When I started at the 100 Mile Free Press in January, I had no idea what would be in store for me.
You might imagine, having moved back from Canada’s capital, and most recently a West African city of over a million people, I was not entirely thrilled to be moving back to small-town B.C.
Boy, I couldn’t have been more mistaken.
First, my colleagues at the Free Press made this office one of the best places I’ve worked at. From being incredibly generous with their time, knowledge and expertise, to being able to bounce ideas and stories off of everyone, to spending as much time laughing as we do working, it’s been more than a pleasure to work here.
100 Mile House itself was a surprise as well. From your robust arts scene to the individuals who are working to make their community a better place, I’ve had amazing conversations and seen an incredible dedication to this part of the world and the people in it across the South Cariboo.
I’ve had the pleasure and privilege to write about anything from grizzlies being chased off of porches with a broom, to squirrels sparking wildfires, to vandalized bicycle parks and the provincial election.
While my hockey know-how is occasionally lacking, and I once asked someone what the word for “archer” is, spending the rest of the interview referring to archers as “archer-ers,” I’ve thoroughly enjoyed photographing and covering the athletes the South Cariboo has produced.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this summer’s wildfires.
When the Gustafsen and Elephant Hill wildfires started on July 6, I could not have asked for a better team to work with.
The Free Press’s editor, Max Winkelman, and myself stayed late into the evening as what seemed a minor fire soon proved itself dangerous.
The next three weeks and coming months were made so much easier by the knowledge that Max had my back, that the entire community came together, that individuals picked up the phone and answered emails at all hours to help us pass along information, that I was able to tell some amazing stories of the resilient people that make up South Cariboo communities, and that what we were doing mattered.
Now to the hard part.
I was recently given the opportunity to move to the Williams Lake Tribune, the Free Press’ sister paper.
As I told the staff at the Free Press, this was not a decision that I wanted to make, nor was it an easy one.
When I moved back to the Cariboo in December, after having lived away from home for six years, my hope was to be closer to my family and friends in Williams Lake.
To many of those friends and family, losing my daily commute and officially moving home seemed the obvious choice.
It wasn’t. Ultimately, the decision to move to the Tribune was made with the above in mind, but know that you made it hard to go.
It feels like I am leaving too soon, with so much work still to be done, with the recovery of the South Cariboo barely in the works, but I know the current staff of the Free Press is entirely capable of the task.
I’m happy to welcome Brendan to the team and I hope he will find the South Cariboo as welcoming and as caring as I have.
My last day at the Free Press will be Oct. 31.
To everyone in the South Cariboo, thank you for your patience in helping me understand the area, your cheerfulness when asked the same questions for the nth time, and most of all, for sharing and trusting me with your stories.
Thank you for letting me be a part of it these past 10 months.