Quesnsel’s loss is Whistler’s gain

Japanese volunteer is heading to Whistler to spend the winter snowboarding

Jun Ito honed his boarding skills in Quesnel.

Jun Ito honed his boarding skills in Quesnel.

Jonas Gagnon

Observer Reporter

Arriving here in June, just in time to take part in a wonderful Cariboo summer, Jun Ito has now left Quesnel and the Shiraoi House, just in time to avoid a Cariboo winter.

But it’s not to avoid winter that Ito is going south, though Cariboo winter’s are hard on Japanese who are used to much milder temperatures. Instead Ito is going to Whistler where he’ll be able to snowboard on a world class mountain.

He will not, however, forget Quesnel and his first taste of Canadian life.

“I like Canadian life,” Ito said.

“It moves much more slowly here.”

In this slow pace, Ito has found friends at the skatepark and enjoyed time spent ranging around the outskirts of the city in its beautiful backyard.

Looking back on his short time here, approximately three months, both Billy Barker Days and a trip to see the waterfall at Deep Creek, stick out in his mind.

That is beside the hours spent in Shiraoi House teaching and learning.

Ito came to Canada with simple, high school English and a need to learn how to speak so he could get a job in Whistler for the winter.

“It was helpful to speak with native speakers,” he said.

In fact, if you’ve stepped into the Shiraoi House over the summer you’ve probably seen Ito, neck bent over reams of English homework. He was there five days a week and when there wasn’t someone to teach Japanese language and culture, that’s what he was doing.

Not only did he learn more about English, to a point where he is much easier in conversations than when he arrived, but he learned how difficult his own language is for the people he taught. Explaining some concepts of Japanese grammar had him at a loss how to clarify differences that are nearly untranslatable.

Ito is looking forward to snowboarding in Whistler. Though he has been skateboarding all summer it has been simply a stand in for his real passion – snowboarding. He used to spend his winter’s on hills in Japan, snowboarding professionally and looks forward to spending copious amounts of time on the slopes once again.

After winter is over and the fresh powder is gone from the slopes of Whistler and Blackcomb, Ito plans to come back north to canoe the Bowron Lakes with some of his Quesnel friends.

But until then, he’ll be studying his English and hitting the slopes down south.