Coast Mountains School District 82 supports loosening border restrictions between Stewart, B.C. and Hyder, Ala., and has made that position clear to federal Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair.
During the school district’s Sept. 30 board meeting, Trustee Angela Brand Danuser updated the board on efforts to lobby the federal government to consider a “bear bubble,” which would allow students in Hyder to attend Bear Valley School in Stewart.
The border between Canada and the U.S. has been closed to non-essential travel since Mar. 21 and will remain closed until at least Oct. 21, but without an open school in Hyder, students are stranded without educational opportunities.
On Aug 5., the board of trustees sent a letter to Blair, highlighting their support of Stewart and Hyder being formally classified an “Integrated Trans-Border Community” to allow students from Hyder to cross the border to attend school in Stewart.
Danuser noted that the students barred from school in Stewart are in elementary, so education at that stage in their development is very important.
The trustees’ letter to Blair read that “the communities of Stewart and Hyder together exemplify a caring, inclusive and committed family-oriented community, supporting one and another through the special relationship developed over the years due to their social isolation and related circumstances.”
It states that the border closure has resulted in “undue hardship” for residents of Hyder, because they have been unable to attend Bear Valley School — the only educational opportunity available to them.
On Sept. 18, Superintendent Janet Meyer joined Danuser in Stewart, where they met with Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach and joined a protest to raise awareness of the issue with the Hyder-Stewart action committee.
“Since then, not much has happened unfortunately, Minister Bill Blair has not commented to the Hyder-Stewart action committee at all, hasn’t said anything,” said Danuser on Sept. 30.
“We are still pushing away at it, plugging away at it, I don’t know what other steps can be done.”
Taylor Bachrach and Pretium Resources Inc. have also submitted their own letters to Blair supporting the “integrated trans-border community,” on Sept. 22 and Sept. 16 respectively.
Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News