From Community to Family – Teaching in Northern Canada

Fresh out of university, and deep into debt, I made my way north to teach high school English in Norway House, Manitoba. With temperatures in the -40s and -50s, and isolation from family, cities, and most forms of entertainment, I had to be creative with my time and the relationships built with other community members. It was this unique environment that changed community members to friends within a few short weeks and friends to family within the first year. The family that I created while I was there has taught me to live life to the fullest, love and support the people that love and support you, and make the most out of each journey that comes your way.  I look back on my experiences in Norway House, Manitoba with fond memories of icy cold days, holiday celebrations, long drives, learning new things, sharing, dancing, and creating a bond that is unbreakable. Continue reading

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3 First (Worst) Teaching Days – #2 – Norway House, Manitoba – Anyone Up for a Hospital Visit?

3 First (Worst) Teaching Days

As a teacher for over 8 years and in various schools around the country, my journey was filled with happiness, laughter, fear, nervousness and countless other emotions, often at the same time. Students have a unique way of touching your heart, driving you completely insane, and making you proud all at once. The first day of the school year can often set the tone for the entire year. It can be a stressful day naturally, but when you add a first day curse things can get out of hand. I’ve experienced the craziest first days during my career; including no heat over night in -50 degrees, going to the hospital with a concussion, and not making it to work because of a freak storm disaster. They are powerful enough to make you question entering the teaching profession altogether. Follow me on my first days of disaster and teaching.

#2 – Norway House, Manitoba – Anyone Up for a Hospital Visit?
I arrived in Norway House, Manitoba just early enough to catch the local flu bug that was going around. The day before school started, I was sick and miserable with few options. It was the the first day of school so I wasn’t exactly going to call in sick. I woke up that morning with watery eyes, a churning stomach, and a pounding head. The thought of a first day curse crossed my mind after my experience in Shefferville, Quebec but I quickly diminished it and went about planning my day. My first strategy was to eat as little as possible before heading to work. I had been throwing up everything that went into my stomach and I wasn’t prepared to vomit on one of my students. My second goal was to dress in warm clothing since I suffered from chills for two days. I assumed it would keep my body temperature at an even rate for the day and I could take off the top layer if I was too hot. Finally, I was going to arrive early, although this wasn’t exactly because of being sick since my idea of being on time is an hour early anyway, to settle in to my classroom and prepare for the day. I wanted to create as little interruption as possible so I made this plan of action, but it turned out to be a long list of disastrous choices.

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3 First (Worst) Teaching Days – #3 – Shefferville – A New Teacher in an Uncharted Tundra

3 First (Worst) Teaching Days

As a teacher for over 8 years and in various schools around the country, my journey was filled with happiness, laughter, fear, nervousness and countless other emotions, often at the same time. Students have a unique way of touching your heart, driving you completely insane, and making you proud all at once. The first day of the school year can often set the tone for the entire year. It can be a stressful day naturally, but when you add a first day curse things can get out of hand. I’ve experienced the craziest first days during my career; including no heat over night in -50 degrees, going to the hospital with a concussion, and not making it to work because of a freak storm disaster. They are powerful enough to make you question entering the teaching profession altogether. Follow me on my first days of disaster and teaching.

#3 – Shefferville – Initial First Day Directly Out of University

While I was still finishing my education degree, I was offered a position at Jimmy Sandy School in Schefferville, Quebec and I owed thousands of dollars in student loans. I thought a position in the north would provide the financial support that I desperately needed and the teaching experience that I desperately desired.

The school board faxed my flight itinerary and I read it carefully. I was flying from Sydney to Halifax, Halifax to Quebec City, Quebec City to Montreal, Montreal to Seven Islands, and Seven Islands to Schefferville. It sounded like a lot of flights to travel two provinces, but I thought it would be an adventure.  Continue reading