Elsewhere, Abbotsford's Centennial Pool may have to stay closed
Monday, May 31, 2021
The horror continues to sink in, but any surprise at the 215 children found buried at a Kamloops residential school stems only from the specificity or willful ignorance. The nightmarish facts have been well-documented, even if Canada has largely ignored what life was actually like for many children and their families. In 2009, the federal government was asked to fund a search for residential school graves. It said the $1.5 million cost—a pittance in the context of the federal budget—would be too expensive. We do know, though, there are unmarked graves at the site of the Coqualeetza school in Chilliwack. And we have neighbours with family members who were forced to go to schools from which they would never return. This happened here. It is time for a full accounting.—Tyler Olsen, managing editor
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Sam Darkoh has had a recurring role as Young Pop Tate on Riverdale. 📸  Riverdale/CW
How one word briefly makes the pandemic disappear

Imagine a world in which COVID-19 doesn’t exist; a world where people interact daily as if the pandemic never occurred. That place isn’t just coming in September (maybe?). It already exists in British Columbia, but only for tiny stretches. Welcome to the film industry.

Most TV programs today look a lot like they did 2 or 3 years ago: the show’s might depict aliens, drug kingpins, or general hijinks, but it probably doesn’t involve social distancing. Erasing COVID from your evening entertainment has been an immense undertaking, and one that has made the job of being an actor a little strange for people like Aldergrove’s Sam Darkoh.

Darkoh has been working to build a career in film and music since graduating from Capilano University’s acting program 2 years ago. In addition to numerous voice gigs, he has appeared in Riverdale (as Young Pop Tate) and landed a role on the Amazon Prime show Upload. A new job is always daunting. But the challenge is magnified when a pandemic changes fundamental parts of the acting process.

"When you’re rehearsing the scene, when you first get to the set, you have masks on. You don’t see their mouths. All you see are their eyes… It’s really strange, because as an actor, it’s very important to be able to connect with another actor, and you don’t really get that connection until the director yells ‘action.’"

In order to be allowed to have actors interact without masks, the BC film industry has instituted strict protocols: everyone on set must pass several COVID tests and social distancing is closely enforced. The result is what Darkoh says is a "duality," whereby the pandemic is extremely present in the workday until, suddenly, it is the job of actors to pretend it doesn’t exist.

"You become very used to wearing masks and social distancing. That’s the pandemic mentality. You think of all this stuff. Then a director yells action, [and] it all disappears. It’s all gone.

"The funniest thing is when you’re wearing make up and then you take your mask off, you have this sweaty glob on your face where the mask was. And we just have to try to pat it away before the director says it’s time to roll."

Darkoh is also a musician and rapper and would normally be building a reputation and audience by playing live shows. His plan after university seemed clear: audition for acting gigs and perform the music he was making. Then the pandemic hit. With performances impossible now, Darkoh, like other artists, is competing for eyeballs on computers and phones. And his two passions are also linking up; last summer he shot a music video in Yarrow, a setting he chose after staying at a Cultus Lake campground. The video shoot was fun, he said. But it also got him acquainted with some of the less glamorous parts of film production.

"It was a bit of pressure, because as much as you are at the whim of the director [when acting], it’s kind of nice not having to be in charge of everything," he says. "You had to make sure everyone has something to eat, had to be sure everyone has transportation, had to basically dot all your ‘I’s and cross all your ‘T’s."

During a pandemic, being in charge can mean being aware of the risks posed by humans doing human things. Which left Darkoh imploring his friends/crew to not compromise his big video shoot before it ever took place.

"I was like ‘You guys! Don’t go anywhere, Don’t go do anything. I need you guys in this video and I just don’t need anybody getting sick. Please! I will DoorDash stuff to your house, just please relax!"

—By Tyler Olsen

The Floor Is Yours: What’s your favourite locally shot TV show or film
Need to Know
🟠 There is a vigil outside a Chilliwack Catholic church for the children found buried in Kamloops [Chilliwack Progress]

🚓 A body found near Yale belonged to a 19-year-old woman; foul play is suspected [CBC]

🚂 Hope’s historic train station may not be destined for demolition after all [Hope Standard]

🚓 The victim of a fatal shooting last week in Chilliwack was once convicted of manslaughter [Chilliwack Progress]

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Centennial Pool opened to the public in Abbotsford on June 4,1958. 📸  The Reach/P42923
The Agenda
Abbotsford city staff say a recent inspection of Centennial Mill Lake Pool has revealed a range of "significant" concerns that may require the facility to stay closed this year. The pool needs about $1 million worth of repairs to keep it operational and safe, according to a report going to council today. Those problems were just identified. The report says they would likely have been detected last year, but COVID-caused layoffs to staff and changes to work meant larger recreation facilities were prioritized and the issues went undetected. Staff say repairs could extend the pool’s life by 5 to 7 years. If council gives the go-ahead, planning must start immediately to ensure the work is completed so the pool could open on time next year.

Teachers in the Langley School District will now be able to respond to overdoses on school grounds after a new administrative procedure was put in place. The Opioid Overdose Response procedure, the first for the school district, says that 2 naloxone kits will be available at every high school in Langley. The kits will be stored with other emergency medical supplies, and teachers can receive training to administer naloxone. Those with training will be able to respond to overdoses at the school or school events. They will not be required to respond to overdoses happening off school grounds. Naloxone kits became widely known and available to the public in 2017; at that time, the Langley School District had purchased one kit, and had no plans to purchase more.
COVID latest
A new COVID variant could pose long-term problems for re-opening. The variant, B.1.167, is responsible for much of the recent spread in India and the UK and is believed to be much more contagious than both standard COVID and the variants that triggered BC’s third wave. Health officials hope contact tracing enables them to continue to specifically target B.1.167, but the variant has been comprising a steadily higher share of all cases detected in the province. Vaccines are still effective against the variant, and its spread would increase the importance of getting a high percentage of British Columbians fully immunized. [BCCDC COVID data]

Fraser Health
  • New cases: 162 Friday / 181 average (down 34% from last week)
  • No active outbreaks at hospitals / 3 active outbreaks in long-term care
  • School exposures: Abbotsford: 15 / Chilliwack: 7 / Langley: 10 / Mission: 4 / Fraser Cascade: 0
  • Workplace closures (May 27): 2
  • New cases: 317 Friday /  315 average (down 28%% from last week)
  • 292 hospitalizations (down 8% from last week)
  • 2 new deaths / 1,692 total
Around Town
🔎 The Chilliwack Museum has launched I Remember: a new installation of found objects and memories that aims to foster personal recollections of the community.

This year’s Canada Day celebrations in Abbotsford will include a drive-through event at Tradex. Residents can submit photo or video of Canada-themed content.

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