I had the opportunity to observe the military exercises that took place on Lower Kootenay Band wetlands on Feb. 20. I usually avoid working on weekends, but I knew this was an event I couldn’t turn down. I try my best to support the Lower Kootenay Band (LKB) in my coverage, and it’s not everyday you get to see explosions go off.
Before actually attending the event on Saturday, I received a heads-up three days prior from Major Nils French, the commander of the 44 Engineer Squadron, notifying me about the exercises that would take place on the LKB’s wetlands.
I shared this notice on the Advance’s Facebook page, alerting residents that any loud explosions that they may hear on Saturday is probably stemming from the exercises. As expected, this aroused the curiosity of many, and some saw this as an opportunity to spread rumours and falsehoods online.
“They’re bringing COVID here,” one comment read. “No one even uses the wetlands,” wrote another. Some even argued that the purpose of the military’s visit was to flex their gear and equipment.
Of course, none of this was true. The purpose of the military’s visit was to hone their engineering skills, while simultaneously helping the LKB with the restoration of their wetlands, a project that has been ongoing for several years now. Nasukin Jason Louie of the LKB is a veteran who served with the 44 Engineer Squadron, and this exercise was his way of using his military background to do some good for his community.
After the event on the wetlands concluded, the soldiers and visitors such as myself were invited to hear the Nasukin speak at the LKB’s Roundhouse. He praised the soldiers for their work and their service. He also shared his concerns about people online not understanding the full story, which is why he invited me to attend the event: to set the record straight.
To reiterate, the military was not blowing holes in the ground for laughs and giggles. They were there to help with developing nesting grounds for wildlife, and to develop a bridge for LKB members so that they can navigate the marsh with ease. This was an event designed to further the development and growth of both parties.
I was obliged to write this because I have a lot of respect for the Nasukin. He puts his community before himself and is constantly making efforts to improve the betterment of all members of the LKB. As long as I am in this role, I’ll do anything I can to shine a light on the LKB, and give them the positive coverage that they deserve.
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