Not too long ago the thought crossed my mind that I might stay in the Elk Valley forever. This conglomerate of communities I landed in almost by accident turned out to be the place I call home, more than any other place I have lived in before. For the first time I have purpose, a sense of belonging, and feel welcome.
Never before have I felt this, not even in the town I was raised.
Three years, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t a lot. However for me, these past three years have been pivotal. In the past 1,105 days I have had the pleasure of speaking with several thousand of you, which in turn has led me to produce over a thousand stories for The Free Press. During this time I have grown immensely, both as a journalist and as a person, and I have all of you to thank for that. No matter where I end up, the friendships I have made here will stay with me forever.
Every day I go to work I am grateful that I am able to do what I do. It is a privilege to be journalist, and an honour to be called a voice for the people.
Before coming to Fernie I had my heart set on other things. Upon graduating photojournalism school in Ontario, I thought I was ready to fulfill my lifelong dream; travel overseas, photograph hardship, shed light on stories untold. When it came time to apply for internships, one of my professors learned of my plans and took me aside. He told me that some of the best stories he ever documented came from small towns across Canada, and that these kinds of places should not be overlooked or underestimated.
Although I doubted him at the time, I decided to test this theory and started my career in Lloydminster, Sask. However, it wasn’t until I came to Fernie that I understood what he meant. The Elk Valley and South Country contain world-class stories, some of which I have documented and others that are waiting to be told.
This is the last editorial I will write for The Free Press, at least for a while. My bags are (almost) packed and I am ready to start a new adventure in the Okanagan.
Of all the stories I have written, this ranks up there with the hardest, because I really don’t know what to say. What I hope to get across more than anything is how extremely grateful I am to have spent this time with you.
Thank you, first of all, for picking up The Free Press every Thursday morning. Thank you for opening your doors, and hearts to me. Thank you for your late night cold calls or messages with story tips about happenings in the community. Thank you for waving hello in the street. Thank you for your criticism and your compliments.
A newspaper is a living, breathing thing. It is fed by your ideas and stories, digested by journalists and produced by the unsung heroes who work tirelessly and thanklessly in the background. Being the face of the paper, I have admittedly taken a lot of credit for what we have produced over the years, but in all reality, it is a combined effort of my incredible team of problem solvers who I am privileged to call my family.
Even though I am leaving the valley, I hope, in a way, you don’t even notice. I hope the newspaper continues to thrive. I hope The Free Press can continue to provide you with honest, true, balanced journalism for many more years to come, as it has for the past 120.
I wish you all the best.