We have had the most amazing week and are so excited to share our stories!!!
On Monday there was no school because it was the long weekend. We had the opportunity to hike with Mat and Leslie, staff at CTS, to Old Baldy, our favourite look out spot. With our 3 extra furry adventure buddies, we took to the trails behind Old Baldy with gorgeous views of the trees and Mackenzie Mountains in the distance. Sophie definitely made some new best friends with the pups. It was really sunny and hot; a perfect way to spend the long weekend!
This week at the school there was cultural camp out on the land so we were able to go on Tuesday, Thursday morning, and Friday. On Tuesday we headed out with the small group of high school students, some staff and elders. We helped set up the tipi by wrapping a tarp around the wooden structure. The women then went into the bush to collect branches for the floor of the tipi and tent. An elder, Camilla, explained to us the different types of brush used when families are on the land. We eventually got the hand of snapping the perfect branches for the floor. Some of the high school students later laid it out beautifully in specific directions. We collected labrador to make delicious tea. The birch sap was being boiled on the stove that the class had previously collected. After lunch, we skinned caribou hides with the help of Vicky, an elder in FGH. We pulled the fur from the hide with either our hands or a knife. It was really really cool!
On Thursday morning we headed out to the bush with the younger students. We mostly played outside and explored the trees and rocks while asking elders about how different plants are used for traditional medicine. The students made girls and boys clubs in the forest. Rose, a staff at CTS, cut the massive white fish from the river and showed us how to prepare the fish for both cooking and dry fish. It was really impressive to watch! As she prepared the fish, many of the staff, elders and us chatted and basked in the sun. Naomi helped some of the girls pluck a duck which was awesome (Betty showed us how to do it properly). Sophie loved helping the younger students build tipis. For lunch, Naomi tried some delicious duck that the elders made on the fire.
Friday was our favourite day at culture camp because we had all of our wonderful students out on the land from every single grade. The morning was sent taking in the sun and exploring with students. An elder prepared a muskrat while others continued to prepare the large white fish. Naomi had the opportunity to cook a duck on the fire, holding up the wing to place it in the fire and using a stick afterward to make the sure the skin was fully cooked. After removing all the black from the body, an elder taught her how to cut the duck and prepare parts of it to cook for lunch. It was amazing learning from the elders traditional ways of living on the land. We had a delicious lunch before watching the Hand Games. The older male students stood or kneeled at one end playing on their drums and singing (while we stood in awe, especially once elders joined in). The younger male students played Hand Games, moving to the music and trying to get all of their sticks on their team’s side. It was incredible to watch! Jen, a staff at CTS, and Naomi went on a beautiful ride in a little motor thing of some type which was a blast. We absolutely loved culture camp and value the time students were able to spend on the land with their elders learning and exploring.
We always love getting into the classroom and speaking with students about different health topics. Although we had fewer lessons this week because of culture camp, each lesson was valuable for both the students and us. In our grade ½ class, we had a gym class with line tag, octopus and stretching. Our small group activity was talking about healthy foods while snacking on crackers and cheese. With the grade ¾’s, we had a lesson on grief management. We chatted about ways to cope with the loss of someone we love and importance of listening to our emotions. In our grade 6/7 class, we had a lesson on healthy relationships, abuse and consent whilst focusing on activities and videos to stress that consent is freely given, ongoing and enthusiastic. With our energetic grade 8/9’s, we had discussions on healthy relationships, abuse and consent as well as substance use and peer pressure. Both very important topics with resources provided at the end for students to access and great questions answered.
We really enjoyed speaking with a couple in the community, Denise and Thomas, and hearing their stories from when they raised their family on the land. For our grief management lessons, they graciously provided us insight into the Dene culture for coping with the loss of a loved one so our lessons were culturally relevant for the students.
Run club was lots of fun this week again! On Tuesday, we had a great turn out of younger students so we went for a walk/run on a new route through town. Our snacks were yummy kiwis! Thursday was another really fun run to the river with beautiful breezes and the sun shining. We had veggies and dip that were once again demolished by our running buddies.
We also had a staff soccer game against the grade ⅚ class which was a blast. Our new favourite pastime is hide and seek on quads! Shout-out to Jocelyn and Marcus for playing with us (safely-ish, don’t worry parents). The wind in our hair and dust in our faces, screaming and laughing, the best way to take advantage of the prolonged sunlight. But of course, you can always find us beading around the school! During rec time, we continue to play lots of volleyball with older students and tag or Across Canada with younger students. Naomi is taking on the boys 1v1 with basketball. We have had cuddle and reading time with little munchkins and chill time with older students in the library. Rec time is such a valuable opportunity to connect with students and have lots of fun. We had a delicious lunch at the band hall of chili made with moose meat!
Hoping for a more sustainable way for speaking about nutrition, we planned a cooking class for parents when we could prepare healthy meals and explain our lessons in the school. We didn’t have any parents show up which was a test for our hyper planning personalities. It turned into a cooking class for older students during rec time. They learned how to make tortilla pizzas with chicken and peppers and rice dishes with vegetables. Go Sophie for healthy veggie eating! The class was really fun and had delicious results! Other programming we had this week was a boys night for all ages on Friday night which was a huge success! We had lots of students in the gym playing floor hockey, basketball and an intense game of bunker dodgeball. We made homemade tacos with lots of toppings and snacks to go along. After eating, we went to the library to share ghost stories and play some hilarious games. Once the younger boys left, we had a movie night with the older students (who doesn’t love Mean Girls?). It was such a fun night!!
On Saturday, we went on an incredible hike with Mat, Leslie, Esker and Mel to the ramparts. The weather was perfect as we made our way up and down hills to a beautiful lookout where we could see the cliffs along the river. On the way back, we trekked off trail to the shore and walked along the rocks. That night we had the most delicious dinner all from scratch (the biggest shout-out to our favourite chef Mat), played Anomia (such a QHO classic) and listened to beautiful guitar playing. Our walk home was lit up by a sky painted with orange and pink. On Sunday, Naomi went to the last service at the church with lots of elders and students. Leon and Camilla, elders in the community, offered to take us on a boat ride on the Mackenzie River. The sun was shining and the wind was amazing as we went by massive cliffs. However, the boat broke down so we ended up paddling back to the point (we’re thankful we both grew up canoeing). It was still a really fun adventure and hopefully we can get back out on the water! Here’s to our last week in our favourite community!
Love, Sophie and Naomi