Mary Giuliano wears many hats. She may be best known around town as the Mayor of Fernie, but Mary is also a dedicated volunteer, an active community member, and a long-time contributor to The Free Press.
After moving to Fernie from Italy in 1953 with her family, Mary’s introduction to the local newspaper came at an early age. “I’ve always had a really soft spot for The Free Press, even as a child, because my father always had the paper delivered to our house,” she remarked. “Even as an eight or nine-year-old I would read The Free Press.”
A true local, Mary grew up, went to school, was married, and raised her own children in Fernie. Through it all, she fondly remembers being a regular reader of The Free Press.
“The Free Press was privately owned for a long time, and the editors were quite fiery people,” she noted. “They took real strong stands against local issues and I just loved reading all the different editorials in the paper.”
It was in 1986 when Mary first became involved with The Free Press on a professional level. She took on the role of managing Kootenay Promotions, a separate section of the paper, and a few years later, she was asked to write.
“I started by doing light things, covering social things like weddings and all the other little social things that were happening in Fernie, and I really enjoyed that,” Mary said.
She then moved into writing weekly volunteer stories, before she found her passion, profiling members of the community.
“I just love doing the profiles because it gives you the opportunity to let people shine,” she shared. “I always like to emphasize all the good things they’ve done and the lives they led, because absolutely every life, is an interesting story, it really is. It doesn’t matter how mundane a person’s life seems, when you start digging a little bit, you find that it’s an interesting story.
“It’s just a wonderful feeling to be able to write something about someone that makes them feel good.”
Over the years Mary also worked as a reporter and served as an advocate for health issues within the community. “I’ve helped organize demonstrations when it looked like our hospital was going to shut down, I helped resolve issues for home support when people were being skipped, and The Free Press allowed me to get the word out, and that has been a real bonus for the community,” she said. “Without my involvement with The Free Press, it would not have allowed me that wonderful avenue of being able to let the public know.”
Publishers, editors, and staff members have come and gone over the years, but Mary believes the paper has stayed true to itself. She admits, “Definitely the style of writing has changed, and the things that are covered, but it’s still a community newspaper.”
She went on to say, “I think that’s the heart of The Free Press, is that it’s a community newspaper, not just for Fernie, but for the surrounding area. A community newspaper is special from other types of papers.
“I think people, especially the seniors that have been around the area for a long time, just feel a closeness with it. It’s like part of your family.”
Mary went on to serve as a councillor with the City for three terms and was elected the Mayor of Fernie in November 2011. She may not be on staff anymore, but Mary is still a regular contributor to the paper.
“I think The Free Press is an important part of the lives of the people that live here. I just hope it continues for hundreds more years. I’m really proud to be associated with it, even in a small way.”