Letter to the editor: An Open Letter to the family of Sun Peaks

Kyle and Malina in the village. Photo supplied

Hello everyone,

This letter is written from Sun Peaks, where I have spent the better part of four years living. As someone who has worked, lived, and loved being up here, it is important to me  that I extend my heartfelt thanks to the Survivors, Kamloops locals, visitors, tourists and people overseas that are helping my family survive the madness that is 2020.

As many of you know, the early closure of this resort in March hit people hard. Businesses, foreign workers, homeowners, community members, all scrambling to figure out their next move. In these uncertain and terrifying times, my own little world was being further rocked by the fear of COVID- 19, as my partner had been diagnosed with cancer five months before. We were unsure about the continued need for treatment as the initial surgery had been successful, but we could take no chances.

We went through a 14-day quarantine together, and then voluntary isolation. We hid from the world for 7 weeks. During this time, I watched as humanity showed both it’s incredible ability to work together and it’s enormous capacity to separate itself. My heart was warmed and broken daily. The only certainty we had was that I needed to work, and my partner needed to stay safe.

I lucked out with a job in Sun Peaks Resort where I work outside and can keep tabs on everyone in my immediate vicinity. With confidence that I could have even the smallest control of my surroundings, I returned to work. I was there less than three weeks when we got the news my partner needed to start chemotherapy by mid-June. If I thought I knew fear before, I did not.

While we had been afraid for my partner for a long time, we hadn’t made much noise about it.

Only the people who had to know already knew about his health. From the moment that we found out my partner was starting chemo during a global pandemic however, that all changed. From my manager and coworkers, to friends and community members, to people I’ve never met, we asked for help and we got it.

Our GoFundMe page was shared over 1000 times and doubled our funding goal. Kamloops Now made a story of it. Our friends not only created that page, but also a meal train. We were able to adapt our living conditions to ones we could afford on one income, and my partner’s small business was bolstered. Community members gave up time and effort to look after our needs and bring exposure to our cause, and welcomed my mother from another province to come live with us.

When I look back now, I wonder at how afraid we were to ask for help. As if admitting we were in over our heads made it somehow worse. Yet now, I see this beautiful community that has so much to give being clutched by fear similar to mine now. The fear of COVID-19 and how we will need to deal with it as it comes to us from visitors and people from different places. Good ol’ Yoda said that fear leads to anger, and we’re definitely seeing some of that too.

In the very beginning of the pandemic in Sun Peaks, we had a heroic doctor make himself public and share his story with us. The community settled down with this information, applauding his honesty.

As we go forward dealing with all the mini-outbreaks the WHO assures us will happen, we need this kind of honesty from people who hold such information. No blame, no fear, just honesty. We need to look after each other.

The point of this letter, and my need to thank this community comes from my new understanding that we are all connected. The people who came to our aid during these times could do so because others were supporting them. As we shift into new protection measures against the spread of COVID-19, please don’t forget to care in the face of fear. Look out for your people so that they can give in kind to their people, and if you feel alone and scared, reach out. Everyone has a part to play in keeping the people we love safe. After all, our bubbles are much bigger than we think.


Malina Garner

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