Ann McCormick saw an opportunity to celebrate.
McCormick, the campus supervisor of the Fort St. James College of New Caledonia (CNC) campus, wanted to take a different approach when it comes to preventing racism and hate.
After years of working with marginalized people in the community and after the Organizing Against Racism and Hate (OARH) group and the Students Taking Action Against Racism (STAR) project were finishing up, she knew there was still work to be done.
“They were a catalyst for us to work in the community to foster a good neighbour policy and to celebrate the good neighbours we already have,” she said.
But instead of pointing out what was wrong or what still needed fixing, ever the optimist, she wanted to acknowledge what Fort St. James does best.
She wanted to celebrate something everyone who has spent time in Fort St. James has witnessed, how the community will pull together to help each other when it’s needed.
When people go missing, homes are destroyed, or someone becomes ill, people rally together and give whatever gifts they can to help out their neighbours.
“Those are the times when Fort St. James is strongest,” she said.
But while many different things happen in small ways wall the time as well to bring the community together, it isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to explain or convey.
“How do we capture that?” was the question she asked herself.
The idea she came up with was to create a book which would highlight the strength in diversity of the community.
To show “what we do best, who we are,” said McCormick. “Everybody has gifts here.”
“It’s that celebration work that we don’t often get a chance to do.”
So she applied for some provincial funding through Embrace BC and received a $5,000 grant to make it happen.
Timara MacDougall, who has a strong background in the arts was hired for the job.
“I jumped on it because I love doing this kind of thing,” she said.
With two parents very active in the community (her father is Mayor Rob MacDougall and her mother, Terri-lee MacDougall does a lot of work with the curling club), she said she is inspired to also get involved.
Hired on February 18, and finishing up her contract on March 27, it has been a whirlwind project -which she still hasn’t finished, but so far she has 32 pages laid out, and the hardcover book will hopefully be finished by the end of April and printed and given to the library and schools and also made available for community members to purchase if they want their own copies.
“We just want it to be colourful – we want it to be a colourful celebration of our community, showing us at our best,” said MacDougall. “We all work together really well when need be.”
“It’s a great town.”