In April 2020 the Mission Visitor Centre had temporarily closed its doors but Tourism Mission continued to work behind the scenes on many projects and to answer the phone and email inquiries of future travellers to the community.
This was when the team first connected with California-based author Suzanne Mirviss who had been greatly disappointed when her planned Inside Passage cruise from Vancouver to Alaska was dashed due to border closures between Canada and the USA. The intent for this trip had been to get inspiration for her third children’s book featuring “Sammi”, a small but curious owl that travels the world on adventures. Like so many others, Suzanne chose to rethink her situation and, rather than travelling to BC, she turned to “online dreaming” for her writing inspiration.
While researching British Columbia, she came across information on Mission’s annual Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival and decided to write a book about Sammi coming to Canada to meet the eagles and witness the spawning salmon. She reached out to Clare Seeley at Tourism Mission for more information. As many resources such as libraries and universities were closed due to COVID-19, Clare jumped in and assisted Suzanne with her research, connecting her to groups including the volunteer festival team. What ensued was not only a helpful exchange of information but the beginning of a continuing friendship.
Fast forward to February 2021 and “Hello from Sammi in Canada” is written and published, featuring both Sammi’s travels to the Lower Mainland and beautiful watercolour illustrations all undertaken by Suzanne herself. Her hope is that it will help take children away from the stress of the pandemic to a world where everyone gets along, helps each other, and recognizes just how connected we all can be no matter where we are in the world.
Clare and Suzanne continue to correspond, “I hope we will get to meet in person one day”, says Clare. “This has been such an amazing journey and good news story during a difficult year for the tourism industry”.
Copies of “Hello from Sammi in Canada” are available at the Mission Visitor Information Centre at 34033 Lougheed Highway.