The first day of 2019 was welcomed with crisp air and clear water on Harrison lake. Seventy brave souls stood on the beach in bathing suits or costumes; even more watched from the sidelines swaddled in winter jackets and toques.
I was there too, kneeling in the damp sand, holding my camera and hoping none of the polar bear swimmers would crash into me as they ran into the lake.
It’s one of my favourite ways to start the New Year — taking photos of people who are brave or foolish enough to submerge their body in the chilly water.
Last year, I took photos at the Boundary Bay polar bear swim in Tsawwassen for the North Delta Reporter. This year, it was my first 2019 assignment as editor of the Agassiz Harrison Observer.
Some of you may remember Nina Grossman’s goodbye column from the Dec. 27 edition of The Observer. In it, she recalled some of the impactful stories she covered during her time at the paper — and the people who supported her as she began her journalism career.
Reading her words made me excited to take over reporting in a community that was so invested in local news, and had so many stories worth writing about. Meeting some residents at our Dec. 28 open house made me even more so.
How could reporting in communities that are so passionate about literacy and Indigenous issues not be invigorating? Or covering people who are willing to cling tenaciously to what they believe is right — such as the residents who continue to oppose the quarry project?
Even the idea of covering two different councils is thrilling, since I’m one of those unusual people who get enjoyment out of perusing bylaws and minutes.
Yes, I am excited to cover news in Agassiz and Harrison, and their neighbouring communities. But I would be lying if I didn’t say I was nervous too.
It can be scary out there when you’re doing journalism all by yourself. Although I can call on other reporters for guidance, I will be the only one at The Observer deciding what news should be covered and how it should be written. If there are mistakes in the paper, they will be mine; if residents don’t know about something affecting their community, that will be my burden as well.
So in this first editorial for The Observer, I ask for your help.
Help me do the best job I can in covering your communities. Tell me about the things that excite you, the issues that worry you and the successes we need to celebrate.
Tell me when crime goes unchecked on your street. Tell me when a high school student makes it big at a local or national championship. And tell me when you find something that your neighbours need to know.
I’ll be out there looking for these stories too.
You can reach Grace by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, calling 604-796-4302 or sending a message through the Agassiz Harrison Observer Facebook account.