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From Saskatchewan with love

Say it with me now. "Sass-cat-chew-win. Sasscat-chewwin. Saskatchewan." Now that we're all saying it right, with the "win" and not a "wan" (though when you're from there you just say "Skatchwin"), I can tell you where I'm headed.

Say it with me now. "Sass-cat-chew-win. Sasscat-chewwin. Saskatchewan." Now that we're all saying it right, with the "win" and not a "wan" (though when you're from there you just say "Skatchwin"), I can tell you where I'm headed.

This is my final column for Coast Reporter and it is bittersweet. I have come to like a lot of you and I really enjoy my job. How 'bout we load up a bus and you can come along? I promise, the black flies and minus 40 aren't that bad!

I am loading up the rental truck, tossing the car on a tow trailer, piling my nine-month-old Great Dane pup and two cats on board and heading out. One cat's a barfer. Have mercy: cat barf and 35-degree heat. Who wants to queue next to me in Langdale?

Anyway, I have learned a ton in my 14 months here. The folks I work with have made all the difference, and I've interviewed some incredible people about some amazing topics.

Big thanks to the staff at the District of Sechelt for being my go-to gals for questions on municipal lingo and process. That subject was detrimentally absent in journalism school. Covering local politics has probably been the biggest challenge as a fledgling journalist, but also a news beat that has grown on me.

Democracy really does start at the municipal level, and the citizens on the Coast have proven time and again that they are willing to get involved, are vocal and passionate and determined to keep the politicians honest.

I have most enjoyed writing feature stories about dogs, kids and community heroes (and more on dogs when the bosses let me). People spring to mind - like Elias Minatsis, who faced cancer with courage and his wife Chelsea who, with two small daughters, carries on without him, showing tenacity and such love.

Sarah Doherty, who invented her own sports aid so she isn't sidelined by her missing leg, reminded me how important it is to have an adventurous spirit and to problem solve for ourselves instead of always hoping others can fix our shortcomings.

And Rose Schwarz, a firefly of a young woman who never gives up despite a debilitating disease, taught me huge lessons about life and living well and doing it with flare.

I leave you now for La Ronge, Sask. - land of rivers, black flies, northern lights and adventure. It's the last stop heading north up the centre of the province where the pavement ends and everything extreme begins.

I have spent many seasons guiding canoe trips one hour north of La Ronge in the Churchill River watershed for a little outfitter in the hamlet of Missinipe, which is woodland Cree for "big water."

The history of the region runs deep, from stories of voyageurs lost in rapids, their names and unmarked graves recorded in journals by explorers such as David Thompson, to rock paintings that depict the life of the First Nations people who have lived there for centuries.

I'll bring together all the things I love to do most: work with elementary-aged children, continue writing and reporting, and spend my summers on the water and in the woods, playing host to the fearless and fun who make their way north of the pavement.

I leave you with a quote by a voyageur who was interviewed by author Alexander Ross. Once you've paddled a place or two, his words get right to the heart of it, a metaphor for life really.

"No water, no weather ever stopped the paddle or the song There is no life so happy as a voyageur's life, none so independent, no place where a [wo]man enjoys so much variety and freedom "

See you en route, Coasters!