Saturday, December 3, 2011


Yes Laura, I know its been a while since I've blogged last... so, with you in mind...

Only 10 teaching days until I (fingers crossed!) fly home for Christmas. I'm excited for the next few weeks in school - there's going to be a lot to keep me busy with my kids, including rehersing for their Christmas concert debut, helping cook many feasts, going skating, making and painting murals... and then the long flight home, first to Ottawa to visit with the Robertsons, and then to London to see the my fam for several days. One of my best friends is getting married on New Year's Eve, so there is much to be looking forward to this month!

An October update with a few pictures.  My kids looked super cute in their costumes, and we won a pizza party for best door decoration!

No, this isn't a costume (well, some of it used to be....)  This is Scott in all his house husband glory, chopping wood to keep me warm.

This is one of my kids in my quickly made costume (the painting "The Scream").  Most people thought I was a postage stamp.  Oh well, the kids had fun with it.

November was a good month as well.  Our friends from Coleville Lake (a community north of here) braved the trails and freezing temperatures and skidooed to see us over the Remembrance Day long weekend.  The winter road was not completed at the time, so the trail was rough and it took them nearly 6 hours to get here.  They brought along several huge frozen white fish, ground caribou meat, caribou steaks and caribou ribs.  I’d never eaten caribou, and the ribs were so long and huge they barely fit in the oven.  They were amazing.  So are my friends... such a great visit, we are looking forward to hopefully getting up to Coleville sometime in the new year to visit them.

 Matt showed us how to gut-and-cut and fillet a fish. Tonight I successfully filleted one of the huge suckers for a dinner of fish and chips. I’m still getting used to the slimy things, and the smell is terrible – but it is getting easier to cook raw meat the more I practice.

I also celebrated my birthday this month. Scott surprized me with cake, nachos (my favorite!) and the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy DVDs (because I burned through those books quickly). Our good friend Dave came over to help us celebrate. Turning 27 is a tough one to swallow, but I’m in a good place with a great guy and a job I’m grateful for.

Scott's typical hang out.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dance for Jill

My little sister Jill has been sick for the past year - she's been diagnosed with Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia, also known as Oscar Weber Rendue.  The disease has been found on my mother's side of the family - and while I am lucky enough to so far be clear of any signs or symptoms - this disease has highly impacted my immediate and extended family.  The disease can affect a number of organs, including the heart, lungs and brain.  Jill's liver has been affected however, and she is now awaiting a liver transplant.

Due to her illness, Jill has been in and out of hospitals in Toronto and London for the past year, and her condition has made it impossible for her to work. Meanwhile, the drug that has helped her is not covered by Ontario's health care plan.  It has typically been used to treat cancer patients, and so it is considered "experimental" to be used to treat HHT.  Jill and our family have had to cover much of her medical costs.

On November 19th, there is a benefit being held for Jill.  Proceeds from the dance will assist Jill with medical costs and loss of income. 

WHAT: "Dance for Jill"

WHERE: 2451 Hamilton Rd. - Masonic Hall in Nilestown.

WHEN: Nov. 19, 2011

TIME: 8pm - 1am

TICKETS: $15 @ the door, they can also be purchased ahead of time.

If you are unable to attend (like me) and would still like to help, please call or send me an email. 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all those who are helping organize and run this wonderful event.



Saturday, October 29, 2011


Hello all,

Not too much is new in Fort Good Hope, but I thought I'd take some time to put up a few pictures.

Scott and I have been cross country skiing a bit: there is a decent trail not two minutes from our house that leads down the beach (a.k.a. "Rabbit Skin River"). Halloween is just a few days away, and I've tried to incorporate the season into everything we do, especially art!


Making and baking pumpkin seeds in grade one :)

Paper mache masks in afterschool Art club
Our door decoration entry: Seated Scarecrows! We are definalty contenders!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Snow is Here to Stay

Each passing day we lose approximately 15 minutes of sunlight.  I walk to school at 7:45am in the dark, the sun rises around 9:30 and by that time I'm too involved with my little ones to notice.  I'm enjoying the snow, going for walks often, as soon it will be too cold - I'll be walking fast and the layers that will wrap my face in warmth will also probably limit my visability!  It's beautiful here. 

My classroom is functioning well.  Mornings are going smoothly - students know the routines now, we are beginning to learn various strategies for decoding words.  Their favorite things are Raffi songs - the best CD I've ever bought - The Lady with the Alligator Purse, Robert Munsch, and our daily dance to wordwall words.  Somedays I can't believe I get paid to sing and dance with cute kids.... Students go home for lunch for an hour and they come back unfocused, so I'm still trying to keep them as active as possible, with alot of independant activity-based lessons and centers.  Its a work in progress.  I'm lucky to have a great group.  I've also applied and was approved for a grant to run cross country ski events starting in November, I'm looking forward to getting active out of doors afterschool.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Northern Lights and a Sweet Sunrise

Hello all, 
Its a sunny day here in Fort Good Hope.  Scott and I have a fire going, there is bread in the oven, and I'm planning my week, half hour my half hour... it must be Sunday.  Last night we caught a glimpse of the awesome northern lights.  I've yet to master capturing this spectacle on film, but its since become my goal to get one great picture before I leave.  In the meantime, these pcitures do no justice to the wonders we saw last night. 


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

On the Land

Here are a few more pictures of our trip "on the land." As previously stated, Scott, the staff and I were invited by the community to a strip of land 40 minutes north on the Mackenzie River before school started. It was chilly when we arrived, but we quickly (and pretty efficiently, I might add) leveled out the rocky shore to make a space for our pop tents and a canvas tent. We hacked through weeds and also collected pine branches to form a warmer, more cozy layer between the hard ground and our tents. We built a fire and huddled around it for the majority of the 4 days, keeping warm and cooking meals. We helped schuck some fish, ate some fried fish eggs and collected wood - there's tons of drift wood laying around. It was a pretty nice experience, as we met alot of community members and a few of my students.

Cutest boy ever - wanted to help with everything, including carrying logs 10 times his weight back to camp.

Foggy morning on the Mackenzie.

I'll blog again, soon. Miss you all.

In Loving Memory

Some of you may know that my family's dog Ozzy had to be put down a week ago. Ozzy was 9 years old, we got him a few years before I headed off to university.  He was suffering from cancer. He was fine when I left in August for the north, however shortly afterward numerous large tumors began to grow, his energy levels dropped and my dad was left to make a heart breaking decision. I've been thinking about him every day since... its tough knowing I'll never see him again. Ozzy really was the greatest dog.  He never whined or complained, he smiled often, he was a great friend to Frankie and Beans - Jill and Zach's pugs.  He loved to swim and dive for rocks, he loved to chew sticks and go on late evening walks on the golf course.  He'd dive head first into snow banks, he'd roll in every mud puddle.  He'd join my mom's backyard yoga group and do downward dogs with the rest of the yogis.   He'd sit beside dad each morning in the El Camino and wait patiently for dad to finish his coffee... or get his daily dogbit.  Miss you buddy.

Update: September

Hello All,

Thought I'd do an update as its been a while.  Things in Fort Good Hope have been going pretty good.  I feel as though I have my class "in order": it is the fourth week of school, students are reading daily, listening to me and eachother (for the most part), and various routines and procedures are running smooth. I've been doing an art club after school on Tuesdays and already have several regulars. I'm excited to plan some larger projects with the kids as the year progresses... perhaps even a mural or two. Scott has been getting work each week so far at the school as a supply teacher, mostly in the high school end.  He's also in line for a job at the band office but we don't know when that job will be beginning. With help from the vice principal he's also cut and stocked a far amount of wood for us which we hope should last into November when the winter road opens and we can lug some to our place using a skidoo.  I've never had a woodstove before - it is absolutely wonderful to have a fire crackeling in the background, not to mention the heat!  It fills a room like no furnace ever could.  The sun is becoming more scarce at a quick rate (we loose about 20 minutes of sun every 3 days), the leaves are off the trees, we had some snow over the weekend! 

I thought I'd share some pictures of the beautiful historic church that is here.  It sits on the west end of town overlooking the Mackenzie, in the "old end" of what residents call the field (also pictured below).  Its pretty cute from the outside - built and carved by hand - but it is the inside that is absolutely stunning.  My pictures cannot do it justice.  Apparently the Catholic priest who painted the place went on to the land and collected berries to create the paint he used for the borders and some of the murals that cover the walls and ceilings.  To this day they have not been retouched - they remain extremely vibrant. 

The sister gives Scott and I a tour.

"The feild"

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Meet my Grade Ones!

They are all so cute! I had a hard time not putting up all of their pictures.

I've successfully made bread! Two Molasses and Oatmeal Loaves.

On my walk to school this morning. Beautiful.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

First day of School!

... it went pretty well!
Due to last years lack of structure on the first day, I went overboard planning today, jam packing it full of "fun ways to review, review, review, model model model the rules and procedures that are going to define our classroom management this year.
Kids are learning: how to sit at the carpet, how to listen to me and to one another, how to enter the room, how to ask and answer questions.. most importantly I hope that through persistance and extensive modeling with explicit instruction these kids will be very independant, so I'll have a few less hanging off my sleeve.
They are super cute! Pictures of the class to come in the following days!
Scott and I just went for a walk down the path that starts at the end of our street (we live at the very edge of town). Its turned to fall here very quickly - in the past week the leaves have turned, and we expect to start losing them in the next few days. The days are still warm and are forcasted to remain hovering around 20 degrees for the next week or so, however the nights are already getting noticably longer, and with that comes the cold. We've begun collecting firewood ourselves with the help of a staff member with a truck to cut down on our heating bills. We have a small wood stove in our main living area that should do the trick.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Lots to Blog About, So Little Time

Hello all,

Its been a busy few weeks since Scott and I got to Fort Good Hope safe and sound since the Annual Teacher's Conference in Norman Wells.

In short:

Our move: all our stuff arrived and was waiting for us not far from our place. A beautiful nice woman we just met even offered her truck to us to help us move it all in. Others have not been so lucky... one of the teacher's stuff was lost, but its recently been found - in the warehouse in Hamilton, ON... it hasen't even yet left yet...

The house: Is great! Its so large for just Scott and myself. Its a three bedroom place - we are using one of the spares as a "guest room" (anyone want to visit?) and the other as our pantry. We initially had some problems getting water, but now it is delivered and pumped into the tank in the crawlspace below our house 3 times a week. Thanks to Scott, we also have phone and internet, and are working on getting a large supply of wood for our small wood stove to cut down our gas bill. I don't know what I'd do without that guy...

The School: Chief T'Selehye is absolutely beautiful. It's new as of last November and its still shining. Its fully stocked with every resource I could ever need and more - a big change from last year. I've spend a week shifting through stuff, thrying to remember where it all is. There a large sunny gym with a rock climbing wall, a library with a little "cozy bunk" for students to read (although their library is still on the small side) and a new computer lab. My classroom is one of the last down the hall in the elementary wing. It has a large window that looks onto the playground and towards the Mackenzie River. School starts Tuesday, I think I have everything pretty much laid out how it might work, but I'm sure as the monsters arrive Ill be doing some shuffling. I've got 14, maybe 15 in my class this year - a great number!

The Land: We went on a 4 day camping trip along the Mackenzie River. The staff was invited to attend this annual camp that a large majority of the FGH community sets up. Its was a 45 minutes boat ride north along the beautiful, large Mackenzie to get to the "airport strip", a long, rocky strip of shore. We had to level out and shovel off our tent sites, and we helped chop up wood from the large driftwood logs that are all over the beach. We ate food from the campfire, played alot of card games, watched some drumming and traditional Dene hand games, and also got a go a gutting fish! It was pretty chilly, but pretty fun.

The bear: I saw a black bear yesterday at the dump! He looked pretty small (we estimated about 2 years old) and was about 20 yards away (don't worry mom, we were in a truck at the time). He was looking for food on some rusted old Ford trucks... I wish I'd had my camera!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Norman Wells

Scott and I are in Norman Wells, NWT for the week. It is gorgous here, snuggled in a valley between two ranges. Its remarkably clean, the weather has been warm but breezy, and beautifully sunny. From the Mackenzie Mountain Hotel where we are staying we can enjoy the view of the beautiful Mackenzie River beyond that is the Mackenzie Mountain Range. There is lots of trees, mostly evergreens and brich. So far the sun has yet to beat me to bed - while it sets between 10 and 11, it is still light out around 12:30 at night... its so easy to loose track of time. We've been hanging out with Matt and Marie tonnes, its been really great to see them.

We are here for the Sahtu Divisional Conference - 3 days of professional development workshops that have for the most part been really great. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming... so far its been a really positive experience. On Thursday we fly up to Fort Good Hope, I'm looking forward to settling, checking out the school and our new community.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

New Adventures Begin...

Yes Laura and Jess, I BLOG AGAIN!

As some of you might know (while some of you might not) myself AND Scott are headed up to the Northwest Territories (RIGHT NOW!) as I start a new teaching position at Chief T'selehye School, found in Fort Good Hope. As I type, Scott and I are (unexpectedly) in a hotel in Edmonton. Tomorrow we will be catching an early flight to Yellowknife, and then onto Norman Wells for a 3 day conference before the school year begins.

I applied to this same school board last year, however at the time they were looking for "teaching couples," and since I applied solo (Scott was finishing his last year of his undergrad) I was unelegable for a position. This year I got a great amount of help from a great friend of mine from university, Marie, and her fiancee Matt, who are and continue to teach in Coleville Lake, NWT, in the same district. Marie mentioned my name many times to her supervisors and I was granted an interview. A few days later I had a position teaching grade one. Scott is now done his undergrad and taking a year off from his studies to do some supply teaching at Chief T'selehye, and whatever other jobs in Fort Good Hope that may come his way.

Scott and I spent much of our summer prepping for this move. As part of my contract, the school board helps by paying to send up our stuff. Scott and myself are light packers and the house we are moving into is already furnished, so we used the vast majority of our pound allowance to send up as much food as possible for the year. We racked up a hefty bill at Costco and The Bulk Barn, but it will save us A LOT of money in the long run - all of the food in the north has to be flown up and thus the cost of living is extremely pricey, especially "fresh" produce. Matt and Marie helped us a lot by giving us an idea of how much food we would need for 10 months. Also on the shopping list was super warm clothing (I think I got off pretty easy in Kash!) - lots of heavy duty wool socks, long johns, sweaters and army issue hats and gloves. And of course, I have to spoil my grade ones with dollar store buys.

Like I said, we are currently in Edmonton, about to head down to the hotel bar for the last few beers we will have until Christmas. Our day today has been long. Our flight left from Toronto at 9am (which meant leaving London at 5am - thank you mom and dad!)... or should I say it was supposed to leave at 9, however there was a little burnt out light on a wing which delayed take off for 45 minutes. Its times like this when I think about how one little thing can lead to such a long string of events that throws so many other things off course.... We were told in the air we would be landing in Calgary at 11:45am... the exact time our connecting flight to Yellowknife was supposed to depart. When our plane landed at 11:35 in Calgary we literally ran to our gate - and we would have made it - but Air Canada had sold our seats, thinking that our flight was not going to get in on time. As such, we were booked onto a flight to Edmonton and we now leave for Yellowknife early tomorrow morning. I wasn't too impressed, even less so when we got off in Edmonton and our bags hadn't followed us as promised. I was excited to see Yellowknife, our "gateway to the north," but calmed down after Air Canada treated us to a dinner, a hotel stay, transportation to and from the hotel and breakfast tomorrow morning. And our bags did make it here eventually, too.

I just reread my blog entry from this time last year when I was moving to Kashechewan, about to enter my first year of teaching. While it is always sad to say goodbye to the people I love spread between London and Peterboroough, I feel so much more relaxed about this decision, so much more prepared and excited! In large part this is due to having Scott with me, I'm so excited to live together. Marie and Matt have been great resources and have told us alot about what to expect, and we are excited to beable to see them on a somewhat regular basis! The school has also been extremely accomodating and generous. My grade 3 class from last year, godblessem, pretty much prepared me for anything, too. It just feels like the "right" move for us right now, and that makes me pretty happy.

Will post pictures soon!


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Break from school and Albany River Break-up

I just got back into Kashechewan yesterday after 3 weeks of being "home" in Southern Ontario. As some of you may already be aware my sister has been sick since late November, and things got worse at the beginning of April, so I decided to come south before the Goose Break began to be with my family in Toronto in the hospital where my sister was being treated. She's slowly on the mend so I felt good enough to come back in time for school to start up again, although my thoughts and prayers are with her and my family always.

As always leaving and coming back to Kash was an adventure in itself - the weather and somewhat unreliable communication of the small airlines led to me almost not leaving Kash the first week of April. Timmins got hit hard by a snow storm the day I was scheduled to leave, and my flight from Kash to Timmins was inevitably delayed, meaning that I would miss my connecting overnight bus to Toronto. So I called upon a friend up here with some good connections, and he got me on a small cargo plane (carrying "pop-chip" into Kash) leaving the same day to Moosonee. From there I took a train into Cochrane, stayed in a small motel overnight, and then traveled 12 hours on the train from Cochrane to Toronto the following day. I don't usually think about how far away from friends and family until I'm traveling and it takes more than a day...

My break was spent mostly in Toronto at St. Micheal's Hospital with my family, although I did manage small visits to Peterborough and London. Coming back was also stressful. Scott and I planned to take the overnight bus from Toronto to Timmins on Sunday night – due to a oversight Scott was scheduled to get into Timmins 5 minutes after his flight to Kash left the tarmac. After frantically attempting to contact the airline to try to get them to delay the flight slightly, or trying to get Scott on another flight (but his ticket was non-refundable or non-transferable) we ended up taking the overnight bus but got off a stop early and took a cab straight to the airport. Scott JUST made his flight. Happily, he is here now in Kash with me for my remaining two months. He will be working with NAPS (the police) and also volunteering at the school while completing a .5 university credit course. He says, "hi" to readers :)

Kashechewan has undergone some large changes while we were away – most noticeably is that almost all of the snow has melted, leaving in its wake (literally) A LOT of mud, A LOT of water, and A LOT of garbage. I look forward to helping organize a town clean up with the school. Also of note is the "break-up" of the Albany River. Scott and I and some friends took a drive past the airport to see the river breaking up – ice chunks piled high upon ice chunks as the river quickly shifts. A flood warning is in effect and so school was cancelled today, and until further notice. If we have to evacuate it needs to happen quickly, and therefore school authorities can't risk having 400 kids away from their families. It's pretty neat to see, and hear – overnight you can hear low rumblings of the ice sliding against itself, louder noises of it cracking, too.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Northern Lights

About a week or so ago I was able to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights with a few teacher friends. While these photos are extremely fuzzy, the lights were very clear, boldly swaying in the sky. Shortly after taking these pictures a bunch of us jumped into the bed of a pickup truck to escape any light pollution coming from nearby streetlights. As we drove towards the outskirts of town the lights began swirling, like a large slow moving green tornado. Unfortunately, being in a moving vehicle I wasn't able to take any photos. Beyond the dike the lights began to fade fast - and it was too dark for my camera's sensor. Hopefully next time I'll be more prepared with a tri-pod and something warm for my hands so I'm not trembling so much. Hopefully there will be a next time - the northern lights are absolutely breathtaking.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Professional Development (aka Ice Fishing)

This past Friday St. Andrew's took a P.D. Day. Down south, P.D. Days means workshops for staff on assessment, evaluation, management, literacy, numeracy... we got to go ice fishing instead! Teachers jumped on a bus around 9:30 and took a ride 20 minutes or so north of Kash, heading towards Apawatiskat on the winter road. Our bus stopped at a small fiver crossing and we all piled out. I wish I could say we had a grand adventure – but it was more or less a very quiet day on the river. Everyone drilled a hole in the ice (at least 4 to 6 feet thick), tied a hook and some bacon to a stick and set about trying to catch some pike. I was a little cold without something to sit on, but I surprised myself by really enjoying fishing, for the most part the peace and quiet! Moose stir fry, bannock and boiled dumplings were served for lunch. A traditional tea made from water, lard, flour, black tea and sugar was also served. It's pretty sweet and supposedly very filling… however I'm striving for a beach body (Cuba in 3 weeks!) so I didn't indulge too much, only had a few sips! The snow around the river was extremely deep, up to our waists in some spots. I enjoyed snowshoeing along a few trails and through some brush. Like I've mentioned before, I've come to really love winter since being up here – perhaps that's because I don't need to drive here… but cross country skiing and snow shoeing have really been highlights for me.

It's been extremely icey here, so much so that school was cancelled Wednesday afternoon. Boys can strap on their skates and skate down the streets with a puck and hockey sticks. This upcoming week is the Winter Carnival – which means spending only mornings in our classrooms, and the afternoons outdoors, playing snow games with the kids. The week following I have my second evaluation, and come April 8th we fly out for two glorious weeks down south. Scott, Jill, Zach and I have already paid for a trip in Cayo CoaCoa, Cuba, and obviously I can't wait for that!