We spent the morning in Yellowknife, walking to the Pilot’s Monument for a beautiful view of the city and buying groceries. Our flight to Fort Good Hope was on a very small plane that lifted into the clouds above snow and trees as far as the eyes could see. We arrived in Fort Good Hope in the evening amidst lots of snow and fog where we were greeted by the principal of Chief T’Selehye School, Morgan. After a tour of the community and school, we pulled out our mattresses and sleeping bags and had our first sleepover in the computer lab with the bright sun still peaking in through the blinds late into the night.
The following morning we met the lovely staff at Chief T’Selehye School. During our first few days, we completed our needs assessment for the community in order to provide relevant and beneficial health lessons for the students. We began by meeting with each teacher and staff member to discuss health topics. After speaking with staff members, we ventured into the community to speak with a nurse at the health station, a police officer at the RCMP building and community members at the band office and the drop in center. Each individual provided a perspective on important health topics and health resources and services as information to pass along in our lessons. With the valuable input, we began lesson outlines for the classes making sure to include highlighted health topics of nutrition, sleep, substance use and peer pressure, healthy relationships and mental health. We began scheduling programming and excitedly created our first few lesson plans for initiative. As we met with different community members, we had the opportunity to explore the community. We were struck with the beauty of the evergreens on the hill and the view of the rocks as we stood on the shore of the still frozen Mackenzie River.
One morning, we woke up to the sound of music and the smell of bacon. The staff had arrived early and were preparing a hot breakfast of pancakes and bacon for the students. We headed to the gym to play basketball and volleyball with the students before the morning assembly. We played with sand and blocks in the kindergarten room before going to the radio station, where we introduced ourselves widely to the community.
As the sun shone brightly across the snow, we raced down the roads of the community on the back of an ATV. With a grade 6/7 student Tamara, confident, fierce, kind and a beautiful dancer, driving and a little boy Louis, whose giggles echoed in the hallways as we played tag later, led us past houses and down paths. The wind was bitter but we had so much fun! As the students hung around and chatted with us on Friday night, we were up late enough to see the sky turn pink as the sun set.
Our first weekend in Fort Good Hope was nothing short of adventure and fun! At the youth centre, there was a dance where we did the Macarena, Cha Cha Slide and hula hoop games. The lights were flashing different colours, the music pumping and kids giddy with excitement. Later, we went on a beautiful hike with Morgan, Nikki, Jen and Chris, all staff from the school. With the sky clear and the sun shining, we could see the gorgeous Mackenzie Mountains in the distance. At the top of Old Baldy, we sat on the ground looking at a view of the entire town and beautiful river. We drove in the truck to the north end of the town and hung out on the shore of the river. On the way back we went to the dump to see a bear chowing down on a find in the forest. After, we cozied up in the library nook with seasoned popcorn!
On Sunday we had the opportunity to go to mass at The Church of Our Lady of Good Hope, built between 1865-1885. The church was absolutely beautiful with a navy blue roof with yellow stars, amazing paintings, colourful stained glass and wooden ornamentation. After church we were joined by a group of young students to hang out in the library and answer any questions that they might have had about puberty, LGBTQ issues and sleep. It was really nice bonding time and provided insight for us as to what the students are interested in learning. In the afternoon there was a flea market in the band hall. Yvonne, a grade 6/7 student, led us to the delicious homemade donuts and chocolate marshmallow cookies.
We had an incredible first week in FGH and are so excited to begin teaching tomorrow!!
Love, Sophie and Naomi