Dianne St. Jean
Things I have learned. A final word....

Well, here it is – my final editorial for The Valley Sentinel. Of course this day would eventually come, but now that it’s here I’m almost at a loss for words.

I want to start off first by thanking every one of you who has welcomed and supported me from the time I took on the adventure of owning the newspaper.

When I came to Valemount over five years ago I had completely different intentions of what I was going to do with my life.

I chose Valemount because of its reputation and appreciation for the arts, and of course, its beautiful surroundings.

I was seeking some solitude after a major life change and my intention was to work on writing and pursue once again my passion for painting, something that I had dropped from my life for a long time. In fact, I came here packing an array of paint and canvas.

I still haven’t used them.

Not long afterward I was offered the purchase of The Valley Sentinel.

I had never run a newspaper before. Any writing I had done was research and academic.

I took it on as a challenge as well as a business opportunity. I had no idea though what other implications would be tied to that commitment.

"If you want to remain private or anonymous, running a newspaper is not the way to do it."

The fact that I even took on a newspaper was a plunge in itself. I tend to be a very private person – I don’t like people getting into my personal life, and I don’t like interfering with others’.

Well, if you want to remain private or anonymous, running a newspaper is not the way to do it.

I knew on that front there would be challenges, but I never expected the degree of microscopic examination, to put it politely, that occasionally rose up.

My father was a successful businessman, and by example he had taught me to separate business from the personal; in other words, don’t take things personally in business, even if you feel – or know - you have been slighted, and don’t attack others on a personal level even if they do that to you. In other words, business is business, and people’s personal lives are their own.

If there’s anything I took from that, it was the satisfaction that whenever I ran into people who knew my dad, they had nothing but words of respect for him.

I became aware of just how important those lessons were throughout the time I ran the newspaper.

Indeed, I was shocked at times at how far some people will go if they have an agenda and feel you are in their way, or simply if they just don’t like you.

Imagine the shock I had, for example, when contacted by a media agency to verify ‘updated’ contact information, to discover that an employee who worked at the paper for just a short time had put their name as Editor (my title), gave the office phone number as the contact, no cell number (I would have put my own) and that for  ‘Other Contacts’ there was my name, misspelled with a single rather than a double ‘n’. Or the times I would get phone calls, even at home, with people screaming at the other end and throwing ‘f’ bombs because they didn’t like something I printed (even if it was merely reporting and not my own opinion).

 

So to say that this was quite the learning curve for someone who would rather lead a quiet life is an understatement.

I have to confess that at times the stress got to me so much that I - who had raised my children to never swear – and who never swore herself, have never cussed so much in my life. No excuses, just facts.

 

Aside from these shock and awe experiences, let me say how very, very, very much I appreciate those people who, in recognizing I was new to the community and new to that type of business, did their utmost to help rather than criticize.

I don’t think those people realize just what an amazing difference their kindness and understanding makes, especially to those who are undergoing challenges and struggles.

So, if there is a final word I could come away with after this experience, I would say that doing our best to live at peace with each other, showing kindness instead of unnecessary or unwarranted criticism, and just plain forgiving others are the hallmark of a community of excellence, and that, my friends, is how I want to remember Valemount.