Terrace residents lined up for Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen’s last community barbecue fundraiser Wednesday afternoon.
For the last 15 years, Cullen has held barbecues throughout the region as a way of bringing local organizations and people together. This one is Cullen’s last before he officially retires from the position this fall.
“I feel quite proud,” Cullen says. “Our first one…people told me I had to throw barbecues because that’s what politicians do. But not having been a politician, I didn’t understand why you would do that for no particular reason. We had this idea of always having a local charity that we would donate the money to, and that group would pick next year’s group.”
Skeena Diversity Society, last year’s recipient, chose non-profit Plastic Free Terrace this year. The Terrace Professional Firefighters Union volunteered to man the grill, and RCMP Const. Crystal Evelyn and Skeena Diversity Society were helping serve out plates.
Plastic Free Terrace has a booth set up showcasing some examples of plastic-free alternatives, and the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine has a tent next to it to answer questions about recycling and waste management.
“I found the barbecue has been able to connect community more than before,” Cullen says. “It’s just a little barbecue, but I’m really happy we did it that way. Why not have people feel good about having some food?”
Plastic Free Terrace founder Leticia Kistamas secured her non-profit license last month since starting the group seven months ago. The barbecue itself is a zero-waste event with compostable plates and utensils, and encourages people to bring their own water containers.
“It’s so amazing, it’s great,” Kistamas says. “It’s been spreading, and people are more receptive to [going plastic-free] than they were at the beginning.”
Kistamas says she will use the money to organize more workshops and educational events to raise awareness, as she has been using her own money to fund Plastic Free Terrace since it began.
While the future of the community barbecues is unknown, Cullen says NDP nominee Taylor Bacharach may be interested in continuing the tradition should he win the election in the fall.
The barbecue charged $5 per plate and raised $1,212 for Plastic Free Terrace.