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The Barriere Seniors Society Canadian flag stolen while they continue to serve

Stolen flag at the Barriere Seniors Centre disappoints hard working members
The Barriere Seniors Centre flag was recently stolen in early April from the grounds at the popular community centre, leaving an empty pole. The flag was a gift from MP Frank Caputo and the members of the society are hoping it will be returned. (Photo by: Hettie Buck)

The Barriere and District Seniors Society (BDSS) is a volunteer-run non-profit that has been a social hub for the community for many years. The drop-in type centre offers a wide variety of free and inexpensive programs, events and activities, not only to seniors but often all ages in the community.

An active member of the BDSS, Wim Houben, suddenly noticed the centre was missing its large Canadian flag in front of the building which was attached to a tall flagpole that had been erected there when MP Frank Caputo gifted the flag to the society.

President of the BDSS, Mary-Lou Jones, told Black Press about the theft saying, “We were so upset to find our flag gone. We were really proud of the flag as it had been a gift from Frank Caputo’s office, they are quite expensive and the rigging itself can also be quite costly. That isn’t the only vandalism we’ve seen around the Seniors Centre. We’ve had so many great donations from other community organizations such as the Community Forests donating picnic tables and benches for our outside patio area for the summer season, a covered area there as well that is lit up in the evening - except that every time we install new light bulbs they get broken and we come back to find glass everywhere so we’ve decided to stop replacing them now.”

Jones shared more about continuous vandalism around the community hub at the Seniors Centre pointing up towards the roof of the large building, adding, “You see the large fans and big vent hood at the top on the roof there? They’ve even climbed onto the roof and kicked them off. Not just once. It does get discouraging. We have cameras on one side of the building but not on the side the flag was taken on. We’ll be looking at doing that soon.”

The building is a hive of activity during the week and on weekends with the society offering reduced rentals for other organizations, groups or workshops there as well. During the weekly bingo on the first Friday of each month a large crowd will begin to arrive for an evening of socializing and fun starting at 5 p.m. with the centre offering hotdogs, sandwiches, coffee, tea, and assorted non-alcoholic beverages with proceeds from a 50/50 draw, the concession and bingo going towards the North Thompson Activity Centre After-School Program and to support the BDSS as well.

Recently the centre’s large commercial kitchen has been undergoing some much needed upgrades and renovations such as new cupboards, countertops and will soon be taking delivery of a large new stove, cooktop range and overhead hood. The organization will be generously donating the older stove to the Barriere Lions for future events. Jones said, “A Horizon’s Seniors Grant gave us enough funding for a new stove and some new office equipment such as a computer, printer and the Lower North Thompson Community Forest Society gave us $12,500 towards the kitchen renovation. Our first estimate from the city was over $40,000 and we just couldn’t afford that. We ended up receiving a seniors grant from Kamloops to pay for the countertops at the cost of $3,000 and we earned the rest of the money to cover the renovations that are long overdue by doing fundraisers in the community. Our society has also raised our own money to buy our bingo equipment and raised another $10,000 for the bingo machine itself.”

The group is looking forward to the renovations being completed soon enabling them to be able to serve hot meals once again.

The BDSS has 36 working members this year and they are always looking for other volunteers to join the membership. Jones has been president for two years and even though they have gone through these recent thefts and vandalism, stated, “I guess someone else needed the flag more than we do. But really, I hope they reconsider and return it to us. We were so proud of the flag as our previous one had worn out and it was nice to have a new one flying. I just love this valley, our community and the people here which is why I am involved with the seniors’ centre. We work collectively with other groups and the District of Barriere to provide a nice place for people to gather together. We know that most people appreciate what we do and that is what makes what we do so rewarding.”

To contact the Barriere and District Seniors Society you can reach them via email at:

Other community groups such as the Lower North Thompson Community Forests and the District of Barriere have donated to the improvements around the Barriere Seniors Society Centre but vandals continue to break lightbulbs, kick vents from the top of the roof and leave garbage on the grounds when it’s after hours. (Photo by: Hettie Buck)
President of the Barriere Seniors Society, Mary-Lou Jones, is excited to have the kitchen renovations almost complete at the centre but wishes the vandalism would end. Seen here on April 5 getting ready for the first of the month Bingo and 50/50 co sponsored with the North Thompson Activity Centre After School Program. (Photo by: Hettie Buck)

About the Author: Hettie Buck

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