Wednesday, 30 May 2018

HCI students present to teachers at staff school meeting

Yesterday, the six students who went to Pimicikamak Cree Nation, Cross Lake, MB from HCI presented to the teachers about their experiences at Humberside C.I.'s staff meeting.

The students created this on their own, and in their own voice. They made a powerpoint, video and wrote their parts coming together to tell their story. It was truly amazing as you can see:

Monday, 14 May 2018

Pretty Special

There something pretty special about a trip that ends with twelve people who were pretty much strangers, huddling together at Pearson. What a fantastic trip.

Fly away, fly away, fly away home

After making great time on the road (thanks Mr. Dingwall) we filled up at the airport gas station before returned the rental vans. It was super easy returning them which was very nice.
We had stopped in Grand Rapids again for a quick bite and a talk before getting to the airport.

We felt it was important to talk about the trip and how important our stories and messages would be coming back to Toronto. We all had a good talk, and made plans to get together again before the end of school. The friendships that were made, were special ones, and we felt it was important to get together again soon. 
At the airport in Winnipe we found out that Toronto was having a massive wind storm. Our place said it was on time yet, there were planes being diverted and cancelled. In fact we heard an announcement saying no flights would be going to Toronto that night.

Ready for the worst, we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best. The flight attendant warned us that the plane was expected to board and leaving just ten minutes late, but it might turn around in the air if the weather in Toronto didn't improve. Luckily, we made it, though 6 of us lost luggage. We didn't get our bags until Sunday night.

It was quite the trip. One that none of us will forget and we hope to see our friends again in Toronto next year!


Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Driving back to the peg to fly - travel day

In the morning we got up early to load the vans and say see you later to this beautiful community. It was really hard to leave and it's such a great place, full of beautiful people and fantastic landscapes. Elaine came out with Fawn, Maya and Evelyn to say one say hello and give us hugs. It was so great.

 We stopped by the birch tree on the way out as Elaine wanted us all to try the sap. It was cold and delicious. Fuad found a snake and was super brave in picking it up. Such a great trip.

 We made a couple stops along the way home to take some photos and grab lunch. It was great. The nine hour drive flew by as we laughed, sang, and got texts from our new friend Chloe about how sad she was to see us go. At least we came, and it's not good bye it's see you again soon!

Semi Formal at Mikisew!

After the sweat we were extremely late for dinner at Greg and Betty-Lou's place so we swung by the hotel quick to grab Mr. Dingwall and the three students who chose not to participate and headed to the Halcrow's for an amazing feast! We have burgers, more steaks, salad and per-ogees for the vegetarian; Ms. Prinn. It was so good. Local raspberries with cream and fruit and bannock with raisins for desert. As the adults ate at the diner table students could be heard laughing and singing in the living room. The students took no time settling into their home which was nice.

After dinner the kids went outside to play soccer as the adults continued to talk and get to know each other.
Time flew so quickly, and it felt like we were there only a minute before we needed to leave as we were late for the semi-formal dance. They have been really nice and moved it to Thursday instead of Friday so all of our students could dance and meet with the Mikisew students. After a quick change at the 24/7 hotel we were back at Mikisew to dance!
Christian was DJ-ing. So great to see him one more time! And Keston was with us, so it was a great night! Raven took over playing some of her songs. They turned up the lights at one point to give us amazing gifts of art and Mikisew back packs and hand beaded ket chains that said Mikisew School. It was a special lovely night.

Sweat Lodge

After stopping by to pick up the birch sap we were invited to do a sweat. We were all a little nervous and extremely honoured. The women were asked to wear skirts, and everyone was made to feel very welcome.

Paul MacKay provided us with teachings at the IRS and led the sweat. He was really honest and open to sharing the traditional ways with us and we really appreciated learning from him.
Below is a link to information that Paul gave us to share and better understand.

I don't want to share too much as this is a scared ceremony that really needs to be experienced. The lodge is meant to be like going into mother earths womb with you feel like you have once again returned to the safety of the womb from that which you came from. It was a very unique experience.

All of us left the sweat thinking that maybe an hour had passed, but it was over 3 hours later. Pretty nuts. That said we were quite late for dinner at Greg and Betty-Lou Halcrow's place.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Whisky Jack and Tapping the Birch

This is our last full day. We are heading to the school early for a big breakfast. Once a month the staff pitch in and make breakfast for all the students. Since we are leaving early tomorrow they are making a big breakfast Thursday so we can enjoy it too!

 After breakfast we made a quick stop at Elaines to get buckets to tap birch sap with. Then we went to find some birch trees in the forest. It was so beautiful. Quiet, lush and the air was so fresh in the bush.

 Tapping the sap. We tapped two different birch trees. The paper birch gave us way more sap.
 The tap is simply birch bark rolled up. Elaine taught us how to thank the Creator before tapping the sap. It was wonderful. Raven helped with the offerings.
The sap was quick to drip, as the weather was really warming up as the week went on. Considering our first night it snowed, we were doing pretty well for weather.

After breakfast we journeyed to Whisky Jack Treatment Centre. The centre runs programs to help children and youth break their additions. It is a 16 week program. Near the end of the program they will invite parents into the centre to participate as well. It is a very important program, as so many of these children need the help early on to break their additions. It has been operating for over 20 years and takes kids from as far away as Ontario. There is a waiting list for the program. One of the first questions asked by our students was "Why is it called Whisky Jack when it's a treatment centre?"
Well it is located on Whisky Jack point, which is known for their abundance of Whisky Jack birds.

 It's so muddy in Spring and Fall in Cross Lake that you need to take your shoes off when you enter a building. Even the school has shoe racks for the students to place their shoes on when they come in. It's kind of nice, makes you feel like you are coming into a place you can feel comfortable in.

 We were given a ton for great swag including these awesome bags, and a calendar, a thumb drive, mugs and pens. So very generous! Thank you!

 Our tour guide, he played this great ice breaker game with us in the gym where we had to throw the ball to the same person without speaking, and then he kept adding balls to the circle. It was really fun, and kind of chaotic.
 After the tour we went back to pick up of birch sap as it was requested for the afternoon activities.

 What a fantastic tree. Thanks for sharing your sap. We appreciated it!

Cook out and Coffee House @Mikisew

We have a lovely cook out on the open fire. Elaine made steaks and Fawn made some yummy nachos and salad as a side. The students had fun standing by the fire and checking out the melting ice.
 This is Elaine's backyard. Such a lovely place. It's gorgeous and so peaceful.

 We cooked steaks for the kids outside on the fire while Fawn was making a feast with Evelyn. We were truly spoiled on this trip!

 Elaine was sporting her Downsview student council shirt for the evening!

 The food was so good. We are all going to miss eating so well when we get back home.

 Raven was making friends all over the place!
 We went back to Mikisew after dinner for music night. We were so honoured to hear such talent. It was truly amazing! Sadie could sing so well. We could not stop talking about how talented everyone is!
 Raven spoke about the steel pan and had a student come up to try it out. We will need to send them a proper stand when we are back in town.
 The atrium of the school is the perfect place to host the coffee house music nights. It's so gorgeous.

 After the show students helped to clean up, and Sabrina and Abby presented $200 to the music program from the bake sales we did at Humberside to help them get a new piano! We hope to do more when we get back so they can get a really nice model for their class.
 That night we drove back over the Elaine's to watch the sun set, and listen to the gulls. It was so lovely. Seeing all the stars, and hearing all those birds. Lovely.