What makes Fernie special to you?
Fernie is the best of all worlds. It has a bustling arts community, an incredible museum and archives, a fantastic public library, a burgeoning LGBTQ community, more types of sport that you can count and yet retains the feeling of a small town. I walk after dark without fear. I go places alone and don’t feel strange.
The citizens of Fernie care for each other, whether they’ve lived here for generations, or chose to relocate here. I know the Mayor by name and know if I need to discuss something of concern, she will make time for me, or for any citizen of Fernie. For me, as a relative newcomer to the city, I don’t feel there is a class structure here, where you have to earn respect and affection from the community…it’s already there from day one.
Whenever I walk downtown, or anywhere in Fernie for that matter, I am always greeted with smiling faces and a wave, a handshake or a hug. People congregate to chat with one another and don’t make the newcomers feel strange or unwanted. When I walk into the drugstore, Lee knows me and my medical needs.
It’s quite common to see folks gathering for coffee at favourite haunts on a daily basis, and if you ask to join them you are always made welcome. Quite simply, to me, Fernie is home.
What makes you proud to be Canadian?
Canada is a multicultural country where many languages are spoken and many religions are practiced. While I was heartsick at the Mosque shooting in Quebec, what gave me great hope was the love shown in the neighbourhood. Muslim standing with Christian and Jew; with Atheist and Agnostic. Coming together to prove that love is stronger than hate.
In Fernie I participated in a vigil for the Mosque shooting. There was a small collection of people who gathered to grieve, to rant, to remember and to lament. There were people of all ages, gathering from different backgrounds; needing to feel connected to another human being to try and make sense of the senseless. While we didn’t right any of the wrongs of the world, we did see the humanity in each other and find hope and strength for our future, shoulder to shoulder with our Muslim brothers and sisters in Fernie, the Elk Valley and beyond.
My parents immigrated to Canada at the end of 1966, from Manchester, England. They moved into their house in early 1967 and I was born at the end of November the same year. My Dad always used to say I was their Centennial project, and as we proudly celebrate Canada’s Sesquicentennial, I am proud to be celebrating a half-century of life.
What is your Fernie story?
I moved to Fernie at the end of January 2016 as Incumbent at Christ Church Anglican on 4th Avenue. Before I even arrived I fell in love with the congregation and their kindness. Only four people knew my name (those who were on the Personnel Commission) and just before Christmas I received a Christmas card signed by the congregation. They knew someone had been hired, but had no idea who. When I arrived after four long days of driving, the fridge and cupboards were stocked, the beds made and the house was ready for me to move in.
I’ve been in Fernie just over a year now, my anniversary date is 1 February. I love this community. How friendly they are. I feel very much like a Vicar in an old English village. I see people at the Post Office, or IGS or Save-On and they come up and say hello. Many of these folks don’t go to Church, but have met me at a function somewhere and want to say hi. I am the Priest and Incumbent of Christ Anglican Church, but more than that, I am a proud member of the community. I feel like I belong here, not like a visitor. I feel like family and that’s a wonderful feeling indeed. The mountains are in my blood and there is nowhere else I’d rather call home.
I am the Priest and Incumbent of Christ Anglican Church, but more than that, I am a proud member of the community. I feel like I belong here, not like a visitor. I feel like family and that’s a wonderful feeling indeed. The mountains are in my blood and there is nowhere else I’d rather call home.