Over the 14 months I worked at The Free Press, including the year I spent in the editor’s chair, I learned more than I thought I originally would. Going into this position, I was armed only with a fresh education and an appetite for a career. I had minimal experience reporting, especially in an area as connected as the Elk Valley.
Throughout the year, I have produced some work that I’m very proud of, and some that I’m sure was best used as kitty litter liner. But more importantly, I experienced Fernie and the Elk Valley in a way I’m not sure many other people get to do. Because of my job, I interviewed hundreds of people, including politicians, community leaders and hockey players. I have over 500 transcribed interviews in a folder on my desktop and probably another couple hundred in my emails. I learned so much about the characters and people making up the fabric of the Elk Valley in a different way, almost a more personal way, than someone just passing through. It has been a privilege to get to know the Valley in the way that I did, and I’m grateful for that.
My experience in the Elk Valley has been more than an extension of my journalism education. I learned lessons in gardening and cooking, in writing and following through on promises, in friendship and love. Being in Fernie allowed me the opportunity to revive friendships that I once thought dead. It allowed me to be supported by one of the strongest networks of friends I ever found. It allowed me to fall in love and learn from it. Those are lessons greater than I imagined I would learn when I came here, blind to everything but my ambition of pursuing a career.
All I can ask in going forward and leaving Fernie is to have made it a bit better than when I arrived. It’s the campsite rule – leave a place better than when you found it. I know Fernie bettered me, and I only hope I returned the same.
A not-so-secret fact is my unwavering love of Saturday Night Live. I adore the show, probably to an unfortunate degree. In 2013, Fred Armisen retired from the show after 13 years. In his farewell sketch, the final sketch of the 38th season, he sang the Ian Rubbish song, “It’s a Lovely Day.” He teared up as he repeated, “It’s been alright, I’ve had a lovely night with you,” in an English accent, surrounded by his cast mates Bill Hader, Jason Sudeikis and Taran Kilam. To me, that is the perfect way to say goodbye. It wasn’t always a stream of beer and roses in Fernie, but overall, it’s been my life, and it’s been great.
It really has been alright, and I’ve had some lovely nights with you.