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Paradise Lost?

The water sparkles in the sun, as kids and adults alike, play in the ocean, guarded by the distant snow-covered mountain peaks. Nuzzled along a short strip of BC’s west coast, and stretching back into the forest, is a small community that lives, at first glance, in its own protected world. We call it home, and it feels like paradise.

The ocean waters provide hours and days of entertainment for swimmers, kayakers, and beach players. Sandcastles, log forts and rock piles decorate the beach as the children run and laugh, and work to build the pictures in their heads. Roses, along the edge of the beach, sway in the breeze, releasing their sweet fragrance. It truly is a piece of paradise.

The beach is community and this community is only accessible by water.

The children are loved by everyone. Wherever they are in the community, they are greeted by name, and watched over – by teachers, and other parents. During school hours, children help build the community. They help clean the beaches, plant wild roses along the edges, and work in the school garden that provides vegetables for anyone who wants or needs them.

The forests, beaches, and mountains are the playground for children and adults. They’re used for plays and performances, golfing, swimming, skiing, foraging, geo-cashing, yoga, pilates and general exercise.

Community gatherings are common and frequently focus around food, art or books. Dozens of talented painters, sculptors, potters and glass workers open their homes to visitors each year, to show their artwork and make money for the coming months.

Local fishermen bring in salmon, cod, halibut and shellfish to sell and share with the community. The smell of cooking fish in the air attracts a hungry gathering as fish and chips, and fried and boiled shellfish are cooked in the open. Although not invited, the resident bears, whose land we have confiscated, do come to visit as well.

Book festivals attract top authors from all over Canada and the U.S., who come for the money but linger for the beauty in paradise.

July brings the community paint-in, where adults and children together, design and paint a new, 30-foot, round mandela, in brilliant colours, on a paved circle near the beach. A new design each year reflects some aspect of the nature surrounding us, featuring owls, fish, whales, sea otters, bears or one of nature’s other creatures.

July also brings the week-long Celtic Festival, when both children and adults line up to take lessons in violin, piano, cello, guitar and flute. Teachers have come from Ireland, Scotland and the east coasts of Canada and the U.S. to our little corner of paradise. The air is full of music for the entire week, as impromptu jam sessions are held outside of the school, in the local café, and outside in the parks, and on the beaches. It is always a week full of laughter, dancing and much, much wonderful music. And the lessons continue from local teachers all year long.

Year round, children and adults walk the beaches that stretch the full length of the community, and play on the forest trails dominated by large fir, cedar and pine trees. Walking along the mossy paths refreshes our entire beings, as the sounds of deep silence settle into our souls.

When tired after a day at the beach, or a walk in the forests picking mushrooms or blueberries, we may meander over to the Gumboot Café for a snack before returning home to do our chores, and relax for the evening.

This evening, I sit on my deck and listen to the frogs croaking in the pond. Gradually, they quiet, and the last of the birds settle in for the night. I listen to the silence, the deep, profound silence of paradise.

And know that in that silence, among all that beauty, lurks greed and evil.

As I reflect on the beauty and potential of our community, I ask how such evil can happen? … A child died today. A young man really. The beloved son of a friend is gone from a tainted drug overdose. How did we miss that? How could we not see what was happening?

Oh we know how it happens. Our little community has been turned into the port for many of the drugs coming into BC. After all, no one guards our little wharf, and we’re only a 45-minute ferry ride from Vancouver – where the ports are guarded closely, but the ferries are not. And in their greed, not content with the numbers they access in a larger city, the traffickers involve some of our children too, wherever they can.

Our children are not more important than the children in Vancouver of course, but we know and love them, and they were ours before they were stolen. Our hearts break as we see that our paradise, as we knew it, is lost.

We will fight, because we have no choice. But this is not a battle easily won.