GORDON SOMBROWSKI

What makes Fernie special to you?

Fernie is maturing into one of those rare places: a small charming town where open-minded, caring, diverse people who revel in art, music and literature can also enjoy the opportunity for outdoor and community sport. A town which values and is striving to preserve its architectural, cultural, ethnic and historic heritage. To have such a community set in the sublime landscape of the Rocky Mountains in which a rich variety of wildlife still thrives (for now – let us hope forever) and where four almost perfect seasons provide an ever changing panoply of colour to live in is a great blessing. Fernie is not a place without problems but our problems are manageable, with realistic hope for solutions and improvements, and this too is rare. I once saw a book entitled: “Heaven is a Place in the Rockies”. I think the writer meant Fernie.


What makes you proud to be a Canadian?

I have had a complicated relationship with Canada. At my birth, I was defined by Canada as someone who was going to be a criminal. I was just old enough to start knowing that I was going to grow up to be a criminal when finally the state got out of the bedrooms of the nation. In 1969, homosexuality was decriminalized by the Parliament of Canada.  I remember somehow instinctively realizing the change in the law was going to help change my future. But changing that law didn’t suddenly change life in Canada and I very quickly learned that people still discriminated against me by denying me and people like me jobs, homes, and the ability to live openly and freely. I questioned my place in Canada throughout all of my teen years until my mid-thirties. I even lived abroad for much of the 1980’s wondering if I would be able to have a better, freer life in Europe than in Canada. On a courageous whim, I returned to Fernie in 1989 hoping I could make a life in Canada, thinking maybe I could work for change in Canada. It was not until 1995 when the Supreme Court of Canada read LGBT protection into the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that I began to believe that I had a real future in Canada. I did not, however, feel like I was a true citizen of Canada until 2005 when same-sex marriage was legalized and I was given the same standing as other Canadians. I can still clearly remember the feeling that I had that day when the Parliament of Canada passed the legislation. Suddenly we all had true equality. I actually said to the people I was with that day, “Today, for the first time in my life, I feel like I am a citizen of Canada!”


What is your Fernie story?

My Fernie story is simple. I am a child of the Rocky Mountains. I am here because of the stories that have been written here and are yet to be written here. There is no better place for me to write them.

One Reply to “GORDON SOMBROWSKI”

  1. I’m very glad that life worked out for you in Canada and in Fernie.
    You are a huge asset to this community.

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