NICKY BENZIE

What makes Fernie special to you? 

A friend once visited me in Fernie from the town we grew up in, back in suburban Ontario. As we were enjoying some local talent at Jam Night at the Brickhouse she leaned over to me and said “this town is full of weirdos.” I wear that statement like a badge of honour. The weirdos who live here have shown me what it means to be part of a community. We take care of each other here in a way that I’ve never experienced in a town before. Not only that, we all seem to have a similar goal in mind; work hard, play hard, although some definitely value one over the other.  If working until 1 pm, then heading to the ski hill for the afternoon, going to dinner downtown and maybe catching a concert afterwards, makes me a weirdo then I’m totally fine with that.


What makes you proud to be Canadian?

Of course, Canada is beautiful. The mountains, the coastlines, lakes and rivers, the vast northern tundra, the prairie sunsets and cool cityscapes are all breathtaking. I was filled with pride when this season of Planet Earth had a section in the Canadian Rockies. But, when thinking about the characteristics of Canada, there are a lot of ideal characteristics that come up for me: kindness, compassion, environmentalism, self-deprecating humour, politeness, generosity and fondness for ketchup chips. While I think the real Canada has a long way to go to live up to these ideals, what I admire so much are the individual Canadians who see these characteristics in themselves and work so hard to live up to the Canadian Ideal.


What is your Fernie story?

Like a lot of people in Fernie, I was only supposed to stay for the winter. When I left Ontario in the fall of 2011 I was sure that I would return come spring, but of course, that didn’t happen. I fell in love with the mountains, the river, 2nd Avenue and the people of Fernie. I found a job at the Women’s Centre and I was feeling pretty comfortable in my new surroundings. It wasn’t until I got sick that I realized how much I belonged in Fernie and how much this place meant to me. While receiving treatment in Toronto I found myself longing to get back to the support, the friends and the trails that kept me healthy and happy all those years. And while I can’t see into the future, I don’t anticipate leaving anytime soon.