Two brave young souls take the first dip of the year at a Jan. 1 Polar Bear Swim at a frozen-over Kawkawa Lake, with a healthy dose of encouragement from Brian McKinney. This was one of the first images I captured as editor of the Standard. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard

Editor’s goodbye: Catching a glimpse of community, through the moments, stories and people of Hope

Many people to thank, many memories made

How do you condense a year of first impressions, moving stories and important issues into a goodbye note from your soon-to-be-departed editor?

Well, that would in short order turn into a meandering novel which would inevitably get shelved as I’m far too inexperienced a writer to attempt anything past 1,000 words. So instead I’ll offer a simple thank you to the community of Hope and the readers of the Standard.

Thank you for the opportunity to live in and report on your community.

Thank you for the words and viewpoints you’ve shared with me and for the personal, political, moving and fun stories you’ve entrusted me with.

As you read this I’ll likely be driving a very straight and wintry road somewhere in Northern Alberta, headed for a job in radio in the city of Yellowknife. And while a new adventure awaits above the 60th parallel, there’s a lot to reflect on from the past year.

The time I spent editing your local paper of record passed by in lightning speed, but it was heavy with experiences, impressions and memories. These will stay with me for life.

I witnessed the heartbreak of family members searching for their loved one, Shawnee Inyallie, and that search coming to a tragic end as her body was found hundreds of kilometres away from where she was last seen.

I was honoured to be a part of commemorations that decades later unearthed the fascinating history of this area, including the Fraser Canyon War and the internment of thousands of Japanese-Canadians at Tashme (now Sunshine Valley).

I saw how engaged community members got about the issues they care about, from development pressures to marijuana legalization to housing and homelessness.

From Kris Lebedoff becoming an amateur bodybuilder at 41 to local designer Linda Kay Peters getting ready to show her designs in the Eiffel Tower during Paris Fashion Week, this town has no shortage of fascinating people.

Sometimes I had to stop in the middle of reporting on a story just to reflect on how amazing it is that I actually get to be a part of these moments, too many to list here.

But standing barefoot in the Fraser as fishers pulled up sockeye wriggling like crazy in their last attempt at freedom, or sitting in a Grade 5-sized desk as students from Mr. Froese’s class shared their equal parts exciting, equal parts terrifying bear encounter stories, I got to witness life happening and a community doing their thing.

It was exhilarating.

I was also buoyed by seeing how much you engaged with your community newspaper — writing thoughtful letters to the editor, getting excited and engaged with stories online and even correcting my occasional grammar missteps.

Any good local news source should strive to represent the heart of the community and be a gathering place of ideas. I hope you keep this relationship going with your community newspaper.

Thank you again for the opportunity to learn and grow as a journalist in your town. My bags are packed with memories, special moments and a little bit of small-town magic from the town of Hope, B.C.

I wish you all a beautiful start to the new year, and I invite you to keep in touch with me via Twitter (@emelie_writes) or my Facebook page (Emelie Peacock).

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