SCROLLING THROUGH the endless posts on the Russian war on Ukraine, one sees image after image of war. Burned-out buildings, disabled tanks, and Ukrainian soldiers and ordinary citizens resisting the invasion.
But also, pictures of people sheltering in metro stations, trains packed with fleeing civilians, and refugees queuing at border crossings. People, but more than people, families. Families caring for each other. Helping each other get through the most difficult of situations. Making sure the most vulnerable are safe and not left behind.
This summer and fall, when wildfires and floods forced evacuation of Lytton, Spences Bridge, Merritt, Monte Lake and other neighboring towns, thousands streamed into Kamloops looking for shelter and food. And for the most part, when they came, it was as a family unit.
Sometimes the family was a parent and child. Sometimes it included grandparents, an auntie or a cousin. Family members advocated for those who needed assistance. Children, elders, and those with health concerns had others ensuring they were looked after.
During the fires and floods, families were not always relatives. There was a 60-some-year-old fellow who looked like a biker who brought in his 90-year-old housemate. There were groups of young people who shared a house who banded together. There were divorced partners who banded together to ensure their children were looked after.
During the fires and floods, families made sure no one was left behind, and everyone had a place to stay and food to eat.
Families are powerful units. Day to day, we see it, but it is even more evident during times of war, fires, and floods. The most vulnerable, the youngest, the oldest are looked after by their families.
That is why, when I reviewed the 2022 B.C. Budget as well as the Supplemental Budget Items for the City of Kamloops 2022 budget, it is amazing how infrequently families are mentioned.
It is not that the Province or City have completely forgotten families. But families do not seem to be central to the budgets.
In the Provincial budget speech, families are mentioned 10 times, related to low-cost financing for housing, addiction services to support people returning to their families, and six references to affordable child care, as well as acknowledging the grief of Indigenous communities who had their children taken away and sent to residential schools.
In the Provincial budget speech, there were 22 mentions related to health and healthcare. There were 18 mentions of economy and economic growth. There were also 17 mentions of climate change.
Health, economy and climate change beat out families.
In the City of Kamloops Supplemental Budget, there are definitely some family focused items. The most obvious one is the Improving Accessible Playgrounds item. But others, such as City Hall LED Exterior Lighting don’t seem to be as family focused. The City supplemental budget is heavy on infrastructure, climate change, and urban wildlife rather than families.
When difficult times comes, it is families who are at the core of making sure the most vulnerable are looked after. They are at the core of ensuring everyone has a place to live, a meal to eat and the necessities of life. Whether war, fires, or floods, it is obvious that families, whether traditional, extended, or chosen, are there for each other.
One might argue that the economy, health care, climate change and infrastructure are what governments need to look after. But at the end of the day, it is families who hold things together in good times and bad. It’s time that both the Province and City put more focus in their budgets on supporting all types of families.
Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.