After settling in, we are starting to get into the swing of things here in Mishkeegogamang. Before starting school on Monday, we had a jam-packed weekend in Pickle Lake. On Saturday, we had the opportunity to meet the mayor of Pickle Lake, Roy, and his wife Lucie. They also run a super high tech weather station that overlooks the airport, as well as a million and one other things around town. Lucie then gave us the full tour of Pickle Lake and introduced us to many of the community members. One thing we’ve learned about Northern communities is that there is a never-ending supply of friendly and hospitable people. We finished our Saturday night with karaoke at the community hall with the kids and followed that up with – you guessed it – more karaoke at Brent’s house with some of our new friends. On Sunday, our trusty rental van was able to travel another full degree of latitude North on the Northern dirt road. We spent the day exploring the land with some teachers from Pickle Lake and trying a bunch of new activities and foods, including some delicious bannock dogs over an open fire.
We are now spending our full days at Missabay Community School in Mishkeegogamang. Each day we drive about 20 minutes outside of Pickle Lake to the reserve. The school is a beautiful building with three wings; primary, junior, and intermediate, all joined by a central lunch area. Despite only having three hallways, Aaron still manages to get lost daily. We have already had the opportunity to teach about bullying, self-esteem, and healthy relationships, as well as hygiene. The kids are full of energy and we are excited to continue to teach and run fun activities during the lunch hour. We are also eager to get into the new community centre in Mish and play a ton of different sports after school.
This week Roy and Lucie graciously hosted us for dinner at their beautiful home. We all had our first taste of moose (which was delicious) and Aaron made sure there were no leftovers. The moose that we ate was killed, clean and cooked by Roy and Lucie, making it new and unique experience for all of us. We also spent more time with our new best friends, Roy and Lucie’s Burmese mountain dogs, who might just be the cutest dogs we have ever seen. Roy and Lucie also volunteered us to help out at their first ever First Responders’ Appreciation Day! We had a lot of fun meeting people from the community and flipping burgers.
It’s crazy to think we’ve only been in Pickle Lake a week and the amount of things we have done already. Just this past weekend we went camping with the Junior Canadian Rangers, an organization which strives to bring together youth in the community, as well as teach them both traditional and ranger skills. The trip was a ton of fun as we learned navigational skills, camped outdoors in wall tents, and ate army rations. Not to mention, the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. We even got to see the Northern lights! Shout out to the incredible Brent Labine for hosting us on the trip, giving us the chance to teach the kids about substance abuse and nutrition, and just being an overall awesome person. Despite the sun-burns, cold toes, getting locked out our car, and subsisting on 5 year old food, we survived the weekend. Check back in with us later this week to see what other crazy shenanigans the Pickle-Mish crew gets into.
A-Aron and Elaine