In a valley where change is as inevitable as the cycling of seasons, no man is an island. With the blooms of spring bringing new life to our little corner of Valhalla, I must announce that I am leaving The Columbia Valley Pioneer and Invermere Valley Echo newspapers.
Although documenting the living history of my new home has been both exciting and challenging, I am moving on to live the dream of a mountain man with an exciting opportunity in the forestry sector.
When I first arrived in the East Kootenays from the Vancouver area, I was somewhat of a fawn in the world of press deadlines, interviews and news photography — my previous employment had been as a construction worker in the excavation and drainage field. Although I was inexperienced, the team at The Pioneer immediately offered shelter and tutelage in the ways of community journalism.
At first I was anxious and still a little wobbly in my writing, but I began to grow into my role as a reporter and discovered the seemingly-infinite choir of valley voices that make up our local ensemble. My dinner conversation topics at home have ranged from the courage of war survivors and those facing tough illnesses to the immense generosity and hard work of volunteers in our area.
Despite a rich ensemble of exciting story conversations, the life of a reporter can be tough. A journalist is constantly untying themselves from the safety of anonymity and pushing off into an ocean of positive and negative feedback, depending on the topic of a story. Without the navigation skills of the team at the Valley Echo and Pioneer, I would likely have capsized.
The personal connection to our community exhibited by sales team members Dean Midyette and Angela Krebs; the organizational skills and quick wit of office administrators Amanda Diakiw and Renice Oaks, the endless creativity of graphic designers Emily Rawbon and Jess de Groot, the guidance and integrity of editorial managers Greg Amos and Nicole Trigg, the enthusiasm of new reporter Dan Walton and the leadership of publisher Rose-Marie Regitnig: these are the reasons I have enjoyed coming to work every day.
In addition to the wealth of experiences that I have been blessed to share in during my time as a reporter, I have also been given mountain-sized opportunities behind the camera. The colourful hues of valley life seem to explode through the lens: from community fairs to ski racing, pictures would rather detonate into vibrant expressions of emotion and passion than come out typical or bland.
Being born and raised in the White Rock area, I grew up near the ocean, fulfilling the typical requirement of community spirit. I enjoyed living near the sea and appreciated the features that my hometown had to offer, but it was not until packing up my belongings and moving 800 kilometres away that I discovered a community mired in local pride and tradition.
A wise man I interviewed for a story on his globetrotting adventures told me of Valleyitis, which begins when a person sets foot in our area. The condition requires two years of exposure to incubate before becoming terminal, trapping the subject in the captivating beauty of our mountain community forever! Although I have only called Wilmer and Radium home for one year, I am finding that I may have a lesser immunity than I first thought.