June 2016 Editor's Fix
It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength. ~ Maya Angelou
Growing up in the Elk Valley during the ‘80s and ‘90s had many benefits. From the close-knit, safe community to the recreational opportunities, I look back and am able to understand why these years are often referred to as golden.
Fernie and area has evolved in spades since then, while still managing to retain its authenticity and character. Living back here and being so involved with the community through work and other interests, I sometimes take for granted how far this little coal town has come. It seems so similar, until I take the time to reflect on the differences.
Diversification is definitely a word I gravitate toward when thinking about these changes. Take for example Fernie’s culinary scene. The options are impressive to say the least. Or consider our sport shops: from the trusty standards of the Ski Base and Fernie Sports to over six operating in downtown and more at the ski hill. Coffee shops? I remember when Cappuccino Corner opened where Big Bang currently resides. It was such a novelty, and the only one of its kind. Now, even though we have numerous cafes with more on the way, each is unique in its own respect.
But where the word really shines, is in regards to the people that call this area home or enjoy visiting our mountain community. Residents have always provided a colourful international background. Many of us have ancestors who arrived in Fernie in search of a better or different life. Then it was the industries and the work they offered that drew people. This continues today, but the lifestyle offered here is also a lure. For example, during the ski season I’ve met individuals from as far away as New Zealand to Sweden, Japan to England. A number of these people stay on for the summer season, some for life.
Additionally, with so many countries in crisis, many are fleeing their own country for the safety of their family or to financially support their family back home. Fernie residents, businesses and organizations have been working hard to welcome these refugees and immigrants to our community. Organizations such as Fernie Friends of Refugees and the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy have been operating in our community for this purpose, and these new residents are continually adding a beautiful cultural flare to our community.
Diversity is something to be embraced, not feared. Young children can be so honest and genuine when noticing something new or different. They look at the world with wonder, and absorb what they are taught like little sponges. What an opportunity to encourage love and acceptance. What an opportunity to learn from our children, and to recognize that this truly adds beauty and strength to our community… that Fernie is still and will always be golden.