What makes Fernie special to you?
I took Fernie for granted in my youth. Having returned and created a fulfilling life here with my family, I am genuinely filled with gratitude every day. Living in Fernie means I have the opportunity to spend time with my kids and spend time in the office. It means I can whip into the mountains on a moment’s notice, year-round. Within five to ten minutes from leaving any doorstep, you can ski, bike or run the world’s best terrain. It means my children are growing up with an appreciation for the outdoors and being a part of a strong and active community. The longer I live here, the prouder I become of Fernie and how it is evolving. People here are engaged and supportive. We celebrate one another’s successes, and we lift one another up when needed. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.
What makes you proud to be Canadian?
My parents are from Europe and whenever I have spent time there, people always ask if we live close to Vancouver. When I say yes, followed by it’s a ten-hour drive their faces always drop. You see Finland and Italy (my mom and dad’s home countries) could fit into BC, so to them, it’s an unimaginable distance to travel especially by car. But to anyone from Canada, driving across a province is nothing. Most of us have driven across the country! I love how vast and diverse Canada is, and how this is echoed in the diversity of its people.
What is your Fernie story?
My Nonno left San Giovanni in Fiore, Italy to mine coal in Fernie, BC in 1953. After three years, he saved up enough money for his wife and children to make the same journey… across the Atlantic by boat, Canada by train, and the distance between Medicine Hat and the Elk Valley by car. I know the story well, always ending with my Nana exclaiming… “I think to myself, I will die here. But now, it’s not so bad.”
They first lived just blocks from where I am living now, in Little Italy just off of downtown. When my Nonno passed away, my dad took a year off of university to be at home with his mom and sisters. It was that same year a young Finnish girl decided to travel to Canada to work at a hair salon in Fernie, BC… just for a year. They’ve been married over forty years, and I feel so fortunate to be raising my girls in Fernie alongside them, as there is nothing quite like having a close relationship with your grandparents. My Nana was my best friend.
It’s safe to say my family keeps me in Fernie. But the opportunity to publish the Fernie Fix really makes living here possible and more worthwhile than I could have ever anticipated. It has connected Vanessa and I with the community of Fernie and its residents and allowed us to share so many incredible stories over the years. We fall in love with Fernie, again and again with each issue we put together.