My time in Colville Lake has come to an end (for now). I would absolutely love to return to this community in the future as a teacher. My class was AMAZING! I won the jackpot for fun students and am so sad that I won't be their teacher next year.
The end of the school year was choppy. There were a lot of unforeseen school closures and I often felt very out of the loop as to what was happening or when school would be in. Going with the flow was a necessity in survival during these weeks. The joys of small town living meant that school closure days turned into community adventure days. I would often wake up to kids knocking on my door wanting me to come out to play. Lots of time was spent at the park, the dock, outside the church, walking around Colville Lake, and going to the Coop.
Two introverts and an extrovert living in a small cabin was becoming a little bit too much for everyone involved. Long story short, I moved to another house across town. The above picture was my new home. My time there was wonderful. Angela came over many nights for dinner and I was able to host some ladies nights with different friends in the community. With the many school closures I ended up using my house to prep and prepare some activities in. The above girls came over and made a birthday cake for their mom and auntie.
The community had a few flee markets at the gym. I came ready to buy lots of yummy food. I wanted to try a little bit of everything and left very full! My favourite nurse also came for a three day clinic. She did vaccinations and a girls health talk at the school. Emma stayed with me at my new house. Emma has become a very dear friend to me while I have been up north. I am so glad that I will be able to visit with her lots while I am in BC as she is also from Langley.
The community drives up to a nearby camp for Sunday cookouts. The cookout happens after mass and prayers. I joined in one Sunday and LOVED all the yummy food. During this picnic I was able to try trout head for the first time. The cheek is so juicy and delicious.
One of my favourite things to hear while walking around Colville was this young woman yell out, "MS. EVANS, WANT TO GO FOR A RIDE?!" Of course, I would always say yes. Kayla is a very safe four wheeler driver and one of the happiest people I have ever met. I will miss our many adventures around town.
This munchkin is standing infront of Colville Lake Church. The church was established by Bern Will Brown, a priest who passed away a few years ago. Bern Will's wife still lives beside the church and is a pillar within the community. Bern Will and his wife had a bunch of cabins built lake front, which were used as accommodations for tourists who came up to fish. The cabins are still there, but it has been many years since they have been rented out.
The picture to the right is in the living room of my neighbour. They are processing moose meat. This is the only form I saw moose in while up north. I had hoped to see many wondering around. Seeing a live moose remains on my bucket list! This year I ate a lot of caribou, moose, and birds. I find moose very similar to caribou; however, I am told that caribou meat is more flavourful. Processing meat comes with a few rules. First, you must not waste any part of the animal. They even use the blood to make soup. Second, you are not supposed to sell meat that comes from the land. The land has gifted it to you and you can share that gift with those around you. Third, females can not step over the meat or any blood from the animal.
In planning for the end of the year I had hoped to have Friday cookouts with my class. I wanted to use the fire pit we used during spring carnival and planned to some nature art projects for us to work on while food cooked. Unfortunately, school was closed a lot and the cookouts never happened. I took those supplies I had bought for our Friday's and had many little camp fires outside my house. My landlord found me a barrel to use and the kids taught me the best way to make a fire.
The ice is almost fully melted and the kids have been playing the water most days. They are braver and stronger than I. They often ask me why I still wear a hat and jacket. They remind me that it is summer now and I should be dressing accordingly. I remind them that we live in the Arctic and summer is cold.
Sibli Gill, from a surrey school, helps with a knitting club at her school. Her knitting club made scarfs for the students of Colville Lake. The scarfs arrived just as the weather started to warm up, but will be used next winter. The students are always so happy to receive letters from other schools around Canada.
The days school was in session were crazy! It was a balance between re-establishing school routine and enjoying our final days together. We were quite short staffed at the end of the year, which meant a lot of juggling of teachers/classes. Martin was moved into the little school and taught grade 1-4. I remained in my own class and Angela taught all high school courses. The change in assignments meant that Angela and I were alone in the big school. We work so well together and were able to collaborate in a lot of activities and outings.
Speaking of Angela, I must say, she is my hero and literally carried Colville Lake School to the end of the year! Angela gives 110% to everything she does and has a huge heart for seeing students succeed in life. Working with Angela helped me develop as an educator and community advocate. As many of you know, my best friend passed away shortly before the school year ended. Angela was my biggest support and is the reason I was able to finish so well with my kids. She is an advocate, cheerleader, administrator, role model, and friend. Angela, if you are reading this, YOU ARE MY HERO!
Friday breakfasts continued to be a highlight of the week for many. My students became master smoothie makers and learned many leadership skills as they prepared and served food to the school. The above young lady joined in on our Friday breakfasts and became a dear friend to me. Many classroom visits and chats were had and I will miss her.
Daily trips to the Coop were one of my favourite parts of living in Colville Lake. I would have a following of kids and without fail they would convince me to buy them a treat or snack. My favourite request came from a little boy in grade 3. Pickles. He wanted pickles. How could I say no?
My niece has a shirt that has a taco on it that says, "I don't want to TACO-bout it." I told my students about this shirt and it soon became one of the favourite sayings in our class. So, what better way to end the year than with a taco party! School is over and I don't want to taco-bout it.
Unfortunately, school was closed on the last day of classes, which was when I had planned the taco party for. A few text messages to local friends and I had permission to use the community gym to host my class party. The kids came, played volleyball, cards, and helped cook. I ended up extending the invitation to all community kids and we had a great time. I truly wish I had hosted more meals like this in the gym this year!
The above cabin (with the big black face spray painted on it) is the RCMP housing when they are in town. It is one of the last of its kind in Canada. The cabin has no running water. There are two beds and a small wood fireplace inside. In the winter months they will drive in from Fort Good Hope on the ice highway. In the summer they fly in and use one of the band's trucks to do their rounds.
The above cabin is one of the old fishing lodges. They are located on the path that connects the school to the coop road.
I would like to introduce you to these great sisters! They became very dear friends to me this year. Their dad said he was adopting me into their family, which I suppose makes me their sister also. Georgina, to the left of me, was my classroom support worker this year. She was with me most days from 9am-noon. Georgina is an AMAZING educator. She has connections with the kids that are genuine and real. She gives herself fully to the job and is a big part of the reason many of the kids in my class saw so much growth this year. Natanda, to the right of me, is the mom of one of my students. Natanda and I became quite close this year and I will miss her dearly. She would have me over for meals or coffee often. I believe she is going to do wonderful things in her life and is such a great mother to her kids. I truly hope our paths cross again!
With the ice melt, weekend adventures turned from skidoo to boat. Natanda, Kory, Georgina, and myself went on a midnight boat adventure around the lake. We hoped that we could make it to White Sand beach, but the ice around there had not melted and we were unable to pass through. I also went on truck rides up to the airport looking for Muskox. I was able to see one, but the picture I took did not turn out or give justice to the sheer size of the animal. Majestic and beautiful.
Colville Lake has truly stolen my heart and I look forward to seeing where my relationship with this community takes me in the future. The school year may be over, but I truly feel this is only the beginning of a life long connection to Colville Lake.
Stayed tuned for me updates about Ms. Evans and Colville Lake. This summer three of my students are coming down for a BC trip. They will be attending a summer camp in Kelowna and then adventuring around BC with me on the weekends.
My time in Colville Lake came to an end a few days early. My dear friend and sister, Christine Tulloch, passed away on June 13, 2019. In order to make it home in time for her Celebration of Life service, I changed my flights and arrived back on June 18th. This blog post has been in the making since I sat in Yellowknife airport on my way home. I have written and erased many times. The honest truth is that no amount of words can convey the depth of loss I feel and the true honour it was to have Christine as my best friend for the past 20+ years.
Christine is the friend that I have had the longest. We have walked through all seasons of life together and were very much soul sisters. From our awkward pre-teen fashion trends and candy binges, to navigating the complexities of adulthood, Christine is the person who got me and loved me fully at all times. Christine was funny, passionate, dedicated, caring, and free-spirited. Life without her has left an irreplaceable void in my heart.