When I first arrived in town back in April 2017 to work for the Thompson Citizen, my new editor Ian Graham asked me to write an introductory column during my first month on the job.
While this exercise was designed to herald my arrival for the Citizen readership at large, the intro ended up sounding like a dating ad for some reason.
So, now that I’m leaving for a job in Brandon, I briefly toyed with the idea of writing this goodbye column in the style of a break-up letter to bring my Northern Manitoba adventure full circle.
But I decided to pen a purely sentimental and irony-free farewell instead, since that tone mirrors my real thoughts and feelings about living in Thompson a lot more closely.
Besides, I’ve made so many good memories working here I didn’t want to sully that experience with some tired snarky humour at the very end.
While Thompson often gets unfairly labelled as a place where nothing interesting happens, I can honestly say I was never bored here in my role as a reporter and always found something new and exciting around the corner.
Despite being an introvert at heart, a lot of my favourite stories involved covering big events like Nickel Days that featured large swaths of the community.
These assignments helped me learn about Thompson’s history and its people, which gave my words a little bit more weight when I eventually committed them to ink.
Public sporting events accomplished largely the same thing, with Northstars hockey and R.D. Parker Collegiate athletics being at the centre of a lot of busy weekends.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the public spectacle of local politics, whether that took place during bi-weekly city council meetings or last fall’s municipal election.
Of course, not every story left me feeling warm and fuzzy inside, since I’ve typed up plenty of police reports and taken my fair share of crime scene photos.
But every time I started to doubt the benevolent nature of my fellow northerner, some little tale of kindness would grace my inbox and win me back.
One of the most recent examples of this is the story of 14-year-old Rayden Seela, who rode his bike over 750 kilometres to raise money for mental health awareness.
Back in February, members of the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation helped the Munn Cup organizers out of tough spot by replacing the City of Thompson’s only Zamboni when it broke down mere hours before the tournament was about to start.
And who could forget the actions of siblings Morgan and Taylar Hanson-Oliveira, who delivered around 2,000 pounds of toys to the children of Cross Lake following a string of suicides in 2016 that shook the community to its core.
I bring up all these different stories not for the simple self-indulgent act of strolling down memory lane. Rather, I think they actually serve as a strong testament to the people of Northern Manitoba and their character.
Even though I’ve written about this topic before, I think it bears repeating that I’ve never met such a welcoming group of people in my life.
Throughout my tenure in the north, virtually every soul I encountered made time to chat with me, whether it was for work or something in my personal life.
As an outsider who never stepped foot in Northern Manitoba, let alone Thompson, until two-and-a-half years ago that really took me by surprise. And since it’s literally my job to bug people and pry them for information, I figured someone, at some point, would tell me to take a hike.
Needless to say, that hasn’t happened yet and I’m finally starting to understand why the province plasters “Friendly Manitoba” on everyone’s license plate.
So, from the bottom of my cynical heart, thank you very much for your hospitality and for putting up with all my phone calls, emails and in-person inquiries.
I can only hope that the people of Brandon exercise the same level of patience, especially since I don’t plan on getting any less inquisitive as I move forward with my career.