Skiing with Sharon Firth

Today Sharon Firth came cross country skiing with our class. She talked a lot about goal setting and the obstacles that her and her twin sister had to overcome to become world class Olympic medalist First Nations professional athletes: alcoholism in her family of 16, her parents doubts that she would succeed. 
I skied behind the rest of the group with the 6 year old that is approximately the same skill level as me. It was -30 and blizzard-y so I wore my entire goose- down snow suit, neck and face warmer, toque, gloves and fur hood. It was fabulous, I didn't see Sharon once the whole time because we were skiing at a 6 year olds pace with a few teary wipe outs, but I felt like I was truly having a truly Northern experience. 
I talked to Sharon for a while after, she is retired and now travels around to rural schools leading recreation programs and telling her story. She believes everyone should have a dream and that it is ok to grow and change your dream, just as long as you dream again. Her next dream is to attend university. 

She told me she was jealous of my goose down suit so I let her try it on. 


Christmas Tree Harvesting!

A beautiful clear day of -30 degrees . 
Notice the five year old is wearing magic gloves! I don't know how these bush children do it! We look pretty cheery here but I was dizzy and close to tears when we finally got back to the school after the half hour hike dragging our trees back through the 4 meter deep snow.


The Sub Arctic

I had dinner twice this weekend at a funny little Chinese restaurant in Fort Simpson. The community cannot support any kind of dining selection so going out means supporting the only asian immigrants to the community by eating at their pizza/ Chinese in their fully ethnicized dining room. The hotel has a diner but the hours are limited so people often try to get out of work early to get there before the kitchen closes at 5:00. It was fun I met one of the other volunteers, she is from Mexico, and the district's accountant (the one that has messed up all of my travel plans here, finances and clothing) who turned out to be a lovely jolly man. The famous Christmas craft sale (the reason we had come into town for the weekend) that was supposed to be all native leather arts and beading was dominated by stands with pork buns, won ton skewers and sushi. It seems like this one Chinese family is reaping the rewards of their cultural difference. They certainly didn't seem surprised to see me there the second night. 

It snowed all weekend and the wind chill was bone chilling. We bought some short bread and barbie candy canes and did some light tours, but were pretty disappointed with the displays. Electricity is hugely expensive in Fort Simpson so this could be why. There were leftover Christmas desserts from the board office's Christmas party at our residence so i ate pie and cake all weekend and watched the snow fall down outside through the great big windows that line  the walls of the living room, merry christmas to me.


Ice Bridge

The ice bridge opened this past thursday;  the brave man that walks across first every year had made it back safely so it seemed like a good opportunity to escape from isolation for a little while at least. We drove for about an hour before we reached the 1km stretch of ice. The bridge is not elevated, you drive down to the ferry terminal out on to the ice surrounded by 10 foot ice ridges and huge mounds of graying snow. It was a very turbulent ride, i took off my seatbelt so as not to let myself be lost if the ice broke and water pulled us under. (which happens every year). There were students from Fort Simpson walking across, they park their cars on both sides and simply drive into town after. 
Fort Simpson was pretty sleepy on saturday morning. it was pay week so everyone everywhere goes somewhere else to spend their money. The vegetable selection was disappointing, everything was within days of expiring. By the time the food gets to the Northern store in Fort Simpson from Edmonton it is mostly rotten anyways. We spend $70 each on produce! I feel like I am in a race against the clock with my food here, as much as I'd like to save and salvage nature demands me to splurge. We filled two garbage bags with food waste on sunday and i am constantly biting into sandwiches and fruit to taste bitterness and decay. Not nice when a bag of apples is $10.(I feel like Anne Frank haha).


Christmas Festivities

This week's excitement in pictures....

Gingerbread cookie resemblance contest!

WE made too many so I ate all the nudies. The 5 year old esmeralda was so funny when she was decorating she was licking all the knives them decorating the cookies and eating them right after so there weren't any for judging.

Karaoke Night

Hayley hosts Jean Marie's First Karaoke Night....

                                 It was a success! I am working on gathering a crowd for it. This is the first time in two weeks we actually got people organized enough to come. Everyone gets their pay checks every two weeks and goes out of town for reasons good and bad so we had to change the day. All the equipment was pretty well trashed when I got there because the rec leader was fired this past week and hadn't bothered to put any of the microphones or music away.I  overcame my anger and brought my own stuff and the show went on.... The kids sang a lot of johnny cash and miley cyrus, an interesting evening cocktail of music.

The 12 days of Christmas North

I have been spending long grueling hours painting giant boxes to look like presents for the infamous Louie Norwegian Christmas concert. Every time I set the kids up to paint they mix the colours and paint tribal masks on their faces so I have given up and now have to make 4 more giant boxes and matching bows. It was my brilliant idea to make it all out of recyclable materials so I am ripping out magazine pages and scrounging for cans and egg cartons to decorate with. Not so easy because all the kids, along with the janitor and others who are scrounging for petty cash to support drug habits, hoard these for the spring when the recycling people come and pay them $5 a bag for all the cans they have collected over the year. 
Anyways I am sure it will be glorious when they all mutter the song and hold up these obsenely large packages I have created, opening them to show their drawings inside for each day. Each kid is also performing a Christmas carol solo which I have trusted them to practice outside of school, so it should all be very interesting. Apparently last year the concert was 2 hours of Christmas solos so i didn't want to mess with the usual formula and introduce something bearable. 
Here is a link to my song.... 12 days of christmas north