We have absolutely loved our time in Fort Good Hope and will always cherish the memories we made, relationships we built and lessons we learned from our favourite community. It was an amazing experience and we can’t believe how quickly the time has gone by. We are both excited and sad to share our last blog post of our initiative with the stories from this past week.
On Monday, there was no school so we had a wonderful day on the Mackenzie River (yay to fixed boat engines)! Leon and Camilla took us out in the boat and with wind in our hair and the boat flying across the waves, we had one of our favourite experiences. On the river, there were massive cliffs and we saw the Gateway to the North. We were in awe of the landscape as we passed trees, icebergs and cliffs to arrive at Camilla’s cabin. At the cabin, we relaxed and she showed us around the beautiful land.
This week there was an on the land camp for families out by Rabbit Skin. Many people set up tents with stoves and porches. The women were working on moose hides all week – first removing the meat, skinning the hide of fur and scraping it. We headed out two evenings to chat with elders and play games with the students. There were lots of adorable babies and delicious food cooking on the outdoor fire.
During our last week, we planned lots of lessons on a variety of topics for every class. In the kindergarten class, we talked about peer relationships and respect, playing lots of games and drawing pictures of people we respect. One of our favourite lessons with the kindergarten class was our lesson on sleep where we sang the Sleeping Bunnies song and practiced relaxing methods to fall asleep. We had lots of fun time outside on the playground with the adorable munchkins! Our sweet grade ½’s loved a free gym time with scooters and hula hoops (a big throwback to our elementary school memories) and a calming yoga class. In our grade ¾ class, we taught nutrition by planning healthy meals and discussing the importance of drinking water rather than pop. We also had a lesson on mental health and physical activity before spending our last lesson with the class outside on the playground. We had great lessons with our grade ⅚ class on grief management and substances and peer pressure. We had the opportunity to speak with students about losses they experienced in their lives and how we can effectively cope with grief. The discussion about substance use and peer pressure was amazing with lots of great questions and perspectives on substances.
We had a really effective lesson on substance use and peer pressure in our grade 6/7 class. After discussing different substances and substance abuse, we provided scenarios about peer pressure and drinking that the students had to work through together. A really important activity that was appreciated by students! Our grade 8/9 class is always very energetic and we enjoyed our lessons on grief management and nutrition and goal setting. We had discussions about the negative impacts of relying on substances to cope with grief and brainstormed people in our lives that we can rely on. We also really enjoyed discussing students’ goals and how they can work towards achieving them.
In our grade 10 class, we facilitated a discussion on healthy relationships, abuse and consent with an activity writing a letter to a person in our life that we are grateful for and stressing that every single person deserves a healthy, happy, safe, comfortable, fulfilling and consensual relationship. We also had a lesson on mental health and goal setting that students really enjoyed. We love our grade 11/12 class because we always have really great discussions and activities. There was a lesson on grief management where we printed adult colouring sheets for students to use while discussing difficult topics. We also had a lesson on mental health and goal setting which was really fun and we ended with warm and fuzzies (a QHO classic) for every student. Another lesson was on healthy relationships, abuse and consent. It was a really important lesson with lots of great discussion and student involvement.
We had a girls night for our younger students on Wednesday in the form of a tea party. In the gym, we played with hula hoops, skipping ropes and had a dance competition before heading to the kitchen. Our snack was cucumber and cream cheese and PB and J sandwiches as well as iced tea, popcorn and biscuits. The girls really enjoyed munching and then hanging out in the library.
On Thursday, we had our very last run club! We took a nice walk to the point with a group of students to sit by the river under the sun. It was an opportunity to chat and say individual goodbyes. Our special snack was brownies that they absolutely loved!
When we aren’t teaching we are hanging out with students, whether that be in the gym during rec, at the field (we’ve been told it is not called a park by students several times haha) or the river. If you stay up late enough, there are beautiful sunsets before the sun rises soon after. One of our favourite memories was driving around on the quads and playing basketball on the outdoor court before watching the sun set with a group of students at the river. It was absolutely beautiful and we loved the company (but not so much the mosquitos).
On our final day at the school, we gave out thank you cards and said our final goodbyes to the staff, expressing our gratitude for the opportunity to teach in their classrooms and learn from the community. Our last lessons were filled with wonderful cards made by our students, lots of group hugs and even a cake made by our sweet grade ½ class. At the end of the day it was really difficult to hug goodbye to staff and students who became our second home. We spent our last evening at Tammy’s house, a staff at CTS, and took a final walk to the river with a few of our students. It was the perfect way to say, “see you later Fort Good Hope and thank you”.
Our flight to Yellowknife was beautiful as always but we were so sad that we were leaving Fort Good Hope. With dark clouds and rain coming down, the weather definitely reflected our mood as we took off. It was made a little better by Bruce’s (our pilot) jokes. Once in Yellowknife, we went for lunch with Quentin and Bruce, our pilots, which was lots of fun. We said a final goodbye to a student that was at the airport. We were able to sit in the Embleton House reflecting on our experiences and memories that mean so much to us.
Before we end our blog for our 2019 initiative, we want to briefly provide a little bit of our reflection on our time in Fort Good Hope. We are firstly so incredibly grateful for each and every student we had the opportunity to teach and get to know. Through lessons, we were in awe of their curiosity and insight and we had so much fun facilitating discussions about health. We absolutely loved each one our programs outside of class time and they were made successful and valuable by students’ participation and excitement. Their resiliency, strength and enthusiasm to learn will forever be imprinted in our hearts. They are the heart of health education and creating positive futures. We are also very thankful for the staff that made Fort Good Hope feel like home by exploring with us out in nature, showing us around town and cooking us delicious meals. The initiative would not have been made possible without their support and guidance, especially principal Morgan. We cannot express how much we enjoyed building relationships with members of the community and we are humbled by their gracious hospitality and willingness to share their culture and knowledge with us. And our last note is to Fort Good Hope itself; a community of rich culture, amazing people and a landscape that we will never forget. Here’s to rock cliffs and green trees, caribou and muskox, lessons and programming, students and staff, health and happiness and Dene people and culture!
Sophie is home safe and sound and Naomi is attempting to get back to Ontario despite more cancelled and delayed flights (bad travel luck yikes) and a phone that isn’t working. There is no ice cream but there are homemade chocolate marshmallow cookies from a student, Sarah, that will definitely do the trick! We love you FGH <3
Love, Sophie and Naomi