I am fortunate to meet a lot of people, many of whom do not live in Fernie, but most of them wish they did. One of the things I hear over and over again is “It is our dream to live in Fernie.”
Personally, I feel so fortunate to live in Fernie, but I must admit, when I arrived here 25 years ago, I did not feel that way. Make no mistake, I liked the town well enough, I just felt as though the town did not like me.
I arrived in November, which I soon came to realize was the same time as the skiers and boarders landed in Fernie. I was lumped into this group although I neither ski nor board. This was a different time, where visitors were not always made to feel welcome. It was awkward to say the least. It took a long time to get past that feeling.
It was explained to me “the locals don’t like change.” That was then.
Fast forward 25 years, and I find myself proud to call Fernie home. Times have changed, attitudes have changed, maybe those of the locals, maybe my own, and maybe both. I might never know the answer to that, but what I do know is that the population of Fernie has become diverse, and it seems to me that Fernie has become a happier place.
Maybe we have become used to it, as the swing in population is not as great from season to season. With the influx of tourists in the summer increasing, the population seems to remain more constant.
For whatever reason, I have come to love this town, and even more than that, the melting pot of people that call Fernie home. I have come to care about how visitors feel when they arrive in town, and how the locals’ feel when the visitors arrive. I want the balance to be as it is now. It is comfortable. I think it might even be comfortable for someone who arrives in November. This I cannot say for certain however, as I am not a local.
Long ago I realized that no matter how long I stayed in Fernie, I would not be a “local”. That is ok; I have come to accept that, just as I have come to accept “Fernie time.”
I am grateful to be a part of this amazing community, I am proud to call Fernie home, and for the next while at least, I will be honoured to take on the role of publisher of this voice of the valley.