A big thank you!
Some that read my blog know that I am teaching in a very small northern community. The entire population is about 600 people. We have a gas station that is sometimes out of gas, like the day before we were all trying to get out of here for Christmas it was scrabble around to see who had extra gas in a gas cans and we drove out in group to ensure the safety of all as it was about -50 with the wind chill. There was enough gas to get to town, but there was no gas for if you ran into a problem in the 200 km drive to the next community.
We have two stores, the General store and the Northern. Mail comes in twice per week and there is no underground plumbing, my water comes to my home via a water truck. This is all the children in this community know and they thought everyone gets their water delivered to their home everywhere via a water truck. There is no restaurants or movie theatre. There are no traffic lights, our students do not know common street signs as there are none here. Indeed, our students do not know road safety as the speed limit in town is 30 km/hr, or 20 mph and people do not speed. The entire community is about 3 block wide and maybe 2 miles long. We have uptown and downtown, but those expression have no meaning for me as downtown isn't our business district, if that's what you want to call a gas station, a general store, a craft store, a hotel, a fire department, a municipal hall etc.
The lifestyle here for our students is different, limited in comparison to a city, but they do have very differnet experiences. I have see children as young as 8-years-old out on quads. When I was growing up there were still places kids had dirt bikes, which has mostly disappeared from cities now, but here the kids still have that kind of experience. And here parents do not have the same concerns about the safety of their kids when they go out, it is much like it was when I was growing up. Students go out into the bush and live on the land, they get experiences trapping, hunting and drying moose meat. I do not have cold weather survivor skills, but the kids here do. I carry a sleeping bag, candles and matches in my car.
The community is poor, with about half the average household income of the territory as a whole. Several of my students do not have phones and I have heard of people having water delivery cut off for non-payment of the water bill. We take for granted we have water coming to our homes, but here if you can't pay for it you do not get water, and it costs the average household about $100/month for water. The internet at home is not common in this community. The income in the community is very split so you have households with above average income and households with perhaps 1/10 the average. We have a breakfast program in our school.
I have some really great students but our school loses the girls more then the boys. In high school we have 18 boys and 11 girls and I want to help keep the girls in school. Our school is very different then what I knew in the city. We start our school day with our sharing circle. Yesterday we were graced with a visit from one of our students who is not in school this year, and her beautiful baby girl. We have 14 students from another community visiting this week coming up so it was crazy getting the whole high school involved to welcome these students to our community. It was a different day, but many of the school days up here are different.
This year I planned to take 4 of the female students with me to Vancouver to do a science trip and to give them an opportunity to see what else is out there during our spring break. These 4 are grade 8 and 9 girls. The one girl has the ability to be the first native math and science teacher from the NWT. I am not sure that she is interested in that path, but she has such potential and I am really trying to keep her options open. I really want to see these girls finish their high school, but also open their eyes to what else can exist for them.
I thought I had funding in place and I found my belief was incorrect. I have a big thank you to one member of our caps community for helping me out and with his pledge and some more scrambling I managed to find 2/3rds of what I thought I had, which is enough to make the trip happen. I am still looking to find a bit more so we can do more things, but I have the basics covered.
So, in a couple weeks I will be taking 4 girls to Vancouver to see things that they do not get an opportunity to see in a small community like this. I will be taking them to Science World, the aquarium, museums, planetarium, imax theater, and many of the things that are taken for granted in a city. And then there is the fun stuff, the swimming pools with the water slides, a big screen theatre, maybe skiing, bike riding, and so on. I will be taking them to a city school, where each grade in the school has 3 times as many students as our entire k-12 school.
Thank you so much donnernv for enabling me to make this happen.