What makes Fernie special to you?
My favourite thing about Fernie is the people. There is an energy here that attracts amazing people and there is enough going on in this magical place to sustain those amazing people year round. I enjoy being able to walk down the street at any time of day and see people that I haven’t seen for a day, a week or a month and feel like I need to hug them. It is something that can be taken for granted but when people with an outside perspective notice this and point this out as something that wouldn’t happen where they’re from, I am reminded of a time when hugging and chatting to 5 humans on a (normally) 2 minute walk between places would have been considered slight overkill. The extra minutes gained from this interaction makes Fernie above and beyond the best place for human interaction I have lived in, insurmountably surpassing the days of being in a place where the norm is to put your head down to avoid that contact for fear of being late to work or a class or simply because you didn’t feel like it.
I also love the fact that there is never a shortage of these lovely people that want to do stuff. The stuff and the people definitely change from season to season, but there is never a shortage of stuff and there are definitely always people that want to partake. From the vigorous mountain life to the casual river floats, from team sports to the individual endeavor, there is something for the competitive, adventurous and creative person in all of us in Fernie.
What makes you proud to be living in Canada?
I originally hail from Australia, although I have been in Canada since 2007 after also doing a quick season in 2003/04. That was when I first saw snow, learned how to ski, learned how to snowmobile and mush a dogsled. That first season represented a lot of firsts for me and was the tip of the iceberg that meant Canada was never too far from my thought process when it came to what to do with my post-University life. Rather than go through the “normal” process of graduate interviews with the major firms in Brisbane in my final year of my law degree, I booked a flight back to Canada to start a new first, which was to take up snowboarding. Whilst snowboarding now is a small part of what I do here, I have taken up many things in Canada throughout the years and love it all. I am definitely part of that age-old adage – come for winter, stay for summer. The hectic cycle of the Canadian seasons has had me forever looking forward to the next, especially when spring and fall both have their charms.
In my experience, Canada as a country is a lot more open and accepting than Australia. As a person that has a diverse background, my experience in Canada is that you are a lot more likely to be treated as the person that you are rather than the stereotype that you may represent. Canada has allowed me to live my life as me and I enjoy the journey that is discovering who that “me” is over time.
I have taken steps in my life in the past few years to strengthen my Canadian residency application and that is now in the works and I am hopeful to hear back in the summer time.
What is your Fernie story?
I have been in Canada for nearly a decade, having started out in Whistler in 2007. After the craziness of the Winter Olympics in 2010, I decided to join a couple of friends travelling Mexico and Central America, which turned out to be a life-changing and character-building experience. When I returned to Canada 8 months later I had done a lot of travelling by myself and to a lot of small towns in amazing countries and I was a different human. Whilst I loved my friends in Whistler and enjoyed my job, I could no longer stay in the hyper-manic tourism machine that I now felt Whistler had become to me. In a search for something different, I came to Fernie to visit a friend in September in 2011. After a couple of weeks I had decided I would move here and my wonderful friends in Whistler drove out in a campervan with all of my ski/snowboard equipment and the rest of my worldly effects. It has been over 5 years since then and because I still feel like I have only touched on what Fernie has to offer, I hope (Canadian residency pending) that I will be here for another 5 more at least. Every season there are things that I haven’t done enough of, or things I haven’t been involved in yet and it is those things, as well as the people, that make me want to stay.