Almost three years ago, I arrived in tears and at midnight.
In usual fashion, I got to Revelstoke the day before I started at the Review. I was listening to a podcast about the Las Vegas shooting in 2017 at a music festival. Of the 58 people that died, four were from Canada and one was from my high school graduating class.
However, I soon wiped away my tears when I met my new housemate, a young mom with two kids. They were lovely, as were my new coworkers and community.
At school, the professors never talked about being a community journalist. The guest lecturers were always reporters with audiences in the millions, and never a community of under 10,000 people. It’s different at the national level as you tend to be more removed from your stories. A provincial journalist does not usually report on their neighbour that is being sued for alleged sexual assault of a minor, nor do they usually interview their surgeon about COVID-19. They don’t generally badger city council for answers when the mayor is the newspaper’s landlord, or write critically of the logging industry when their roommate is a forester.
There are pieces that will stick with me forever, such as John Morrison’s story about saving a squirrel, which was really an article about the human condition and what we value. Others include Grace the caribou and her perseverance to survive and thrive, the trailer park residents that lost their homes in Arrow Heights and the colonial history of naming topographical features, such as Mt. Begbie.
Then, there are the stories that got away. The first COVID-19 death, the loss of affordable housing to Bear View Lodges and why city hall has a revolving door of employees.
In small communities, a reporter dances a delicate line.
However, that line is disappearing as newspaper after newspaper closes. My previous job before Revelstoke was at the Edson Leader, which shuttered its doors last year after more than a century in business. Local journalism is the thread of a community that celebrates the wins, mourns the losses and sparks passion for change. Without it, a community loses its colour and becomes quiet.
Regardless, I do not think news will die. It will survive, one way or another. As long as people care enough to save it.
In the end, I have enjoyed my time in Revelstoke and made life-long friends. I will miss gossiping with Roberta down the hall, blasting Disney songs with Jocelyn in the office, trading fancy desserts with Arleigh, complaining to David as he drags me on marathons, getting face shots with Kelsey while skiing, watching Tony as he makes funny faces in our office window, having delightful cocktails with Jo and salsa dancing with my favourite girl — Tula.
And that’s just to name a few.
I will never forget the kindness from our readers, such as Grandma Jean coming to the Review’s office to give me a bag of sweets after reading my column on why I love candy.
I came to Revelstoke because I wanted to be in a small mountainous community again. Growing up, I never liked bumping into people I knew, but here I loved it. Revelstoke was a good fit. However, nothing gold can ever stay. There are dreams that must be given a chance to fly.
It’s time for this bumbling reporter to take his next adventure, part of which includes working for CBC Edmonton.
Thank you everyone that shared and trusted me with their story. I hope I treated it well.
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