The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. It was my birthday, I had a work trip to Norman Wells, district staff were in for their annual visit, and report card season has begun. Amongst the chaos, there have been some wonderful times.
I can truly say that this birthday was one of the best I have every had. I felt so loved by my new community (and by everyone back home too). My roommate, Louie, made me this cake and the whole school gathered at the end of the day to sing and enjoy some cake.
Jenn and I had a pancake breakfast in the morning and our kids buddied up and read to each other. It was such a special time. We built forts under our desks and everyone was fully engaged in their reading.
After work we went for a ride over to a friends house to see his haul of fish. Community members have been making many trip over to Aubry Lake to set nets. Aubry Lake is deeper than Colville Lake and has not frozen over yet. The fish have all migrated there and the nets are always full. One trip over to Aubry is enough to fill the freezer. The fish pictured above will be used as dog food over the winter months.
My students took me on a skidoo ride for my birthday. I am learning who to trust as a driver. They think it is funny to go super fast and watch Ms. Evans scream. When they let me drive they laugh at how slow I go.
Birthdays are often a time of reflection for me. As I look back on the last year I can't help but be so proud of all I have overcome and accomplished.
On the 16th I flew to Norman Wells for Fourth R training. I had never heard of Fourth R before, but am looking forward to implementing it into my health curriculum. My focus this year is on social emotional learning. Fourth R provides a solid guideline on teaching middle school students about healthy relationships.
It is always fun to meet people from different northern communities. During Fourth R I met with teachers who are in similar situations to me and was able to have some valuable collaboration time with them.
Happy Thanksgiving! This weekend has been a wonderful time of relaxation and adventures. The lake is completely frozen over now and we are enjoying watching the kids zoom around it on their four wheelers and skidoos. Next weekend we will be heading out to Aubrey lake on skidoos to go ice fishing.
Yesterday Jenn and I walked across the lake to the Coop to buy some vegetables for our roommate dinner. Jenn really wanted brussle sprouts with dinner, but we were both super doubtful that there would be any in the store. To our surprise they were there! A true thanksgiving miracle.
Our walk to the Coop gave us a small taste of what the coming months are going to look like. The temperature has dropped noticeably this past week and many layers are now required when going out. The snow here is much different than snow in BC. It is so dry. It actually reminds me a lot of sand. When you walk through it each grain shifts by itself.
In the afternoon the whole community gathered for a thanksgiving feast. Jenn, Louie, and I were given the honour of serving the elders and community members. Being at the feast gave me a taste of home. We are known and trusted by the families. The small children look to us much like my nieces and nephew do. It brings my heart so much joy to my heart to share a meal with them.
Colville Lake is rich in tradition and values the role of the Elders. At the feast the Elders say a prayer and are served first.
Louie is the JK and K teacher at Colville Lake School and she is AMAZING! She crafted this beautiful cake for the community. One of the first things that Martin told me when I moved to Colville is to beware of Louie's cakes. They are SO delicious, but they will expand the waist line... haha!
After our community feast we came home and prepped for a roommate thanksgiving dinner. We had all the comforts from home (minus the turkey).
Martin's parents sent up a rotisserie machine and we have been perfecting the art of making chicken. Jenn's mom sent us with multiple whole chickens and we have been saving one for this meal.
Such a delicious meal! We even had stuffing!
There is so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. If you told me last year at Thanksgiving that I would be living in Colville Lake this year, I would have never believed you. Last Thanksgiving I had so many hopes, dreams, and plans for this year, but none of those involved moving to the Arctic. This Thanksgiving I am thankful for the unexpected twist that brought me to Colville Lake. I have faced many struggles living here, but I can truly say that I have never felt more content and at peace in life. It is a beautiful feeling to know that you are exactly where you are supposed to be.
Jennifer and I have both noticed a shift in our thinking and perspective this past week. The season of transition has come to an end and we truly feel we are at home now. We are at peace and loving our new pace of life. Yesterday was a testament to our sense of belonging in Colville Lake.
A few weeks ago our Slavey teacher, Linda, taught both Jenn and I how to sew mitts. This past week a shipment of furs came to the school and Linda gave us both our own rabbit and beaver fur to make mitts. Yesterday, after a pancake breakfast, Jenn and I sat down and got to work on sewing our mitts. There is something so relaxing about hand sewing mittens. Jenn chose to make hers with beaver fur, and I am making mine out of rabbit. They will be so warm in the winter months.
One of our coworkers had mentioned that she had a pile of wood to cut and we decided that we would like to help her with that. However, there was on problem with that plan - Martin is away and the school chainsaw is locked up in his house. So with homemade jam and bannock in hand, Jenn and I ventured over to the Chief's house to see if we could borrow his for the afternoon. He was more than willing to share and seemed to think it was funny that the two caucasian girls wanted to spend their saturday cutting wood.
The most efficient way to heat your house in the Arctic is using a wood stove. Both Jenn and I are becoming masters of fire starting. The wood here is so dry and perfect for burning! Jenn, Louie, and I have decided that we will save money and gather our own wood for the winter. It is a fun adventure and really great exercise!
After an afternoon of wood cutting, Jenn and I came home and made some homemade soup and bannock (so thankful for our big Costco shop before we came). We are getting really good at being creative with the food we have. No recipes are needed. It is just a matter of taking what is the cupboard and hoping for the best. There has only been one fail so far.
When we thought our day was over and were winding down for bed the phone rang. It was, Janat, one of our friends from the community. The community had spontaneously gathered at the gym for volleyball match and they wanted us to come and join in. We both jumped at the opportunity. It was so much fun! All ages were welcome and everyone was given the opportunity to play. My students found it quite funny to see Ms. Evans be so terrible at something. I loved it! Such a good day!