Alana Andrea Tiffen is a resource and special education teacher living and working in St. Theresa Point First Nation in Manitoba. She joined the 2021 Cohort of Teach for Canada and is completing her first year teaching at St. Theresa Point Early Years School. Alana is joined by her husband, Moe, who is from Cairo, Egypt.
We connected with Alana to hear more about the many ways that she has been connecting with her community this year, and how she has learned to value the Teach For Canada network along the way.
This year has reminded me of the importance of in-person connection. As has been the case in many communities, the COVID-19 pandemic brought challenges to St.Theresa Point as well. School began later than anticipated, and repeated closures limited my face-to-face interactions with students and community members. Chatting with friends and neighbours around St. Theresa Point has helped tremendously, and has allowed me to learn about, and settle into, life here.
When I moved to St. Theresa Point in September 2021, I received a warm greeting and personal tour of the community. By the end of the month, I had already witnessed a traditional bear harvest, facilitated staff training sessions on topics like team building, and joined community members in the first truth and reconciliation ceremony on September 30th.
I assisted with meal prep for funerals, visited community agencies such as CFS, Healing Center, Police Station, Health Centre, and Jordan’s Principle, and assisted with three student vaccination clinics. I’ve had a lot of fun participating in various staff activities such as fishing, accompanying two communities on the winter road, and learning to ice fish. Through these experiences, I was able to learn more about the culture, traditions, food, histories, and language of St. Theresa Point.
This year, I have been able to participate in many school and community initiatives, which has helped me meet and deepen my relationships with many amazing people. These crucial connections have helped me strengthen my approach to teaching the community’s most precious gift–the children.
When you reach out and connect with others, inspiration and learning appears, and the outcome is amazing.
This school year, I am the most proud of the fact that I was able to make an impact in the community despite the challenges of the pandemic.
As St. Theresa Point continued to navigate COVID-19, I took on the role of wellness worker on the pandemic committee. I was responsible for phoning folks with their test results, conducting initial symptom interviews, discussing pandemic protocols, conducting daily check-ins to gauge household health, and providing information on services available in the community.
This role allowed me to learn many names, and people have begun recognizing me around the community, which makes me very proud. Being present in the community by helping with road security during a lockdown, and making hampers of essential supplies for Elders has helped me further grow these relationships.
The most important lesson that I have learned since becoming a Teach For Canada Teacher is that I am now part of a highly skilled network of people, including educators, First Nations community members, and Teach For Canada Staff.
This dynamic group shares ongoing inspiration, exceptional expertise, knowledge, unique life experiences, training, and fantastic support for living and teaching successfully in a First Nation.
With Teach For Canada’s amazing support, you never walk alone in the North. I am truly honoured to be a Teach For Canada Teacher living and teaching in St. Theresa Point First Nation.