By Angela Abrahão –
Things happen often when we’re not paying attention, mostly because, well, they are just part of life. Here, ranching in our small part of the world is life, filled with hayfields and cows, where there are things like calving season and haying season, and in all the other times in between, things are happening. Sometimes really important things happen in between those times, like the time early this spring when life pushed through the mundane and a seed that grew from the people of the Cariboo came to life.
Earlier this year on BC Beef Day, May 18, the Province awarded Thompson Rivers University’s Applied Sustainable Ranching Program a Proclamation distinguishing the program as the first of its kind in British Columbia and praising the efforts of the university and the industry advisory board that co-created the program. Program directors Jill Watt and David Zirnhelt, advisory board members, and students from the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program were invited to a meeting with ministers including the Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick and the Minister for Advance Education Andrew Wilkinson along with MP Donna Barnett and MP Coralee Oakes.
No big deal, just another warm spring day in Victoria at BC Beef Day with the ministers. The ranchers back home in the Cariboo were putting in the gardens, collecting eggs from expectant hens, checking on newborn calves, harrowing hayfields, drinking strong coffee in kitchens across the Cariboo. Barns were being built, spring was arriving early. Students were finishing up beef marketing assignments, handing in papers on ranching enterprises, thinking about habitat, watersheds, and predator management. Calves and lambs were arriving or had already arrived.
Dr. Ray Sanders, executive director at Thompson Rivers University – Williams Lake Campus, accepted the proclamation, and the BC Beef Day Barbeque commenced. In the press release Thompson Rivers University president Dr. Alan Shaver said, “Thompson Rivers University is proud to be expanding our role in the future of Ranching in BC. Two of our strategic priorities are to increase student success and to support the economic and cultural sustainability of our community partners. Our industry advisory board in Williams Lake has championed the need for this program, which will contribute to the student success and help sustain the fabric of the region.”
Sometimes we don’t fully appreciate what we have, things like growing up eating beef from the ranch down the road. For me I only realized it when I moved out on my own to one day find myself staring down the meat isle at the grocery store wondering what the strange Styrofoam package with the bright red meat has to do with real meat. At home that wholesome food from the farm down the road always came neatly wrapped in familiar brown butcher paper. The fabric of our region.
It was cool to go to the legislature, walk the halls, watch meetings from the gallery, be served some BBQ from Lieutenant Governor General Judy Guichon, a rancher herself might I add. Far and away, beyond all the other memories I have of this historic trip, I will never forget what it was like to walk through the legislature, a gaggle of students with David Zirnhelt and see the reactions of other people, people who remembered him from when he sat in that office. He made a difference. Every single person wanted to say hello. I felt proud.
Sometimes we can’t take in the big picture until we are looking at it from a different perspective. These ranchers are our neighbours, and whether we realize it or not our neighbours have an impact on the world around us. I’m proud of the students I get to study alongside and the instructors that come and teach us what they know and the passionate people in the background who are making this happen. Proclamations are really great, but the people are even better. If that’s the fabric of this region, count me in.
Angela Abrahão lives in Horsefly and frequents a farm in Brazil and a sugar cane co-op where they produce ethanol, sugar, and energy. Angela is a herbalist, writer, and permaculture designer for the love of it and is a founder and digital marketing analyst for a computer software incubator. She is currently taking the Applied Sustainable Ranching program at TRU and you can follow along at www.ranching.school or on Facebook.