I’m sorry to say that my time as editor of the Hope Standard has come to an end and, although you’ll see sporadic features with my byline in the future, I have now left the community.
I’ve been given this opportunity, however, to pen some parting thoughts about the community as I head back to my home on Vancouver Island and my next assignment for Black Press.
In all honesty, my time in Hope surprised me.
My professional background has, more often than not, seen me working in urban centres where population was counted in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions. Coming to Hope, with it’s population of about 6,000 had me wondering what I could possibly find to write about.
I needn’t have worried – not at all.
What I discovered in Hope was that it is populated by people who love where they are and what they do. Certainly, they have their challenges – everybody does, no matter where they live. But in Hope I found people who were willing to face those challenges head on and move forward with confidence that their efforts would be rewarded.
Take Carolyn Kuiper, whose story will appear in next week’s paper.
After years doing what is arguably one of the toughest jobs imaginable, she left the road as an ice road trucker and, with her husband, decided that Hope was the perfect place to open a clothing store. She has no experience in retail, but she has no doubt that she will succeed. After speaking to her for only a short time, I tend to agree.
I met a lot of people like that in Hope.
Karl Koslowsky, the vice principal at Hope Secondary School, gave me a tour of the school, and he beamed like a proud parent throughout our conversation. This was a man who felt nothing but confidence in the young people he has embraced as his own. It was a spirit that teachers Erin Wilkins and Lenora Poulin exuded as well as they spoke with pride about their leadership class students.
The district’s Mayor Wilfried Vicktor took me on a tour of the town and spoke with passion about the future of his home, and John Fortoloczky shared his recollections of his military career. Both were ever-helpful with this poor journalist who was, in truth, a stranger in a strange land.
There are truly too many people to mention, from Kelly Pearce at the Hope Mountain Centre, whose love of nature inspired, to the staff at the Travel Lodge who made my month-long motel stay feel like I was coming home after a long day at work.
They were all wonderful, and upon reflecting on my stay in Hope, I realized that it wasn’t the classic move theatre, or the restaurants or even the rec centre that made my stay something to remember; it was the people.
I realized the one criticism I might have is that the name of the community belies its true nature. The community I’ve learned to love isn’t just about hope; it transcends that ephemeral emotion. It’s about strength and confidence, kindness, and ingenuity.
But you know what? Maybe Hope isn’t a bad name. Hope, after all, is never a bad thing. Maybe it’s the best thing of all.