If you had told me one year ago that I would be moving to a small reservation in the remote terrain of northern Quebec to teach 6th grade in the Cree community, I definitely would have given you an ‘you’re joking right?’ look and walked away swiftly. But, as is often the case, God’s plans are very different from my own and well, here I am, all moved in and ready to meet my new class of Cree pre-teens tomorrow morning.
I want to keep my blog updated to give you a first timer’s perspective of life up north. Here are a few things that you might find interesting about the adventure so far.
The journey here:
In order to get to Mistissini (which means Big Rock in Cree… possibly a foreshadowing of my future engagement ring? Hehe.) I had to travel first from Toronto to Montreal and then from Montreal to Chibougamau (the city with the nearest airport.) From there, I had to get a taxi for the hour and twenty minute drive to my new community.
Mistissini is technically a reservation and a dry community, which means they don’t sell alcohol anywhere on the reserve. The community size is around 5000, a huge change from the hustle and bustle of life in Toronto and Seoul. The community includes a grocery store, a community center, a post office, three schools (pre-school, elementary and high), four small churches, a health clinic, a hair salon and two gas stations. They even have a Timmy’s and a Subway!
I have my own one bedroom apartment that is small but starting to feel cozier every day. I am in a fourplex so I have three neighbours who all seem quite friendly. The apartment is only a ten minute walk from the school, which is great since I don’t have a car. We even have a fenced off backyard with a shed and a deck for enjoying those warm-ish summer nights.
Mistissini is located on Quebec’s biggest lake named Mistassini, which makes for many a beautiful and tranquil view. People here live in small houses and trailers, and the ‘town’ isn’t very spread out so you can walk from one end to the next without much difficulty. There are many trees and the air is beautifully fresh. The average winter temperatures drop to -25 degrees C with several feet of snow from December – March!
There are two main schools in Mistissini, Voyageur Memorial Elementary School and Voyageur Memorial High School. There are two streams in the Elementary School, so students can choose to pursue their education in French or English. There is also a pre-school that is taught in Cree. All students take classes to learn the Cree language and Cree culture which is very important to the community as it should be. High school students even learn how to hunt and prepare animals such as moose for food!
The Cree Nation:
The Cree are the largest First Nations group in Canada. Most Cree people live in the plains and the subarctic regions of the provinces spanning from Alberta to Quebec. Cree is also the name of the spoken language which belongs to the Algonquin language family. Maintaining their language and their cultural traditions is very important to the Cree people and many time-honoured ceremonies and rituals are still practiced today.
Please pray that:
- My transition to living here would go smoothly
- I would be able to connect well with my students
- I would be able to make friends with others in the community
- I would find a church family to be part of
- This unfamiliar place would begin to feel like home
Thank you friends, I really appreciate your prayers and support! If you want to write to me, I’d love to get your letters! My address is:
368 Mistissini Blvd, Apt. B, Mistissini, QB, G0W 1C0.