Since moving to Squamish five years ago, I have been asked about one million times how long I have been here.
I exaggerate, of course, but just slightly. This question is sometimes a way for those who have lived here longer — who were perhaps born and raised here — to figure out what I know about the town and what I don’t. Sometimes it is a way to make the point that I don’t know as much as an old timer. And I don’t.
Thankfully, plenty of long-time Squamish residents have taken me under their wing, shown me the ropes and taught me how things are done here. Those lessons are invaluable, and I am still learning.
But sometimes it feels like the statement being made by some is, “You don’t belong here the way I do.”
Many of the people I know who are also relative newcomers say they have heard the same thing.
For some, it can be isolating to be new here, and hard to make friends, unless it is with others who just arrived.
In many ways, I have been lucky. My work at the paper introduces me to many amazing locals, and I had children in the Squamish school system, which definitely broke the ice for my family.
(The bond between parents trying to survive their children’s’ teen years is thick, y’all.)
And of course, this isn’t to say this is not a great town or that we don’t have a sense of community — we definitely do.
Squamish will come together like nobody’s business when people are in need — just look at Squamish Community Christmas Care that gathers dozens of volunteers to give away close to 300 hampers each year.
That is unbelievable and amazing.
And, almost 79 per cent of Squamish residents reported in the Vital Signs survey taken in 2015/2016 that they felt either a strong or somewhat strong sense of belonging here. So not everyone is alienated, to be sure.
Maybe it is more that those I tend to associate with in Squamish don’t have a lot of cash so, they aren’t heading up the gondola or to Whistler to ski or out to the Spit to kiteboard. Maybe it takes more money to get a tribe here than those who bemoan the difficulty of finding friends locally have in their wallets?
As we grow and change, it is natural for those who were here first to be territorial. With so many new people it can feel like Squamish is becoming more city, instead of those from the city becoming more Squamish.
The ironic thing is though, that of all those who have pointed out I was newer than they are, not one has been a member of the Squamish Nation — people who truly discovered this place and made it their own. That is something to ponder if you are thinking you have more claim to this place than those moving in from somewhere else.
If you were born and raised here, lucky you. Maybe help make those of us who weren’t feel more at home.
If you are new to town, there’s a New Squamish Locals Meet & Mingle event on Friday, Jan. 4 at Norman Rudy’s.
Check it out.
Ultimately, there’s nowhere like Squamish.