While in high school, I was somewhat aware of the Kootenay Learning Campus (KLC) but thought it was specifically for individuals who were keen to work on their own, were going to be away, or wanted to upgrade. It wasn’t until the pandemic began that I became more curious about the KLC.
My daughters are enamoured with horses and have been since they were wee. Last summer, they had weekly classes at Love it or Leave it Ranch and the love only grew. Not only did these lessons teach them how to ride horses, they also learned how to properly take care of them, move around them, and feel at ease with them. I was amazed at the progression.
Lately, my social media has been full of live feeds and great results from our local girls’ volleyball teams… and I have been loving every minute of it! From the amazing Summer Olympic women’s soccer’s athleticism and coverage last year, to the continuation of some of the best hockey I’ve ever seen at the Winter Olympics performed by women this winter, to a growth and focus on girls’ volleyball in Fernie… what a joy, and something I hope has become the new norm.
Whether here for a visit, for the season or year-round, kids in Fernie have it pretty good in the summer months. I can’t get over the options available to them – from bike camps to horse riding, gymnastics to river exploration, drama to reading clubs… it can be almost overwhelming to decide!
Over the last couple of months, I have had multiple dreams of being with my Nana. (The most recent the night before writing this.) She was my best friend and passed away seven years ago April 1. I was expecting my second daughter at the time, whose due date was mid-April but we would wait an extra two weeks before meeting her, as I became extremely ill after my Nana’s passing with a chest infection.
Not surprisingly, the value of recreation has become even more pronounced these last couple of years. Alongside the freedom and enjoyment it provides, the physical and mental health benefits have helped many to navigate challenging times.
Fernie draws people from around the world, and fortunately for this small mountain town many fall so in love that they return with their talents and expertise and begin unique businesses, adding to the already impressive array of entrepreneurs and the offerings available here.
When it comes to drinks of all sorts, you will find a surprising number of locally crafted options while in Fernie. Make sure to check out these while here, your tastebuds will thank you.
Breweries and Cafés
I am an abstract artist that paints intuitively, with the goal to elicit joy. My paintings are an internal expression of what is occurring around me. I’m inspired to paint when happy, so I often hear that my paintings are fresh, joyful and fun. It makes sense, because I like fun! I paint with music and am most happy when I can paint outside by the river or in my backyard with a view of the mountains.
Have you ever heard someone say, “if you want something done, ask the busiest person you know?” I have, and one of my people is Courtney Baker.
Recently at a City of Fernie meeting, Sylvia Ayers was presenting to council regarding a ban on plastic bags in our community. As part of the presentation, the École Isabella Dicken Elementary School (ÉIDES) Environment Club had created a video with their thoughts and concerns about plastics.
“I let them go completely off script,” Russ Hanson tells me, a teacher at ÉIDES who runs the club. “And while it was a risk, it had so much more impact.” Yes, it did. I am sure there wasn’t a dry eye in attendance.
Spending so much time at the elementary school, it is hard not to notice the male to female ratio of teachers, student services and youth care workers. Currently, out of 33 positions there are two male representatives. The real differences can be found in leadership roles. Both the Vice Principals and Principals at EIDES and FSS are women. And young women, at that.
Recently, my eldest daughter started calling me bossy. The first few times, I didn’t address it. But when I heard my younger daughter call the eldest bossy, I stopped what I was doing. I sat down on the floor with them (they were getting dressed to go skiing), and I asked what they think bossy means, and what does Mom do that makes them feel like I am being bossy. Not surprisingly, asking them to do things, reminding them of the plan etc. equates to ‘bossy’ in their six and eight-year old minds.
During the winter season, many of us start our mornings by checking the Mountain Weather on skifernie.com. After so many years, forecaster Ron Lakeman feels like a trustworthy old friend, who puts honesty first whether it’s rain or massive amounts of snow he’s sharing with us that day. Ron is how we stay connected with the weather, how we make our plans for the week ahead… “okay, well ‘heavy at times’ on Tuesday night. Wednesday morning office chair it is!”
So, just who is Ron and how did he get into meteorology?
It’s been 22 months since COVID-19 threw us all a bit off course. There are many adjectives we could use to describe the ups and downs during this time, but the reality is shifting the focus to moving forward is the most productive and healthiest choice.
I was having some difficulty thinking of who to feature in the Kickstart Issue, and Vanessa immediately said ‘Abi!’ - someone I never thought of because to be honest I typically shy away from featuring my friends. But, yes! Abi Moore knows how to get things started better than anyone I know, and since she’s off in Scotland for the winter with her parents, we planned an afternoon (evening) zoom with a coffee (beer) in hand!
When I think about the holidays, Christmas Eve is at the heart of it all. We always were allowed to open one present (once we opened them all, and that was a lesson learned), and my mom made sure it was a dress for that evening’s celebrations
Recently, Vanessa and I subdivided our office to allow room for another business. With less than ½ the space, it meant downsizing…. a lot. We have kept many copies of every issue printed, and over the last 15 years there have been just two occasions that resulted in a major reorganization. While both were overwhelming, they were also therapeutic.
I’m tired. My emotions are surprisingly close to the surface. I care less about things that used to be so important to me. My faith in humanity is dwindling.
Black and white. Us and them. Old and young. Boy and girl. Big and small. Short and tall. Local and visitor.
We grow up learning of ‘the other.’ Defining things and people by these attributes. Putting one another into boxes. And you know what? It just has to end.
Over the last few years I have had the opportunity to sit on the Tourism Master Plan committee with an impressive group of Fernie residents and leaders. This plan, supported by Tourism Fernie, the City of Fernie, the Regional District of the East Kootenays (RDEK), and the Columbia Basin Trust, is a framework to ensure the direction of tourism in the Fernie area reflects the needs and interests of residents, and also that tourism is sustainable in future.
During this summer's first heat wave, it was extremely challenging to find things to do with the kids. With a Park Pass at Fernie Alpine Resort, and it being community week, I decided on an exciting, lift-access hiking adventure… I mean, how could they say no to a ride up, and a hike (downhill!) to the base?
Last year, when the pandemic hit and my two girls were suddenly home I felt a heavy responsibility to keep them active physically and mentally, on top of staying safe. Where better to take the learning than outdoors? Each week, I would shake things up by heading somewhere new and inspiring. Reading circle at Silver Springs. Science class in the Old Growth or at Matheson Falls. Gym class at the Fernie Alpine Resort (FAR) Aerial Park. Many of our ‘classrooms’ I hadn’t been to in years, and some never! They were shocked, ‘but you grew up here!?’
Many years ago, Terry Nelson came into our office and asked if we could help him publish a book. We had recently published the Fernie Mountain Bike Guide… written by me and designed and laid out by my partner in crime, Vanessa. Terry wanted something similar but hike-specific using the information he had been compiling for years. It was an enthusiastic ‘yes,’ we gave him some direction, and didn’t hear back from him until 2018. The Fernie Trails and Natural Plant Compendium was published early the following year.