A heart-warming & inspiring story of collaboration, perserverance, and celebration; the unique tale of the Upper Skeena Recreation Centre is it's own moral of the story. Many other NCLGA communities can learn from lessons provided in the lead-up to the Centre's creation. In the midst of hardship and defeat, these communities banded together and rose above the obstacles to bring their residents the very best they could -- which will now serve as a gathering place and a shining example of how dedicated these leaders are to their people.
The Upper Skeena Recreation Centre will be the physical and emotional Heart of the Hazeltons. It will be the centre of activity; appealing, inviting and accessible to all residents of the regional community, as well as guests and visitors, contributing to their physical and mental health, education and economic well-being. As the Heart of the Hazeltons, it will be the catalyst for collaboration among all peoples.
The Upper Skeena region represents of British Columbia’s most rugged and one of the most majestic areas of the world. In its midst are the world renown Skeena, Bulkley and Kispiox rivers which provide breath-taking experiences for global tourists, power to light and heat millions, and carry vast resources through their respective fisheries. Surrounding these rivers is a complex network of mountain ranges, and sanctuaries for wildlife, birds and humans.
Today, the Upper Skeena region is experiencing
its greatest challenges. Confronted by crushing unemployment, often catastrophic health issues, and low education outcomes, there is much pain. On the immediate horizon, there are many economic opportunities which may bring change including new LNG pipelines, vast mining exploration for base and precious metals, power generation by harnessing its rivers, multi-modal transportation systems, and a truly world-class eco-tourism industry. The region also celebrates its Gitxsan traditions, culture and people who have lived as one with the land through the millennia.
As the local, regional and Gitxsan governments look to the future, they are addressing these challenges and opportunities, with a new approach – recognizing that they are stronger together.
At the forefront of their collaboration is addressing the health and well-being of the region’s citizens, with a specific focus upon its dominant youth population. With limited facilities and expertise, these leaders have developed a strategy known as the Heart of the Hazeltons, which includes the replacement of a 50-year old volunteer built ice arena, with a year-round community recreation centre. This new facility, presently called the Upper Skeena Recreation Centre, will include programs and services for all ages, all sporting and cultural interests and, serve as a gathering place for its people, extend the collaborative approaches to the Coast Mountain School District, Northwest Community College, Northern Health, Gitxsan Health, VIA Sport, Pacific Sport North and a growing array of community organizations seeking a way to foster social change as they pursue their mission. Most importantly, the Heart of the Hazeltons will give to these people, what some feel has been lost – a spirit of hope.
As the catalyst for collaboration and the beginning of important social change, the Heart of the Hazeltons initiative involves a total investment of $12 million. To demonstrate the strength of its commitment and leadership, the local and regional governments (Regional District of Kitimat Stikine, Village of Hazelton, and District of New Hazelton) have already committed over one million dollars (over $1 million) towards this goal. In addition, the Gitxsan Government Commission (elected chiefs) has contributed $50,000 and the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs have committed over $350,000 towards the preliminary design of the Upper Skeena Recreation Centre, and to augment programs and services in the existing facility. These agencies have also pledged their long-term commitment to provide operational support of the Upper Skeena Recreation Centre to ensure its maximum and optimal use. Considering the extremely limited tax base of the region, these contributions are extraordinary.
Work with the Government of British Columbia and the Government of Canada to secure additional support for the capital costs of the Upper Skeena Recreation Centre and its ongoing operations are also advancing well, with new federal-provincial infrastructure programs on the immediate horizon. A contribution of $6.0 million is being sought towards the capital costs.
The remaining investment of over $4.0 million to $5.0 million in the Upper Skeena Recreation Centre will come through philanthropic, naming and sponsorship support through a campaign initiative, most appropriately identified as the Heart of the Hazeltons. This support is anticipated to come from philanthropic sources, including individuals, industry, foundation and community interests, and will be used towards the construction of the Upper Skeena Recreation Centre, and to further complement the funding needs for ongoing health and wellness, recreation and sport, and other related programs. To date, nearly $2.0 million in philanthropic support has also been committed.
To learn more about the project, please visit http://heartofthehazeltons.ca/