Nigel Nikolaisen (aka Gibby Nik) takes a break from setting up his next class at Northwest Shito-Kai Karate in Willow Point to play a tune. Mirror File Photo

MIKE’S MUSINGS: Interesting people doing interesting things

I meet a ton of interesting people in this job. Here are some of the memorable ones from 2018

Another year has come and gone, and another year begins.

And as is the case each January, we in newsrooms around the country take a few moments to reflect on what we’ve done in the past 12 months and prepare for the work to come.

Whether it be going through all of our stories looking for the ones we think are worth nominating for annual journalism awards or creating newspapers like this one that celebrate the best and most influential stories we’ve helped to tell throughout the year, the turning of another calendar is a chance for hindsight.

This year’s personal editorial reflection looks at what I consider the best part of my job: “Meeting interesting people who are doing interesting things.”

So here, my good readers, are my selections for “most interesting people I met as part of my job in 2018,” in chronological order.

In January, I met Bev Sellars.

Sellars was awarded last year’s Haig-Brown Writer in Residency and I had the chance to sit down with her in the city’s iconic heritage house on the river and have a nice chat about her work, the importance of sharing stories and what reconciliation really looks like. She’s got an amazing, yet calming presence that I have seldom felt and it was a delightful afternoon.

But in March, I met another woman who had a similar aura.

Kathi Cammileri was hosting a session of her Building Bridges Through Understanding the Village® workshop at the Museum at Campbell River as part of the Paddling Together Toward Reconciliation gathering hosted by the Campbell River Arts Council. She was a powerhouse of positivity and an absolute joy to speak with and I very much relished being able to share her story.

It was also around that time that I sat down with Dr. Stephen Cross to talk about his love of seaweed.

While that may sound a little odd, it was actually an amazing chat about the ins and outs of the region’s aquaculture economy and his scientific research on the feasibility of farming kelp and seaweed to raise the economic bar in various communities along the coast – particularly First Nations communities, who were already signing on to his idea in large numbers.

In June I got to go meet local Realtor Byron Maier, whose passion for jazz music led him along a long and winding road to the loading dock of a local shipping company with a pallet full of musical instruments for an underfunded school in Jamaica.

In August, I finally met the new manager of the Discovery Passage Aquarium, Rickey Belanger, who had been hired earlier in the year, as he strode around on the beach at Robert’s Reach cleaning up garbage – because that’s just one of the things he does with his spare time.

This is a young man who doesn’t just talk the talk, but also walks the walk, and his enthusiasm for making the world a better place was contagious and inspiring.

Then in the fall I got to hang out with Nigel Nikolaisen (AKA Gibby Nik) for a couple of hours in the afternoon in his karate dojo in Willow Point and talk about the state of the music scene here in Campbell River, the strange trajectory of his career in the music industry, and how much songwriting and karate have in common.

I even got an exclusive performance of a new song he hadn’t shared with the world yet, during which I’d like to think I held my own playing a Peruvian hand drum.

There were, of course, many more interesting people doing interesting things that I met (or re-met) this year during the course of my work. These are just the first ones that came to mind.

I wonder who I’ll be thankful to meet this year when I look back on it in 2020.

Guess time will tell.

Thanks for being so interesting, Campbell River.

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Discovery Passage Aquarium manager Ricky Belanger spends part of his Saturday cleaning up garbage on the beach at Roberts Reach. Mirror File Photo

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