It’s the end of our first week of our expansion initiative here in Fort Good Hope, where we are working to create a solid partnership between QHO and the community for years to come! We spent our week meeting with prominent members of the community such as the Band Council, Nurses, RCMP Officers, Community Health Representatives, and teachers. We are in the process of completing a community profile so that our health program can be as needs-based as possible. Next week we will be in the classroom surveying students to find out what health topics they are interested in so we can make sure they will be engaged in our health teachings.
Our first couple days we explored the town and went hiking on Old Baldy, a hill that has several trails near where we’re staying. We have been warned that there are a lot of Black Bears around, so we are exploring with caution! At the other end of town, there is also a beautiful church that we were lucky enough to see inside. It is the oldest church in the Northwest Territories and the town is very proud of it! All paint was made with fish oils and berries, so the colours have lasted through hundreds of years.
We have set up camp in the school, which has been great for getting to know the teachers and the students. The school has an incredible basketball program and even though the season is over, the kids are in the gym every single night practicing for next year. Many of the kids tell us they like LeBron James and the Cavaliers, and tease John about his favourite team, the Toronto Raptors, who aren’t doing so well against the Cavs at the moment.
There is also an adult wellness class that takes place every evening, and a volleyball tournament coming up for the whole town to participate in (John has joined the teacher’s team!). We have also been attending programming at the Wellness Drop In Centre. On Tues
day Megan went to Women’s night where they had relaxation items such as foot baths and face masks, which was a great opportunity to get to know youth outside of school. On Thursday night we both went to “Boy’s Night”, where we got to hear traditional drumming, singing, and hear some of the history behind the songs.
We’ve also been making many new friends around town, including Lawrence (AKA Maluck), who has been kind enough to take us to his house on the land where he does hunting and trapping as well as tanning moose hide.
We have also been making many friends of the canine variety during our daily walks. We have took it upon ourselves to give each of them names as we don’t actually know their real ones. Our most common doggo companions are Goldy and Bruno and our friends’ puppy Silver who always seem to be outside during our walks around town.
Geese are just starting to arrive in the area, so many people are preparing to go down river hunting on their Ski-Doos. This weekend was supposed to be the start of a 10 day on-the-land camp for elders and youth, but unfortunately had to be postponed when a couple members of the community passed away. It was incredible to see the whole community rally around the affected families and host multiple fundraisers, including bingo night and a bake sale to support the families with funeral costs.
We are still awaiting the famous “Ice Break” which is apparently so loud that you can hear it from anywhere in town! Once this happens we have many standing invitations from locals to take us on boat rides up the river to see more of the land and some of their hunting routes.
Stay updated for more about what we’re doing here in Fort Good Hope.
Megan and John