todd are busy with their guiding business and I was invited to come and fill in for her as office manager, and I was given the honorific of ‘Office Aunty’! I say this because it is indeed my honor to be here and do what I can to help facilitate the important work that the people here have committed themselves to.
For me it has been a steep learning curve. First, let me say that I am a horticulturist, not an office manager, but skills overlap, as we get older and lessons are learned, experiences absorbed, and I have discovered that I do indeed have ‘some’ of what it takes to be here and to help. My first hurdle was getting familiar with Mac systems! I have a PC at home. There were and still are so many tricks, short cuts and straight up programs that I’ve never seen before. So, I ask for help. When I ask Shannon, I have to brace myself, she is so fast I wonder why she would ask me to do these tasks for her when it would probably take her less time, but she is a woman with a big heart and generous spirit who believes in giving everyone the opportunity to learn and grow! So I learn and I grow!
When I ask Leah for help, she comes over, quietly and calmly, like a soft breeze and shows me patiently the hows and whys of a certain process. One thing I have learned for sure is that Google is my friend! I never really realized what I can actually ask! Amazing!
When I ask the new office intern, Kesia how to deal with a problem on the computer, she is so calm and reassuring, very savvy, and the best trouble shooter/problem solver I’ve ever met! So you see, I am well supported here… funny, as my job is to support those around me, which I do, as best I can. I try to anticipate people's needs and take good care of them and of this place.
People come and go. I never know who is going to come through the door. Sometimes it is shoppers, looking for some super cool merchandise, of which we have a good amount. Sometimes people come bearing gifts of food, like Tom Lee and his plate of oh so delicious black bean brownies ‘just because’ he said with a smile, or Don Messier and his bags of apples from his orchard. What great snacks! But mostly, it is all business. People come for advice and to share knowledge. SWCC has so many projects going on all at once.
When I first arrived here, the Youth on Water (YOW) program was just wrapping up. A very capable young man named Kolin was organizing BC Rivers Day and the phone was ringing steadily with people wanting to get on the list for a glorious raft float down the Skeena.
Skyla Lattie was here getting all her ducks in a row before she headed out to her territory in Maxhla Didaat with her partner and young child to occupy the land and spend the winter pursuing traditional practices and being a place for world weary friends and family to come for a needed respite.
Then the shit hit the fan when our illustrious Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his buddy Catherine McKenna announced that they were giving a ‘conditional’ approval of the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project on Lelu Island! I thought I knew busy, but I didn’t! The phone rang with reporters from all over! Shannon was doing double time with interviews and preparing press releases and so much more.
Maybe this is a good time to talk about her, just a little. I am so grateful that we, as community, have her here with us. That she leads the way, that she is fearless, so very wise, articulate and deeply passionate about the struggles we all face in keeping this beautiful land, these watersheds and rivers, these estuaries clean and healthy forever. It can be an onerous task. She copes with it by being loose and relaxed, quick to laugh out loud and always ready for fun. Thank you Shannon. You are the heart of this place! You rock girl!
So, that’s about all I want to say about being here. I feel like I am contributing in my own humble way. I have this chance to nurture and support the amazing people who do this work and I am blessed!