Claire Challen is a Bulkley Valley treasure.  She’s an athlete as well as a ski coach/fitness coach.  Many, many, members in our community have benefited from her expertise both on the slopes (not me, I dislike skiing) and in fitness training.  I can say from experience on the latter, that while she might be a little package, she’ll kick your ass. She’s not just strong physically though, she’s confident and has strength of mind too.

Additionally, Claire is warm, witty, and kind.  She carries a peace with her, she’s soft spoken.  She has the brightest green eyes and I only mention that because they absolutely light up when she laughs, and sometimes have a twinkle when she says something cheeky.

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Claire for the last 10 or so years of my life and every time we speak, I’m encouraged somehow.  She’s got a lifetime of experiences, adventures, and wisdom to share and many of her answers resonated with me.

Welcome to the table, Claire!

How long have you called the Bulkley Valley home?

I was born in the UK but raised in Smithers. As a teen I remember wishing I was from somewhere else, perhaps somewhere bigger. Yet this small town helped shape me and allowed me the space and freedom to grow surrounded by caring, real people. Growing up without all the hustle and bustle of a larger city, days were spent with family and friends, taking part in sports and spending time in the outdoors. The Bulkley Valley will always be home.

What is one thing you’ve learned about friendship (or community)?

To have grown up in a small town is a truly beautiful thing. I’ve learned our connections to others are what matter. Together we share joy, success, and loss. We don’t know everyone personally but there is always a connection nonetheless. One of the most endearing things I’ve always been aware of in this community is the openness to gather with all ages. The Glenwood Hall events are a shining example of teenagers to seniors singing, laughing, dancing, sharing together. Each time I’m there I always take a look around at the incredible mix of folks. This is small town living and an experience I don’t believe I’d have found living in a larger centre.

What is one area you are growing in?

It’s difficult to pick just one. I guess one thing is I’m trying to carve out more quiet time for myself. I know the to-do list will always be there. I know taking a break will likely ramp up my productivity, yet I have a really hard time taking a moment to myself when there are tasks to be done!

What is one thing you would say to your younger self?

Believe in you. Honour your thoughts and feelings. If you have an idea, a dream, a goal, then chase it with your whole heart. It’s there inside of you for a reason and you are meant to follow it.

Who inspires you and why?

Kind people who open their hearts and doors to others. People who exude warmth and joy.  Their love and joy sent out is multiplied over and over and we are all better for it. 

What do you know is true, and how do you carry that day to day?

Giving thanks each morning helps me to begin each day with positivity. Seeking laughter and opening my heart to the wonder in each day fills me up.