Hey, parents. Guess what? If you’ve made a leap of faith, and a few major sacrifices to raise your family in the Elk Valley, it may have been the best decision you’ve ever made. If your intentions were to give your children an appreciation for nature, a passion for outdoor activities and adventures, and a feeling of security that’s tough to come by these days, I have very good news for you. It’s working!!
When my second daughter was just a few months old, we packed up our family and got out of the city. We saw a better future for them here, and hoped that raising our kids in a community like this would enrich and enhance their lives. But I can’t lie. I’m not going to tell you that my kids were the sole reason we moved to Fernie. I had a lot of reasons. Most of them were completely selfish. I’m a Kootenay girl, and I wanted to come home. I wanted to have the option of driving to the ski hill wearing my ski boots and goggles. Turns out that’s dangerous. I wanted to walk down the street and know everybody I passed. (It’s happened twice. So far.) If I lost my cat, I wanted to post on Facebook that I lost it and have people comment back that they saw it. If I had a cat. You know what I mean? Basically, I wanted to live the small-town fantasy we see on TV. A little bit of Corner Gas meets South Park meets Hot Tub Time Machine. So far, so good.
But enough about me. Let’s get back to the kids. I was recently asked to come to the “living room of the community,” our very own Fernie Heritage Library, to talk to seven, eight, and nine-year-old kids about writing. I was curious what subjects would inspire the creativity of these young minds. What were they interested in writing about? After a twenty-minute debate that spanned a variety of topics, from what exactly is gluten, to the difference between the court house and city hall, to who lives closer to the dirt jumps, we agreed to agree on some things.
There were several consensus items. Dogs are cool. The pool is a happy place. Nobody is sure why the airport is called the airport. But the number one thing we could whole-heartedly agree on? We all love Fernie. We began working as a team to produce a giant map of our town. We drew our homes and favourite places. Scale, direction, major landmarks, and eventually even the correct spelling of Fernie were thrown out the window. We decided to draw, and then write, from the heart. As we worked, I asked the kids why the community of Fernie was so special to them. To be honest, I expected the answers to be quite nuclear. I love my family. I love my room. I love my toys. Instead, I heard what we were all hoping for when we chose to raise our children here. A deep love of nature and a passion for outdoor pursuits. An appreciation and recognition of the kinship and security we treasure in a small town. It was a heart-warming validation to every parent who sacrificed something to be here. So, give yourselves a pat on the back, parents. You did good.
What I love most about my community:
“Beautiful forests and wonderful animals. Nature fascinates me very much.” Gwen Cannon
“Wonderful hike and bike trails that are so fun.” Jarren Higgens Beck
“The trees and people and me.” Riley Knudsen
“I love Fernie because it’s safe.” Maggie Sutherland
“We have lots of dogs in town and we have a Barkside.” Makenna Peterson
“The mountains. I can ski and hike up them.” Himari Fukada
“I love all of Fernie!” Layla Hannath
“Everybody knows each other.” Olivia Dunn
“There are lots of plants and flowers and mountains. Fernie is very special and amazing.” Ella Fuller