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Brenda and Dave Chambers August 17, 2013

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July 21, I listen to Corus radio’s Roy Green show as I usually do when travelling home from visiting my daughters in Calgary.

This day Green was talking to a man called Walter and his son Alex about bullying.

For over five years 16 year old Alex has been the subject of bullying tactics by peers. Green commented that at times it was so severe that suicide became the only way out for Alex.

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This compelled Walter to leave his job to care for his son for six months. He returned to two jobs trying to catch up when one day as he was going to head out to the evening job he heard a commotion outside. In his driveway was a group of kids attacking Alex. Walter screamed at them to leave but one kept pounding away until Walter intervened and pulled him off. When the kids left Walter called the police and told them what transpired. What happened next became a nightmare for the family. The police charged Walter with assault; the case took two years during which the stress of the situation got the better of the family with Walter suffering a breakdown, his wife developing severe arthritis and depression resulting in both being off work. For two years they used savings to cover legal costs to fight the charges eventually dropped and now with no savings left and no jobs they are losing their home.

Green was adamant on his show that these “are good people that have suffered bad luck”, saying he had followed this story for two years and knew the information was legit. He emphasized this family was in this situation due to bullying something Green feels strongly about and has done several shows on.

He then went on to say that Alex had been picked by the Amanda Todd Foundation to go on a trip to Toronto with Carol Todd, mother of Amanda, the teen who committed suicide last year because of bullying and put requests out to listeners.

“Is there a resort in BC that can offer Walter and his wife some respite during the time that Alex will be in Toronto? Is there a realtor willing to sell their home for a reduced commission so that they don’t lose their home entirely?

As I listened to Green’s plea I contemplated on how bullying had unleashed a chain of events causing a normal family with jobs, home, and a loving environment now in a situation of having no income, sick and homeless. I thought how easily this could happen to anyone at any time.

The next day I emailed four Fernie accommodators with text from the Roy Green website to collaborate the request. Three replied immediately, I had to call several radio stations to get a message to Green who was elated that strangers had responded saying that a realtor had also called to help.
Walter and his wife have come and gone, they said the trip here was wonderful. They admired the scenery, Main Street, the mountains encircling our town, the Ghostrider image, the beauty and peacefulness of their surroundings. Most of all they marvelled at the generosity of Fernie and the people they encountered.

It never crossed my mind when I reached out to this couple that have now become friends that Fernie would get so much publicity for this. The Roy Green radio show is heard on the Corus network coast to coast, the US and online internationally. Last Saturday’s show that I was part of was heard by Doug Ford who called in to say that he would take the boys to Toronto City Hall and dinner with the mayor. Green says he will do a follow-up show with Walter and Alex to talk about their trip.

Walter is so positive with the generosity he has encountered from Green and others that he wants to be called by his first name as up until they have been referred on air by middle names. Dave and Brenda asked “How can we ever thank these people? (In Fernie) I replied that I would do it for them.

Mike McPhee and Island Lake Lodge, Matt Mosteller and FAR, Shelley Le Strange and The Best Western, Marnie Green and Park Place Lodge, Tarun Patel and Dairy Queen, Martin Brock and Chocolate Factory, Carosella, Sue Hutchinson-Bawden of Evolve Inc, Simon Howse and Shelley Macgregor of Spa 901, Kim Serwatkewich and Mirror Images, Sarah Parry, Judith Johannsson and Ghostrider Trading Co., Nick Giuliano, Mike Sosnowski, Gail Adams, Joe Warshawsky, Ellen McCauley, Alice Ferrarelli, and all of the staff members, Thank You all so much for your contribution towards this family. What you all did wasn’t just the material, you gave what was much more important, the thing that touches the heart and soul of a person, you gave love by your generosity and that is something that is invaluable to life.

I hope I haven’t missed anyone and know that had more Fernie people been approached there would have been more contributions as this town comes through for those in need whenever they are called on.

At the risk of sounding maudlin this town is simply remarkable with the kind of citizens that call it home. You are simply the best people, because although it is the fabulous natural surroundings that bring visitors here it is the people that make the town the fantastic place it is and a place I am so proud to call home.

Coal Creek Heritage Trail Re-opened July 15, 2013

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After months of planning, working and fundraising the Fernie Trails Alliance held the grand re-opening of the Coal Creek Heritage Trail. The directors of the Trails Alliance and guests gathered at the bike hut by the Aquatic Centre and after a brief introduction by Terry Nelson everyone walked around the hut to check out the new kiosk interpretive sign.

From there everyone went by vehicle or bike to the official start of the trail where long-time director, trail builder and Trails Alliance president Terry Nelson pointed out the newly erected sign with the top left image of the iconic Ghostrider symbolizing the new style of signs that the City has adopted.

From there a leisurely hike was enjoyed along the trail that is cleared and easily walkable. What makes it very pleasant is not only the surrounding scenery of trees, wild flowers and grasses but also the 12 interpretive signs strategically placed to explain what the ruins that are clearly visible once were. It is a pleasant hike that is punctuated by new walking bridges over clear picturesque creeks, a bubbling sulphur creek and along the way rusty artifacts and old stone walls that once were thriving mine offices, shops and other important buildings that made up the Coal Creek Mines and the town site itself.

This hike was particularly meaningful as Pat Gilmar, a member involved for over 25 years was also present to talk about the work that had been done to make this trail possible as was Bernie Pulsifer and Ian Stokie. Doug Temple from Tembec was present as was Museum curator Mike Pennock who has a lot of knowledge of the history of Coal Creek and Dr. Macbeth, Doug Feeley, and Julie Kelly, the new manager for the Trails Alliance.

The Fernie Trails Alliance is made up of the Fernie Trails and Ski Touring Club, Fernie Mountain Bike Club, the Fernie Nordic Society and Island Lake Lodge.

Thanks and Congratulations go to all the members of this group of volunteers who are responsible for building, maintaining and enhancing the trail network in and around Fernie. This work is significant and very important both recreationally and economically to our town. To view some of the kiosk interpretive signage click below:

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Mary’s July Update July 12, 2013

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This past Thursday Rocky Mountain Village held its annual barbecue for residents and family members. A hot summer day with just enough breeze to make sitting outside a comfortable experience for everyone and a pirate theme for table decorations and residents made for a fun afternoon of family, friends, music and food. Lindsey Mucha, RMV recreation director extended thanks to several organizations for donating the use of tents and chairs as well as providing other items to make the event a success.

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As mayor I was asked to provide a short update on Fernie happenings but I also touched on how residents have raised families, worked and contributed to Fernie and other places they called home. These residents were great providers and important members of communities at one time and still contribute by reaching out to newcomers to the home and by staying as healthy as possible both socially and physically so as to enjoy as good a quality of life as possible.

It is so easy to put the accomplishments of our seniors out of our minds when they are no longer visible in the community but I believe that we must always remember that the many amenities that we enjoy here like the Library, Arts Station, Museum, Aquatic Centre, Seniors Centre, all and more were achieved due to the volunteer initiatives of many of the people that are now of senior age and that most if fortunate enough to reach into the eighth decade or further need to call Rocky Mountain Village home.

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I was also privileged to deliver Congratulations to the Fernie Secondary School grads on behalf of Council. I noted that they have communication tools that I couldn’t even have imagined when I was that age and that famous activist Nelson Mandela said “Education is the most powerful weapon to the world”.

I suggested that they should find what ignites their passion and throw themselves into it, express gratitude to everyone who helped bring them this far and not to be afraid to say when they are wrong, or ask for help when in need. I also presented the Youth Achievement award to Cera Atherton who has an impressive list of accomplishments, 80 skating medals, volunteer coach for sports both in elementary and high school, organizer of Trash Bash, volunteer with Lions for ten years, Salvation Army for five years just to mention a few and truly a shining example of the great youth we have in Fernie.

Judith Johannsson was awarded the volunteer of the year award for Area A from the Regional District. Judith has businesses downtown and certainly deserves this honor for the many organizations she volunteers for and contributes to in Fernie. Congratulations Judith.

Long Service awards were presented to several City employees 20 years went to Dave Froese, Doug Mitchell and Kim Sedrovic, 15 to Barb Carrick, Sharon Switzer, Gino Guzzi and Allison Uphill and 10 to Randi Goertzen and Garret Sowchuck. A special presentation was made to retiring Fire Chief Shawn Ivany. Congratulations everyone.

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June 15 saw the annual Veterans ‘Dinner held at the Legion Branch #36. A delicious dinner of roast beef and all the trimmings was cooked up by the Legion Auxiliary Ladies. President Terry Rimmer gave a short speech to thank the Veterans and MC was Derek Marshall.

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You may have noticed the ads regarding the proposed BC Hydro Substation Upgrade Project in Fernie. This was presented to Council, with feedback that included asking for the entire substation to be moved elsewhere or enclosed and landscaped so as not to be as noticed. Sue Foster of Hydro said she understands that the esthetics are very significant considering the present location but that the existing structure is approaching peak load capacity and needs to grow. It is not slated to be moved and if not allowed to progress the result could be an alternate location of supply some distance away from a neighbouring substation which doesn’t sound like a positive move for us.

There was a fantastic turnout of people for the official community plan consultation held last month. People were placed at different tables with a couple of chapters to study and comment on. The feedback was very positive and well received by the consultants. Thank you so much to everyone who took time off from work and busy schedules to attend this session.

The Community Directed Funds Committee made up of Elk Valley mayors, Regional District directors and community reps will be interviewing potential candidates next week to take on the job of consulting the public in the entire Valley to research what project would be of benefit to the entire area.

Special Thanks go to everyone who helped in any way during the flooding situation in our area. From staff at RDEK, City of Fernie and especially all the amazing Volunteers that came out to help without even being asked, a heartfelt thank you hardly seems enough. There was a lot of anxiety in many areas and the show of support was tremendous. Congratulations to all of you.

A dose of Italy June 11, 2013

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In 1989 I returned to Italy for the first time since immigrating to Canada. After landing in Rome I turned on the radio of the rental car eager to hear Italian melodies only to be blasted by familiar American music.

Last month, needing a dose of Italy, I booked the Venetian Hotel for my first trip to Las Vegas so that I could experience the Venice Grand Canal replica replete with singing gondoliers.

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I had no idea that this hotel would be a trip back in time. What I wanted to hear on trips to my birth country was gifted to me by the city that never sleeps. That description is very apt as arriving at the hotel at midnight the streets were full of activity.

Inside, over a hundred people lined up to check into the hotel, a map accompanied direction on how to find our room. A maze of hallways and two separate elevators finally took us to the number on the key card only to discover it wouldn’t open the door. Calls to the front desk were futile and I finally made my way down to the front lobby waiting in line again to be told that they had made the error and given us the wrong room number, for that they would provide a credit to be used as we wished.

An hour later we were finally ensconced in a large, lovely suite and imbibing a bottle of water costing more than a dozen would at home but after the long day and exhausting maze of hallways I was feeling a little cross and not thinking about prices.

The next morning I ordered my first room service, starched white linens, silver dome covers, delicious food, I could certainly get used to such luxury rather quickly.

Nick and I went on a tour of discovery of the Venetian Hotel and its sister the Palazzo joined by an indoor bridge.

We saw magnificent frescoed ceilings reminiscent of the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome, stunning pillars and marble floors. Huge framed images and potted palms, fountains and ornate chandeliers so lovely that they left me breathless. In the Palazzo lights are in the form of walls of crystal, the décor is simply decadent.

Accordion players dressed in red and white striped tops and black bottoms played the tunes I recalled as a child, ten feet tall puppets, court jesters, jugglers and women in sumptuous dress strolled leisurely down hallways.

In the Grand Canal, gondolas glide slowly by as gondoliers croon traditional Italian songs and spectators clap in appreciation. In the square there is regular performance of music and acts including living statues that makes it fun to watch startled visitors realize the statue is a real person.

We observed a real wedding ceremony take place on the bridge over the canal, checked out the clerk dipping huge strawberries in Godiva chocolate, ate breakfasts in an outdoor café, and lunch at Zeffirino, a restaurant overlooking the Canal, renowned for its food and its lush elegant washrooms.

The Venetian hosts the two hottest nightspots in Vegas, Lavo and Tao. We wondered where young women dressed in stilettos and fancy attire where headed as we made our way to our room late in the evening, for them midnight was just the beginning of the evening as the clubs stayed open till four or later. This where celebrities hung out I was told, me, I was just happy to catch some zzz’s, although thirty years ago I might have joined them to dance the night away.

The Grand Canal Shoppes are high end stores with prices to take your breath away. I held a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes on sale for $2600, a pair of little flats at $1600. Another store selling bags had no prices. I remarked to the friendly sales girl that obviously I couldn’t afford anything in the store and she laughed and said the prices were all in her head, the bag I inquired about was only $650. In one shop the sales woman slipped a bracelet around my wrist, I purchased it as it was below $100 and after the other places it seemed a bargain.

In the Palazzo every high couture designer is represented. Window shopping in those elegant salons was fun and interesting.

We walked miles each day touring different hotels, Caesars Palace, Excalibur, Times Square in New York New York, saw a Cirque Du Soleil show, toured Madame Tussauds wax museum, caught a live puppet show, listened to Smoky Robinson’s Human Nature and saw Joan Rivers who insulted everyone and everything she could think of, and at the end of the show gave away the potted plants on the stage. We watched the dancing waters at the Bellagio, and all the man-made waterfalls at many of the hotels and had dinner at wonderful restaurants including famous chef Mario Batalli’s restaurant. We walked down Fremont in Old Vegas, enthralled by the roof covering the entire street, ate gelato and fried calamari and zucchini.

I now understand why so many make the trip. This City mesmerizes, there is so much activity, so many people, and so much entertainment to suit every taste. It is a place of dreams and I hope to return. If not, I have “Italian” memories from something spectacular and surreal but real enough in the moment that will last me a lifetime.

Fernie Elementry French Immersion May 21, 2013

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Last Wednesday morning I had the pleasure of hosting 33 grade four students from the French Immersion Classes at Isabella Dicken School and their teachers Mme. Danielle Gibson and TA Mireille Picard.

The students came up the stairs by two and as they arrived I shook each small hand and welcomed them to City Hall.

I took them into the Mayor’s office first and showed them the view from the windows handed out City pins to each one and then asked them if they knew how our town had gotten its name.
It was quite heartening to hear the several versions of the Ghostrider Legend from the students and also that they were quite aware of some of the recipients of the Wall of Fame award like Tom Uphill, Ralf Socher and Emily Brydon.

As we moved out of the office I pointed out the beautiful City emblem produced and donated by local resident Rose Watson. They delicately touched the soft texture of the figures as they admired the work.

They met Building Inspector Duane Janssen who teased them about needing permits to be upstairs and then before entering Chambers we stopped to admire the Fernie flag that had been given to Pat and Robert Green’s son when he was serving in Afghanistan, he returned it to City Hall with the signatures of the members of his troop. Right next to that is the framed Coat of Arms. Questions were asked as to the meaning of the animals and other items and also what the Latin words (In Montibus Ad Flumen) meant. If I recall correctly it means “In the mountains by the River”)

In Chambers they were thrilled to take turns sitting in the Mayor’s chair and bang the gavel, and also to sit around the podium and in the staff chairs. Councillor Ripley’s granddaughters recognized his name immediately and had photos taken sitting on his chair and in front of his name. It was touching to see the pride on their small faces on seeing their grandpa’s name.

The tour included checking the artifacts in the glassed shelving along the top of the stairs, the pen with metal knib and ink pot were quite the novelty as were other items such as the miner’s gas mask and ledgers from the Crow’s Nest Coal Company. The tour continued downstairs with Suzanne Gerard providing information about the numerous old maps stored inside the huge vault and Lisa Jansen showing how they are now produced on the computer. Dave Cockwell also got to meet the students and asked them a couple of questions and then everyone walked into CAO Jim Hendricks office to meet him.

The students and teachers admired his office and surrounded him asking questions. They would have liked to have seen the basement too but we determined that it was too cluttered at this time and so not safe. Mr. Hendricks jokingly commented that it was too “creepy” as well but that totally piqued the interest of the kids who then got really excited at the prospect of seeing something really fascinating. We told them that could be another visit at a different time. The tour concluded with a look at the Miners Walk exhibit outside.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 33 students who were well behaved and very interested in City Hall and the City of Fernie.

Feedback from one parent a couple of days later was that she didn’t know what I had shown the children but that her child had really enjoyed the visit and had spoken about it.

I am pleased to hear this as I believe that it is important for children to see and understand a little of what City Hall represents. They are the leaders of tomorrow and we never know what they might see or hear that could instill a lifelong interest in becoming either a staff member or a member of council. Regardless, just knowing something about your City Hall and the people who work there is a good thing and I invite anyone who wants a tour of City Hall to just call me, I would be more than happy to show you around.

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Mine Rescue Awards 2013 May 13, 2013

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East Kootenay Mines Industrial Safety Association’s 92ng Competitions were held on May 11,2013 in Sparwood with the awards banquet in Fernie that evening.

The competitions were hosted by Fording River Operations – Teck Coal Limited with all five mines competing and also a novice team and two occupational first aid teams.

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Brad Hogg was main organizer of the event with Mike Harrington as MC for the evening festivities.

Dean Runzer, President of the Association for 2013 and Mine Manager of Fording River Operations delivered the welcome speech. Grace was recited by Elov Simmons and a moving video presentation on the history of mining in the Elk Valley was produced by Patrick Spohr, Fording River Operations.

A delicious dinner was provided by Lizard Creek Lodge, afterwards Mike introduced David Wilks MP for Kootenay-Columbia, MLA Kootenay East Bill Bennett, Bob Kelly, VP Health and Safety for Teck Coal, Robin Sheremeta VP Operations Teck Coal, Mary Giuliano Mayor Fernie, Lois Halko Mayor Sparwood, Ken Wildman Councillor Elkford, Jerrold Jewsbury BC Ministry of Mines- Inspector of Mines, and Selene Minh Nguyet- Team Miracle.

The mine rescue teams were introduced with all five mines having competitors. Several jubilant teams exploded in cheers when they heard they would be attending the provincial competitions in Revelstoke next month.

Awards were presented by Linda Bailey and Tamara Bailey of Staying Alive First Aid Academy and Chief Judge Jerrod Jewsbury.
Winners were Non-mine rescue – first SMS second Canfor. 3person intermediate were first Anealators second Eradecators.
Best captain (Jack Peters award) went to Loren Langiville, highest written (Dunbar award) was Scott Shalaton. Novice team went to Team Miracle.

SMS got a standing ovation when they immediately donated their $1000 winnings to the Mining for Miracles for children.
But the biggest cheers came when Greenhills came in second place and Coal Mountain came in first place which means they are headed for Revelstoke and the provincial competitions in June.

Brad Hogg commented that “everything went without a hitch” Bob Kelley sated that he felt a “great sense of family and much community spirit and pride” in these competitions and Jerrold Jewsbury said he “was very proud to be part of the group of people’, (in mining).
The comaderie displayed by the team members, volunteers and organizers is very evident during the competitions. The video showcased the suffering mineworkers of the Valley went through from the beginning when underground mining of coal was with pick and shovel. It was pointed out that the above ground removal of coal today is much safer but that much of that safety can be attributed to the miners themselves who train in mine rescue and are much more aware of safety than ever before.

Of course these types of events wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t for the sponsors and volunteers who contribute their time and resources to the success of the event.

Sincere Congratulations to the winners but most of all Congratulations to all of the competitors and volunteers and sponsors for their dedication to mine rescue.

On the morning of Friday, April 26, 2013 City staff and employees gathered to commemorate the World Day of Mourning.
Mike Poirier represented the workers and conducted a short ceremony that ended with a moment of silence. He read an introduction from the Union and asked me in my capacity as mayor to also say a few words.

Worker’s Memorial Day was started by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in 1984.

In 1985 The Canadian Labour Congress officially declared April 28, as the annual day of remembrance for workers who have been killed and injured on the job.

This date was chosen because it was on this day in 1914 that the third reading of the Workmen’s Compensation Act took place.
On December 28, 1990 the Government of Canada passed the Workers Mourning Day Act, establishing April 28 as the official National Day of Mourning for persons killed or injured in the workplace making that day an official Worker’s Mourning Day.

Since then this day is observed in over 80 countries, the Canadian flag is flown at half-mast on Parliament Hill and workers and employees observe this day by wearing black ribbons, armbands and having a moment of silence.

The purpose of this day is to remember and honour those lives lost or injured and to renew the commitment to improving health and safety in the workplace to prevent further deaths, injuries and diseases from work.

Thursday evening saw the grand opening of the new banners that will be decorating Fernie’s downtown.

As mayor I was given the privilege of opening the doors to the theatre where they were suspended from the ceiling and if a first impression means anything the gasp from the spectators said a whole lot, amazing scenes with a green border that looks spectacular. Seeing them all together is a pretty impressive sight. Donna Miller who led the program this year said that 18 of the nearly 100 entrants that were submitted were by children. I believe each of these kids deserves special thanks for having interest in such a program and actually submitting a work of art. Congratulations to all of you, it is wonderful to see and I commend all of you for being involved.

The original banners were introduced by the City in 1999 but a few years later Linda hide initiated the program to have images from local artists grace the banners instead of having generic art.

This program has proved so successful that both City Hall and the Arts Station receive calls regularly for requests of information on the program from municipalities across Canada.

I want to convey a huge thank you on behalf of City Council and the City of Fernie to all of those people who submitted their works.
Our town is much brighter and unique not only physically by the outstanding banners put up each year but also by the love visible in each of those pieces of art that makes the banner.

As a long-time resident of this town I can’t help but gush over the amazing people that live here.

Fernie has a constant stream of individuals who are involved in so many ways to make life here easier and more enjoyable for all residents. Most of what is accomplished is done on a volunteer basis. Just look around and notice what we have, Community Centre, Curling Club, Aquatic Centre, Miners Walk, Library, Arts Station, Museum, all sports organizations, committees, service clubs and many amenities have all been spearheaded by volunteers and continue to be successful because of those same people willing to give of time, heart and energy to the improvement and addition to our town in one way or another.

Fernie Supports Recovery Centre April 30, 2013

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Friday April 26 had a large group of supporters gather for dinner to fundraise towards making a recovery centre for women with addictions happen in Fernie.

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Spearheaded by local resident Linda Johnson and her team with support from Pastor Dennis Williamson and the Trinity Pentecostal Church and under the auspices of the successful Wing’s as Eagles Ministry Recovery Centre in Cranbrook the idea has been percolating for some time and has now taken hold.

The evening began with a welcome by Pastor Dennis with John Dumas from Cranbrook acting as MC. The program included several musical interludes and testimonials including one from Linda Johnson.

John introduced Pastor Ron Short, the creator of the Wing’s as Eagles Ministry noting that they had been working closely together for years and recalling how there were times when Ron and his wife would pick up a couple of packages of Kraft dinner from the food bank so that they could have something to eat. “Revolutionaries have a passion for Christ, many aren’t in church but many are. We have to give people chances, we need to forgive as Christ said seven times seven, wherever I go, people I meet have hearts that belong to Jesus,” John said as he asked his friend Pastor Ron to come up.

A visibly emotional Pastor Short said “I am overwhelmed at what the Lord has done in Cranbrook and now in Fernie”.

Pastor Short went on to say how he was an alcoholic who had reached rock bottom; miraculously he was able to change his life around and was sent a vision to start a recovery center for men in Cranbrook. “The vision He gave me has come to fruition, five years, 125 men helped. All money raised in Fernie stays here for the women’s recovery centre, when individuals are battling addictions they have to go away for treatment, instead with a centre here they can stay so once finished they have a support system to fall back on.”

Linda concurred, she said women can stay up to two years in the recovery centre, most that go to the coast for treatment go through a 16 week program but once finished sometimes they find themselves homeless or they return to the same situation so if the program addressed only their woundedness without dealing with other problems they revert back to the old ways of dealing with their situation. With a recovery centre in Fernie women will be able to stay longer and get more support.

Twyla, a beautiful young woman gave an impassioned testimonial of how she had descended into drugs and alcohol, had her child taken away from her, tried to get clean on her own and had not been successful. However, she is now clean and sober and reunited with her daughter. Her personal story of addiction was very moving but more so was her obvious determination to now devote her life to helping other women.

Another testimonial from a young Cranbrook woman told of how she was shunted from one foster home to another, how her mother had all of her children taken away and eventually died from cirrhosis of the liver. She said she herself spiraled out of control, quit her job although it was the only area of life she’d experienced success in and then “ dug a deep hole and threw herself in it, I was in complete darkness, I faced life or death, I decided to crawl out of that hole I had placed myself in and told my boss what was going. The boss replied that if I cleaned myself up I would get my job back. It has been an amazing journey, Jesus is my new addiction.”

The evening had a delicious roast beef dinner catered by CP Catering and a silent auction to raise funds. Many local businesses donated items and gift certificates to support this endeavour.

It was touched on by Pastor Short that when he first began there was some “not in my back yard” attitude at finding a venue for the recovery center.

I believe Fernie is open-minded and compassionate enough that there won’t be any such response.

Most of us are fortunate not to find ourselves in the quagmire of addiction. Many people who seem to lead lives that are productive hide their addiction from the world. But the saying that “Most people lead lives of quiet desperation” seems very true when one hears testimonials from those who have suffered through addictions but have overcome them.

For more information or to donate to this very worthy cause contact Linda Johnson at 250 423 6603.

Grace Brulotte – Fernie Inspire the Race to Empower April 11, 2013

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I first wrote about Grace Brulotte 16 years ago when she was born with a rare congenital disorder called arthrogryposis, a condition that stiffens body joints. “This affects one in 3000 live births” Grace says.

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Grace constantly overcomes obstacles. Others may get gloomy about a bad day but for Grace each day is a bad day full of challenges.

With a fiercely independent spirit it seems ironic that she has to depend on bodily assistance at times and on a specialized wheelchair most of the time.
Grace may be physically challenged but she has been blessed with a quick, bright mind.

Although she doesn’t have mobility in her legs and feet and very limited mobility in her arms and hands this young woman plays the piano well and has co-authored a book. Articulate and knowledgeable about her condition, in her latest project she founded “FIRE”. “Fernie Inspire the Race to Empower” is the sit-ski program now available at Fernie Alpine Resort(FAR).

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Two years ago she was feeling emotionally down, “trapped like a hobbit” she says with a smile. Her friend Katy Gibbs from Invermere told her that she needed to try sit-skiing, saying it was simply amazing.

Grace recalled how during ski days in school there was nothing for her so when she heard about this program and discovered that there wasn’t anything available in Fernie she went to Kimberley. Instructors Nip Bradford and Steve Norton took her out. “when I first saw it I was skeptical, I was scared but the instructor said too bad, I needed that first push to get past my fears, I really needed to step out of my comfort zone. The instructors were very enthusiastic in getting me in the sit-ski. Usually I feel like a have a 400 pound weight strapped to my butt, but with this what I experienced was a freedom from being disabled, something I never experienced before, a feeling of happiness, of being really free, I feel like I can fly, a release I don’t get often, my muscles tense but I can relax emotionally, I don’t have to worry about my life or my problems, this makes me face my fears. Although I was strapped in, it didn’t feel like it. I fell in love with sit skiing. With some kids the instructor holds onto a bar in the back to direct the sit-ski but they can also hold onto to tethers, sort of like a horse. In my case I can tip my head from side to side to steer the sit ski.” said Grace.

Grace continuous to say that instructor Allan Watson takes her on steep inclines and off jumps. “I am terrified but happy; it’s like scuba diving in powder!”

Grace in sit-ski

It didn’t take long to find volunteers for FIRE. People like Andy Cohen(FAR General Manager) and Jennifer Gross. FIRE has Grace as president, her mom Janice as secretary and Jennifer as treasurer. Grace says many helped but she needs to mention how Glenn Purdy donated his services to set up the society. Anita and Dave Brunker, Marilyn Baker, Diane Costerton, David and Nelda Caruthers all became involved.

It took ten instructors, plus two to set up equipment and banner maintenance on the sit-ski, plus five more volunteers to help out in other ways. “Rod Tim directed me to Andy Cohen, who was responsible for getting the Para-training facility in Kimberly. Gord Tim helped to raise 6000 dollars in two weeks with his connections in Calgary. Three sit skis were purchased. A green one name Samson, a red one named Maximus and a yellow one dubbed Ben Hur, I see a pattern here I comment”, says Grace, “they are all chariots”. The program runs Sundays from two to four pm. The program is for those with any type of disability, behavioural or physical all are welcome. ‘FAR is very generous and provides a cost that removes all barriers to fun and freedom, it is a positive atmosphere that shows individuals their ability in their disability’ Grace says.

She said Taiga Koffman from Lethbridge always wondered why he couldn’t go skiing with his dad and sister, she shows a photo of Taiga all smiles with happy parents by his side. She is now applying for a grant to get another sit-ski, one more adaptable for different needs that will cost nearly $6000 dollars. Through the Paralympic committee half will be paid so hopefully the grant will make up the rest.

sit-ski instructors

Grace says, “In my black and white world colour has been added, in this world different doesn’t fit in but everyone wants to fit in, and now I understand there are no excuses, not limits, only our minds disable us. I am amazed at how the community rallied around with support, instructors are incredible people and the Free Press has supported me from the beginning and TECK donated too. I want to thank all the sponsors and encourage those who want to volunteer to come forward; it will change your life, Thanks to Jennifer and Andy for the amazing flood of ideas.

FIRE will have a website soon, in the meantime for more information you can contact this courageous young woman by calling Grace at 250 423 4488 or at bethefire@hotmail.ca

Lent 2013 March 5, 2013

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In my youth Lent meant giving up favorite foods like bread or chocolate. Catechism taught that fasting and deprivation of something really enjoyable was a good show of Faith.

As time passed I turned to daily praying of the Stations of the Cross, but after a few years the daily repetitions turned into a rote exercise that didn’t feel like I was fulfilling the necessary obligation.

This year I have been doing small daily mediations. One from a booklet provided by our priest Father Bart, another from the Rohr Institute and a daily inspiration that arrives to my inbox daily.

Father’s book is written by Henri J.M. Nouwen, considered to be one of the greatest spiritual writers of our time, Richard Rohr is a priest and the inspirational sayings are interdenominational.

On one day last week Nouwen asks “Can we drink the cup?” Then explains that “drinking our cups means fully appropriating and internalizing what each of us has acknowledged as our life, with all its unique sorrows and joys. And we do this by “listening in silence to the truth of our lives, as we speak in trust with friends about ways we want to grow and as we act in deeds of service”.

Rohr says “Your image, your de facto, operative image of God lives in a symbiotic relationship with your soul and creates what you become. Loving people, forgiving people have always encountered a loving and forgiving God. Cynical people are cynical about the very possibility of any coherent or loving Center to the universe. When you encounter a truly sacred text, the first questions are not “Did this literally happen just as it states. Does my church agree with this? Who is right or wrong here” These are largely ego questions, they try to secure your position, not questions that help you go on a spiritual path of faith and trust. They constrict you, whereas the purpose of the Sacred is to expand you.”

One inspirational message by John Wesley states, “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can, at all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can”.

I love these daily bits of education that touch body and soul and “expand” my thinking. Giving time to meditating dares me to truly change the way I think and react to people and life in general.

It’s not an easy adjustment; drawing inward and outward discipline is hard. I would rather depend on the easy, learned way of thinking and behaving.

Giving up my favorite food was so much easier, saying daily prayers not difficult at all. But actually thinking about what matters in life spiritually takes energy especially if I am to do it honestly and then truly live what I learn.
It wouldn’t be a real Lenten journey if I couldn’t put into practice what it is I want to do.

But as a flawed human being it would be ever so much more pleasurable if I were able to instead write about how disappointed I am at people who are continuously critiquing me and looking for ways to show the community what a mistake they made in voting for me and what a terrible job I am doing representing our town.

However, I am going through this Lenten period working diligently to alter my thought processes so instead I will say that I will continue to learn, continue to care, continue “to do all the good I can, by all the means I can, in all the ways I can, in all the places I can, to all the people I can for as long as I can”. And at the end if I have not been able to make everyone happy, it won’t matter because if I have learned something so far in this life journey it is that although it is a goal I always aspire to it isn’t one that is truly possible.

At the end what is important is that my intentions are pure, that what I want for others is something good, that what I want for my town is a balanced direction that takes into consideration our past and our future and especially the present. That I don’t favour only one way of thinking, that I put everything in common sense perspective and that above all I am working for the good of the whole and that is what this Lenten journey is about, one that I hope to continue all year through if I have truly learned something.

Lions Club annual appreciation dinner February 28, 2013

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The Lions Club of Fernie held their annual appreciation dinner at the Legion Hall on Saturday February 23, 2013. This event is as a considerate expression of Thanks to those that contributed so generously in many ways to the organization in the past year.

The Fernie Lions have been a support for this area for many years fundraising to help the hearing impaired and those with special needs. They are identified and well known for organizing the amazing Labour Day Demolition Derby event that attracts competitors and spectators from different provinces.

I was invited again this year and was pleased to be asked to give the blessing before dinner and also say a few words on behalf of the City of Fernie.

In my capacity as Mayor I thanked the Lions and all the volunteers present saying, “Congratulations for all the enthusiasm and diligence you show year after year and for all that you accomplish. Volunteers like you are the heartbeat of the community; you make our community the wonderful place it is”.

The delicious dinner of chicken cordon bleu, roast beef and fixings was prepared by the Legion Auxiliary Ladies.

President Rick Ganter thanked the Ladies and also Legion President Terry Rimmer for the use of the Hall for the evening and also for the Auction coming up in May.

Chuck Shoesmith, vice-president thanked all the volunteers getting a loud laugh when he stated, “I can’t believe all you do for a free meal.” He then touched on plans for making a permanent exhibition ground happen for Fernie.

Rick Ganter who has held every executive position since becoming involved with the Lions in the early seventies thanked the many individuals and organizations for the constant assistance to the Club. He particularly mentioned TECK Coal for their financial contribution, Randy Cameron who has been supplying free washrooms, fencing, etc, and also sets up and cleans up for the annual Demo Derby. “In the rain, at four thirty in the morning he moved the concession stand to the new venue last year”.

He went on to say that for years he and Ron Corrigan have supplied and cooked burgers for Family Day for seniors beginning at the Tom Uphill Home and continuing on at Rocky Mountain Village.

“The Mitchells have supplied us with a loader, grader, and anything else needed for over 25 years, don’t even have to call, Reiko Steel built metal seating stands for us. We also do security for the skating club and put on a volunteer dinner for all the kids who volunteer to help, over 30 this year” Rick adds.

He the points to a woman sitting across and says, “you see her, that’s Kim, she and her family come from Calgary every year to help with the Derby. Rick then points to a tall man close by. “That’s Loopy Meloff, an auctioneer from Alberta. He comes every year to volunteer as actioner for us. “Only time you can be called a big mouth and not be insulted,” he says to Loopy, who laughs and says he loves coming here to work the auction, “I do other places but the best bargains are here, usually people get something brand new for only forty cents on the dollar” he says to me.

Last year the Club held the Derby at the Hutchinson Farm property. This year they have no idea where it will be. In the past the Derby has been held in Hosmer and Coal Creek as well as in Fernie. This event has proven very popular drawing thousands of spectators including people from out of town who love the sport. It would be a sad day for many if another location isn’t identified soon for this very enjoyable family event.