Letters to the Editor – Aug. 18

This week's letters discuss public art, screening exams at the Elko Sawmill and Wapiti's waste reduction program.

Letter to the Editor re: Apprenticeship screening process

I recently became aware of the practices the Elko Sawmill uses in their screening process for apprenticeships, and I am appalled at the composition of their entrance exam. Many trades programs have entrance exams, including programs at SAIT and TRU, and although I disagree with some of the components of those exams, I am completely baffled by the questions Canfor poses to its prospective tradespeople.

Besides being asked to perform rapid math calculations, candidates for an apprenticeship at the mill must, in one multiple choice section, answer questions like: “what is the opposite of ‘fickle’?” As an educator, I am happy to see that vocabulary and numeracy remain an important part of post-secondary life, but I am at a loss for how this particular type of question has anything to do with being a good tradesperson, especially considering that most people carry around a device that not only acts as a calculator, but also acts as a personal dictionary. There are also other cringe-worthy questions listed under the “logic” section: candidates are shown a picture of a white cow and a spotted cow and asked “which is harder to see from an airplane?” This sort of vague question likely makes all educators shake their heads in disbelief — I mean, it only serves to create more questions, like: how high up is this airplane; is the ground covered in green grass, brown dirt, or white snow; and how is it that the person who wrote this test hasn’t been shot for creating such a stupid question?

Although I understand the need for a screening process for trades programs, this type of exam does nothing but diminish the actual value and intelligence of tradespeople. Shouldn’t employers be looking for traits like determination, collaboration, resourcefulness, and resiliency, or testing base knowledge and skills actually used in the trades? From what I understand, this test administered at the Elko Sawmill is passed by less than five per cent of the candidates who write it. As such, Canfor is actively passing up very capable and dedicated people in favour of someone who gets lucky on a gibberish exam. This certainly doesn’t inspire confidence in the intelligence and rationality of the people at the mill who continue to administer this test — perhaps it is they who need to be retested, only this time using a legitimate assessment.

Adam MacDonaldVia email


Letter to the Editor re: Art is communication

Art is a form of communication, from pictures to murals. They represent someone or something. Highway signs communicate with the motorist, reminding or warning of danger spots.

Art is a subculture’s way of explaining to a tourist about a business or facility. If a tourist came to discover us in Fernie and drove past the arena and saw the mural immediately ice arena came to mind. I spent many hours watching the talent and long hours put in to create this masterpiece, especially as it was done on a wall and not on the ground.

I enjoyed this mural so much. I had these artists paint one for my home and had it signed by them. They were very talented and professional. I hope they are invited back to paint another mural. Like any other hot topic, the centre ice melted away.

Joe MacoskoFernie, B.C.


Letter to the Editor re: Waste reduction at Wapiti

The 2016 Wapiti Music Festival held in Annex Park this past weekend was by all accounts a fabulous success.  Over the past eight years events in Fernie have steadily increased.  Now many weekends have multiple activities and events to choose from.  The organizers of Wapiti raised the bar significantly this year by insisting that their vendors use compostable material to serve their food and drink offerings.  I commend Ryland Nelson for his efforts in this area as a board member over the past eight years.  His passionate approach to reducing waste generated at this event not to half but to 10 per cent of what other similar events produce was ambitious to say the least.  Ryland sourced out a pilot project in Cranbrook that would take the compostable materials; he set up a system to educate the public as they disposed of their items at Wapiti sorting them into compostable 60 per cent, recyclable 30 per cent and garbage 10 per cent.

As a volunteer at the Wildsight Waste Reduction Tent over the weekend I was so inspired to see people as they sorted their waste into the bins and the looks on their faces when they saw that the smallest bin was the garbage bin.  It took every thing I had not to jump up and down and ask people if they were not amazed that this could be done at a big event.

Exposing Fernie kids to the potential of what can be diverted from our waste system gives them food for thought.  Kids live by example, and how many throw away coffee cups go in the family garage per week that could be recycled or composted is staggering.  My kids grew up in a time when re-use, reduce and recycling was very new to our area.  Our simple rule at home was no garage on the ground, put everything you consume in your pockets at school and bring it home to be recycled. If you use a plastic disposable cup you must rinse it out and use it at least once more before you recycle it.

It is important to thank the organizers of Wapiti for their environmental stewardship and to acknowledge their leadership in this area as a way to reduce the impact that these events have on Fernie and our environment.  I see it as the gold standard for events organization going forward including the civic events that I organize.  It takes more planning, more volunteers and more awareness on the part of the festival organizers but what a great impact it can have.  Excellent job, Wapiti!

Sharon SwitzerFernie, B.C.