What does your father do for a living? What did your grandfather do?

By Shaun Aquiline

For generations, we have been defined by what we do and not always by the content of our character. Time changes all. Methods, purpose and values have changed over time, creating different ways of life for different generations. But one thing that remains unchanged, the constant tie that binds, is that people who work hard, who work together, keep our economy moving forward. Whether it is in an office, a boardroom, a classroom, a pharmacy, a radio station, a Not-for Profit charity, a warehouse or a mill, we all work for each other.

The more we move forward, the weak points emerge and offer us opportunities to find a better way. Compassion has grown, we fight for women to be treated as equals in the work force, to be paid the same, we realize that drinking whiskey at lunch in a 1960s marketing meeting was probably not a great idea, we learn that we should forego working with asbestos. Oh and we should probably wear masks while we’re working in the mines. We learn, we sharpen our skills, and we evolve. In short, we do better.

One place that has been a strong foundation for this community, on that has both changed and stayed the same, is Downie Mill. I learned a valuable lesson in my recent tour of the mill­­—the heart of this community beats in that building. CP Rail workers are the backbone, and the mill pumps the blood. I pondered what it would be like if both were missing from Revelstoke. What would this town be like? Could it sustain itself on a diet of tourism alone? Would it be painful during the shoulder season—which would arguably be almost the whole year, except for when the powder falls?

I don’t know the answer to these questions. It is a “what if?” scenario. But sometimes, consulting the “what if?” scenarios show us what’s of value, and what a good thing we have in the mill being there, standing strong. In a good relationship, if you look at your partner, recognize their beauty, their intelligence and what you love about them, both sides benefit. After all, we all like to be respected and appreciated. Industry and economy are in a relationship. And from what I’ve seen, I think it’s a good relationship. It’s nice to witness, like seeing your grandparents hit their Golden Anniversary. They made it. They did it together. Like our community and the economy, the mill and our livelihood, they succeeded. Through the ups and downs of the past to where we stand today, the heart beats strong, the connection runs deep, and we all feel it.

It will come as no surprise to those who know me or listen occasionally on CKCR, that I am a big fan of my father. I can’t do what he does. I can’t do what I saw the workers at the mill do. But I absolutely appreciate the work, dedication and passion with which they live every day. I am in awe of it

John Lennon sang it best: A Working Class Hero is Something to Be….

Here is Shaun’s two-part radio documentary: