As I sit in my office at the 4H Tanzania building on coastal East Africa, I can’t help but think of the party happening halfway around the world in chilly Saskatchewan this week.
That is something I never thought I would do: miss Saskatchewan, a place which became my home for the past year.
The entire province is celebrating right now as the Grey Cup is taking place in Regina and the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the pride and obsession of all Saskatchewanians, is in the championship game. The city of Regina will go nuts this week, I have no doubt, and I am sad I will be missing out of the celebration.
After graduating from journalism school, my plan was never to move to Saskatchewan. It was more to move anywhere I could get a journalism job.
I dreamed of interesting places across Canada and internationally I could go and applied for every small town reporter job posted online. Yet, I ended up moving just down the highway from Winnipeg to a city that is literally known as the armpit of Canada. Yet, I was very excited and hopeful for all the new opportunities it would bring me.
I was not disappointed. Working out of a small newsroom – with just two or sometimes three reporters and my editor based in Saskatoon – I got to cover everything.
And I mean everything. It is the kind of job any new grad hopes to get, from hyper-local quirky stories I found to provincial issues to national coverage – I got it all.
I was proud that the security guard at the Saskatchewan Legislative building knew my name or that the city’s mayor would see me on the street and come over to say ‘hi’. I got to cover fun things like the Juno Awards, fashion week and the Paul McCartney concert as well as national news stories.
I was able to cover the civic election the week I got the job and the first city referendum in more than 20 years. I got to learn so much about the city – most of which was pretty awesome – and every time I would get down and think about moving to a new city, I would research some of my favourite reporters to find that many of them had done stints in Saskatchewan while climbing the journalism ladder.
Yes, there were lows – most of which took place in the longest winter the city had ever seen (I wrote snow stories for six months straight) – but I had some great times. I toured around the whole province – heading north to Prince Albert Provincial Park, west to Cypress Hills National Park and south to the Big Muddy badlands – most of which was when I convinced work to let cover multiple music festivals.
I fell in love with lots of local artists and even got to write about some of them for a weekly music column I had in the paper. I like to think I became almost a festival queen during the summer and had some of the best times dancing in the grass with my childhood friend Adrianne, who conveniently lived in the Queen City.
Maybe it is a good thing I left before the first snowflake fell as I think it was summer that did me in. Now I can remember my time there drinking Sangria on the patio of La Bodega, watching a show at O’Hans or just cruising around with friends listening to songs about Saskatchewan.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FflMPhNtprk]
Either way, it was a great year and it would have been awesome to cover the Grey Cup festivities.