Where do I even begin?!?! September has been a bit crazy. My girlfriend came to visit for a week and a half at the beginning of the month. However, to keep costs low, she took the train to Senneterre, QC, and I picked her up there. Now . . .Senneterre is about a 10 hour drive from Chisasibi! On the way back fro picking her up, we saw a big beautiful moose! It was awesome! It was great having her here and showing her around. Now when I talk about a spot I like to go to by the bay or by the river, or KM20 (the beach, but some students at the school informed me that it was uncool to call it the beach), she knows what I’m talking about! And of course, it was nice to spend time with her! Alas, eventually I had to drive her back. And since we were in the area, my son and I wound up staying in Val d’Or and doing some shopping since he was running out of pants that fit and I needed winter tires.
Coming back to Chisasibi was a bit difficult. I felt even lonelier after the visit. But I knew it was pass so I grinned and bore it. Sort of. I did spend a good 3-4 days feeling pretty blue and even questionning my intention to stay the whole year. But I knew that even that would pass.
And it has! Boy has it! The past few days have been amazing. I finally got some substitution work at the high school (because I couldn’t hack elementary school) and it’s been SO incredibly enjoyable to get to know students and teachers there. During my previous visits, some of my encounters with fellow non-Natives left me with a sour taste in my mouth. While I did meet a few non-Natives who enjoyed being in the community and who were interested in local culture and history, I met a few who were “tolerant” of the Cree in a patronising sort of way at best and downright racist at worse. Most of the people I’ve been meeting are enthused about their work and about being a part of the community here. And the students – what can I say. When they feel respected, they seem to flourish. I’ve had a great week so far getting to know students in 4 different science groups. While I was intimidated by teaching science, a read through the text book brought high school chemistry right back to me. It even reminded me of why I was originally drawn to the hard sciences! (I was on my way to becoming an astrophysicist before I switched to anthro!)
So, I’ve been flying high all week.
On top of all of that, I’ve gotten a couple of responses to a letter I got published in a local newsletter. In my letter, I wrote about my research but also why I was so in love with this town. I shared a lot about myself, but also wanted to make it clear that I was approaching the topic of my research with the utmost respect AND as someone who has lived through many of the trials and tribulations associated with alcohol use. So far, the people that have responded with interest seem to get that and seem excited about the prospect of discussing the topic.
Things are looking good!