Phew! Just got back from an exhausting first night volunteering at the Friendship Centre, the local community centre. For the rest of our time in Fort Providence we have offered to volunteer weekly at the Friendship Centre, and we are looking forward to hanging out with the students outside the classroom! Since it’s Mental Health Awareness Week in the community, we ran a Youth Self Care night, which included bracelet making, crafts and manicures! We had tons of energy and a great turnout. This Sunday, we’re hosting a Movie Night with popcorn and the movie Inside Out!
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s reflect on the past week..
Last Wednesday was Youth Appreciation Day in the community. It was a jam-packed day of banner making, a community walk, drum circles and a youth-led inquiry. While the kids brainstormed ways to make the community more welcoming and youth-oriented, we were busy in the kitchen making smoothies for the smoothie cafe! Students had great ideas like fundraising for a new Friendship Centre and more open gym at later hours. It was inspiring to see the students collaborate and take initiative to improve their community!
We wrapped up our first week of teaching our Grade 4 to 12 classes, covering topics such as nutrition, fitness, healthy sleeping, and hydration. Meanwhile, we have been keeping in touch with the Health Centre and staff at Deh Gah to better tailor our lessons to the students and community.
On Saturday, our friend Rachel, one of the mental health counsellors in the community, invited us to Hay River. On the way we stopped by Kakisa, a town of 70 people, and the beautiful Lady Evelyn Falls. Hay River is a town of 3800 but it already felt like the big city in comparison to Fort Providence! We ran some errands, hit the beach and did another grocery run before heading back. And if our day couldn’t get any better, that night we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights! Eddie (our go-to tech guy at Deh Gah) knew how badly we were trying to see them and texted us to go outside if we were still awake. We had just finished a movie so we ran outside in our PJs at 12:30am just in time to watch the auroras light up the sky right behind our home! To make the story even more exciting, Thor, a volunteer and table tennis coach from the school, was also out with his camera and offered to take this incredible photos of us with the lights. What a perfect way to end our first week!
So what do we do when we’re not at school? Aside from lesson planning, we have been cooking and working out, a lot! Although we both miss CoGro bagels and coffee, it has been nutritious (and delicious) cooking all of our own food. We tried homemade kale chips and spaghetti squash for the first time (Jasmine) while finishing off our second box of cereal (Christine)… We have also become regulars at boot camp, a fitness class run four times a week in the school gym. Often when we are home, a crew of kids will appear outside our house asking us hang out. The other night we went to the park with them to work on our basketball skills (Christine) and play with the neighbourhood dogs (Jasmine). We almost lost track of time – the sun sets late (almost 10pm)! With the warm weather lately, we also like walking, especially if it’s dog-walking! On Sunday, we went on a 11KM walk with some friends and Lady (Rachel’s dog) to Big River for brunch. Safe to say we have been keeping very busy!
As we mentioned earlier, this week is Mental Health Awareness Week. Our mental health lessons have been going well so far. We are focusing on introducing concepts such as the mental health spectrum, stigmas, depression, anxiety, stress, coping and self care. The community is putting on lots of events all week and we have been eager to help out to put a spotlight on mental well-being in the community.
In addition to Mental Health Awareness Week, the grade 5/6s are away at Spring Camp everyday this week. We have been joining them on the land as they learn to catch and smoke fish, make dreamcatchers, tan a moose hide and much more! It has been an incredible opportunity to spend time with the students outdoors where many of them are really in their element.
All in all, these first couple weeks have been more than we could have asked for and we are so grateful for all the experiences and the relationships we have made so far.
From north of 60 to our readers in the south,
J & C