We, Highlanders

Highlands East will head a public consultation for the province’s disposal of Crown land on Centre lake. Photo via Granite Shores.

A couple of weeks back, as I was filling the newspaper box outside Jug City, the thought crossed my mind: what are you doing here, thousands of kilometres from home, a newspaper delivery boy in a land of lakes, forests, snow and hockey?

In one of the best places on Earth. This is the first and likely the last column I’ll write for this newspaper. Despite having my name on this page as publisher, I don’t get to decide what you read each week. That’s the job of our editor and her team.

That’s how it should be.

I get all the responsibility (I sign the cheques) and not much of the power so we can protect our product; so you know what you read here is not influenced by commercial concerns.

What Lisa, Sam and Mike put in The Highlander is what they think this community needs to read. That’s how they build an award-winning newspaper people love and tell their friends about, making it commercially viable as the go-to place for advertisers who want to reach our community.

That’s not to say I don’t have editorial input. Part of my job is to protect our mission, which you can find right above my name on this page. I keep watch to make sure what you read here is in line with who we are. The Highlander is 10 years old this week, so it’s time to reinforce that mission, to double down on encouraging Highlanders “to believe in themselves, in our community, and in their power to make our place in the world better every day.” This has never been more important.

I’m not alone in noticing how the past 18 months has put us on some kind of precipice: it feels we’re about to be pushed over the edge into something we don’t want to be. For the first time, I am hearing longtime Highlanders say it might be time to move on. It’s said people come here for the lakes and stay for the community.

This is true. Just look at the stories about our service clubs and not-for-profits, our thriving arts scene and successful businesses, and you’ll know this community has something special going for it. This is the kind of place where how you show up is more important than what you show up with, where you’re part of this place rather just in this place. We can protect all this, not by retreating into the past but by standing strong, creating our own future based on what makes the Highlands great.

All that requires is a steadfast belief in who we are and a strong resolve to ensure our future is what we want it to be. It means we have to think carefully about the decisions we make as a community. Above all, we need to know where we’re going.

Here at The Highlander, we’ll play a part in that. We’re not arrogant enough to think we have all the answers, but we do know how to ask questions. We also have you, our readers and our advertisers. We know you’ll tell us what we’re doing right and when we go wrong.

You’ll let us know what you want the Highlands to be and you’ll share your ideas about how to get there. Together, we will make the next 10 years a defining decade. We’ll emerge stronger and happier, proud of who we are and the lives we’ve built – as Highlanders.