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From COVID to climate – Relay for Life can’t catch a break

Two years of no Relay for Life has become three.

This year, though, it wasn’t COVID-19 that cancelled the event set for Saturday. It was climate.

More specifically, high winds made it dangerous to have the tents set up at Lac des Bois, for the volunteers and vendors, and potentially for the participants.

I’ve seen a few people on Facebook saying they should have gone ahead despite the danger. To those people I say, we’re going to have a sheet at the event. You sign it, and you’re accepting responsibility not just for any injuries you may suffer due to weather-related occurrences, but also for those suffered by others.

If you wouldn’t be willing to sign a paper along those lines, why would you expect the organizers of the Relay to?

I know a fair bit about winds and tents. Until a couple of months ago, I was the person who set up the remotes for Pattison Media or, as I looked to call myself, the ‘grunt’.

Some of those remotes involved setting tents up, and there were a few times where even with big sandbags on each leg, the tent was still moving. It’s not a nice feeling to see a large tent moving on its own, with the feeling it’s going to end up somewhere over the rainbow.

My first real encounter with a sort-of tent and wind was many years ago when my family was on summer holidays back to Saskatchewan. In those days, we had a travel trailer of the kind that had to be cranked up to set it up each time.

It usually didn’t take long, but one evening we pulled into the yard of the relative we were staying at that night – and it started to rain.

And I don’t mean ‘rain’. I mean ‘RAIN’ with hurricane-force winds and rain coming down as if the Fraser River at high-water mark was coming down from the skies. (Editor’s Note: Please note there may be some slight exaggeration in that statement.)

I’m pretty sure we set a world record in getting the trailer set up that night, then sloshed through the mud in the yard to get inside the house for a while.

I also remember a day at the Merritt Mountain Music Festival quite a while ago, in one of its first years.

At that time, the area for pre-show media scrums was a tent. The wind was blowing pretty good that afternoon, and the organizers needed almost all the people they had on stage. I volunteered to hang on to one of the tentpoles behind the table the singer sat at for the scrum.

The next artist came in, sat down and took the first couple of questions from other reporters.

Then I asked a question and scared him. He hadn’t realized I was one of the media, and thought I was a volunteer helping with the tent.

All of this is a long way of saying I know what the Relay for Life organizers had to take into account Saturday afternoon, and I agree with their decision to cancel.

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