In 1972, Jasper entered into a sisterhood that has held strong through the good times and the bad.
Its sibling relationship with Hakone, Japan has withstood distance, tsunamis and H1N1 outbreaks, and through it all, a powerful friendship has formed.
“Forty years is a really long time to be really faithful to that relationship. It’s like a good marriage. It’s working,” said Pattie Pavlov, executive director of the Jasper Park Chamber of Commerce.
“This twinning relationship offers an opportunity to really form a bond, be it tourism related or be it business related, it serves a purpose in making the world a warmer place.”
When Jasper and Hakone established their sister relationship 40 years ago, it was a very different world. People didn’t have personal computers, Internet, social media sites or smartphones.
“It was a time when the world was so big and twinning was a way of joining with other nations,” said Pavlov.
These days, the world can seem small, with everyone connected with Facebook, Twitter and other online sites, but the connections between people have become less real, said Pavlov. So, in that way, she says, sister city relationships are almost more important now than ever.
“Being able to twin and form actual relationships on the other end is really important to keeping a harmonious, global nation. So, to me, to maintain those relationships is vitally important,” she said.
To celebrate 40 years as sisters, a group of Jasperites will be making a trip to Hakone Oct. 24 - Nov. 4.
So far, nine people have expressed interest in representing Jasper in Japan.
The municipality budgeted $12,000 for the trip and on Aug. 21 will vote on how to allocate that money.
There could be as many as five councillors and the mayor on the trip, depending on how the funds are divvied up.
In past years, the mayor’s trip has been paid in full, while councillors have had their trips subsidized by the remaining funds.
In anticipation of the trip, the chamber of commerce will use its Sept. 11 meeting as an opportunity to celebrate the 40 year relationship.
Business owners who are unable to visit Hakone, will then have an opportunity to record a video message to be sent to Japan with the delegation.
The last time a group of Jasperites made the trip to Hakone was in 2004. A delegation from Hakone was meant to make the trip to Jasper in 2009, but because of the H1N1 epidemic, the trip was postponed until 2010.
The next delegation from Hakone is expected to visit Jasper in 2014.
“So it gives us a couple years to prepare how we’ll welcome them,” said Pavlov.
If any Jasperites are interested in making the trip to Hakone in October, Pavlov said, “let us know and we can try and squeeze them in. ... Just be ready to pay the deposit and then the balance.”
To sign up, contact Pavlov at firstname.lastname@example.org.