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Bella Bella, B.C.: The town that solved suicide

  • arikara (860 posts)
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    Bella Bella, B.C.: The town that solved suicide

    How remote Bella Bella emerged from its ‘dark time’ by reconnecting troubled youth with the land

    The airport in Bella Bella is a one-room shack with plastic chairs and a resident tabby cat. Last Friday, as gale force winds lashed the windows, she padded across the laps of a dozen foreign tourists outfitted in thousands of dollars in dark Gore-Tex gear before dozing off on one of their backpacks.

    The soggy Brits, Germans and Australians packing the remote airport on Campbell Island, on B.C.’s Central Coast, are among an increasing number of tourists flocking to the region. Royalty—Prince William and his wife, Kate, will touch down here next Monday during their Western Canadian tour—and global travellers alike come to see grizzly bears and the rare, cream-coloured Kermode bear up close.

    Bella Bella, an Indigenous community of 1,600, sits at the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest, a vast, remote world of uninhabited islands, kelp forests and white sand beaches. People are scarce outside the Heiltsuk community, but in the surrounding forests there is life everywhere, including the highest concentration of grizzly bears on the continent. (B.C.’s fast-growing bear-watching industry is already far outpacing its trophy hunt, generating 12 times more spending in the Great Bear than the hunt, according to a recent study out of Stanford University.)

    But change is afoot. Bella Bella’s tiny airport, slated to be overhauled in the months ahead, isn’t the only thing in town undergoing a rebuild. Plans are in the works for a new guest lodge, restaurant and hostel in Bella Bella and a shop that will sell T-shirts, water bottles, scarves, hats and bags adorned in local art. In the coming months, the new airport, a new band store and a new big house will be erected by the band’s construction firm using local wood milled at a millyard the Heiltsuk are in the process of taking over. And there’s talk of extending a cedar boardwalk built for the royal visit to a three-kilometre waterfront loop, linking the harbour with the former town site at McLoughlin Bay.

    …more…

    http://www.macleans.ca/news/bella-bella-the-town-that-solved-suicide/

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