Dianne and I left Courtenay for Denman Island soon after the Friday ceremony and returned home to Victoria only yesterday.
Though I was busy teaching a writing workshop during that time, I found myself quite often reliving the Walk of Achievement ceremony and appreciating the honour with a sense of wonder and a good deal of gratitude.
Once we were home and I had access to my computer, I checked the stories in the Comox Valley newspapers, and this reinforced my sense of the exceptional privilege and honour bestowed upon me. As I mentioned in my comments, not every writer feels welcome in his or her home territory!
Not only has the Walk of Achievement honour made me feel welcome, but it has reminded me of how, in my work, I am constantly drawing upon my affection for and knowledge of the Comox Valley — its history, its landscape, and its people.
I appreciate that perhaps the primary purpose of the plaque, the event, and the acknowledgement is to provide encouragement for young people growing up in the Valley with their own dreams.
I recognize the importance of providing this sort of recognition, since I can recall feeling as a youngster that my own hopes were unrealistic and perhaps foolish – knowing of no one else who had grown up in the Comox Valley and written stories about the place or its people.
This might have been discouraging enough to make me abandon my dream if my parents, some of my teachers, and my own fascination with the people and history of the area hadn’t helped to keep the dream alive.
I am especially pleased that the plaque in the sidewalk is associated with the Laughing Oyster Bookstore! And I am grateful to those who came out to speak, as well as to those who sent e-mails and all those who showed up to witness the ceremony.
If this plaque and the publicity surrounding the Friday event provide hope, justification, and inspiration for future writers and other artists growing up in the district, this will give me a good deal of satisfaction.
Amongst other things, I am grateful that Dianne and our family (including our grandchildren) were present at the ceremony to witness such generosity and support expressed in the place of my own growing-up years.
Thank you again for your hospitality in Courtenay and for this remarkable honour.