I had an urge to write about community because I feel that in what we are witnessing in our world right now, something hopeful around humans being able to co-exist would be helpful.
For those that don’t know, I live up a mountain 40 minutes from Kamloops, B.C., surrounded by cattle ranches. I stick out like a sore thumb, having a retreat center with horses in the middle of ranch country. I wasn’t raised on a ranch, I was raised outside of Hamilton with a very different upbringing than what exists here.
When I first moved here people were skeptical. Who is this crazy horse lady coming from the coast?
My neighbours checked me out, they were a bit cautious, and they told me so. They said to me, “you fit in, but we still think you’re a bit crazy.” And that’s okay.
Most likely I have very different political beliefs and life beliefs than the community I live with in this valley. I have a different background, I run a somewhat spiritual retreat center in a very conservative ranching community.
There are a wide variety of people that live in this valley, but when I first moved up here I was blown away by the community support. When you live in a rural environment, things like political beliefs or religious beliefs are not at the center of community. We help each other out, we rely on each other a lot more, and at the end of the day that other stuff doesn’t matter.
I have never lived in a place where I have felt as supported and taken care of as a I do here. I can’t tell you how many times since living here that I have needed to rely on one of my ranching neighbours to help me when we lost power in winter, or trees came down on roofs. Without even asking they are here to help.
Or this summer, when the Embleton Mountain wildfire was right beside us. People came to check in on each other, and we gathered to talk about how we can help one another. This is true community.
I have learned to respect my ranching neighbours and honour their way of life, they are some of the most gentlest, kindest and intelligent people I have ever met. True ‘salt of the earth’ people that would give you the shirt off their back without a thought. Sometimes I truly would not have been okay without them.
So, even though we are different, and even though we probably don’t align with all of our belief systems, we still come together. This is what humanity is capable of.
I am deeply grateful that I live here, not just for the beauty of the land, but the beauty of the people. I understand it can be very challenging when our beliefs don’t align. But at the core of humanity we know how to do community, and I hope this can be an example.
At the end of the day we are all human and we need each other. I believe we can find a way to do that, and be respectful to all.
~ Hilary Schneider owns and operates the Epona Rise Retreat Center, 15 minutes from Sun Peaks on the Heffley Louis Creek Road.
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