Symphony is nine years old and has been living in Deer Lake First Nation since September 2018 with her mom Chanequa, a Teach For Canada teacher. Symphony wanted to share her experiences with other children who may be moving to a northern First Nation with a parent through Teach For Canada. In this blog post, Symphony shares all of the things that make living in Deer Lake First Nation “super special and awesome” and gives five pieces of advice to other children about how to make the most out of a new experience.
Last year my mom talked to me about moving to a First Nation reserve and my first thought was that “it’s going to be fun”. I did not realize that there was going to be problems with getting things I’m use to like food and water. Now that I have been here for almost one whole school year I’ve gotten use to living in the North so I want to share with other kids what kind of things they can expect and what my experience has been like so far.
When my mom and I discussed coming to the North she said that I could bring my puppy River with us. She’s a beagle and she is really cute. If I could speak for River I would say she really loves life on the reserve. She gets to run around and play with other dogs all day long. We stopped taking her for walks because she loves to run and smell the earth and other scents.
My school is beautiful, and sometimes River comes to visit me at recess when she’s outside. I love playing outside at recess, and in the forest after school but if I had to choose my most favourite place in my entire school, I would say it’s the library. I love doing research, especially about topics related to science and so when I’m in the library I can spend a lot of time doing that. It is also quiet and peaceful and there is not a lot of people in there most of the time. I also enjoy having Native Language class, but sometimes I wonder if it will be hard for me to switch back to French when I go to school in the south.
The most interesting thing about my experience at school this year is that my mom is my teacher. Sometimes I love it but other times I do not like it at all. Having my mom in my class has made it easier to make friends because she is always there to support me. Early in the school year, I asked my mom if I could have a sleepover with some of my friends from class and she said, “yes”. She also told me that I would have to ask the principal for permission. He said “yes” and that was the moment when I started to make strong friendships. I’ve had many sleepovers this year and I thank my mom for allowing me to have friends over so I’m not as lonely.
Some of the things my mom and I spend time doing after school, on the weekends and during school breaks and holidays are community walks, cooking, baking and creating things together. A few weeks ago we built a wall with rocks around a fire pit near our home and some of the kids in the community helped us out. We recently started making a path with fallen trees and broken tree trunks in the forest area behind our home and I love exploring with my mom and my friends when they come over.
Shopping for food is different in the North because my mom is only able to go to one grocery store, and at the beginning, we were both vegetarians. My mom is still a vegetarian, but she has tried some traditional food like moose meat, but I love meat now so my mom tries to buy the things I want to eat. I enjoy cooking with my mom so much because we have made some cool dishes and she lets me bake whenever I want to. Most of the time we can find the supplies we need at the grocery store, but if it’s not there my mom will order what we need from Walmart.
The thing I miss most about the south is being able to buy almost anything I want to eat and going to restaurants. In Deer Lake First Nation there are places to buy food and snacks and I love when my mom buys treats like Oreo cheesecake and slushies for me and my friends. It’s also fun to go on Facebook to see who has special treats for sale in the community. Every week it’s like a different surprise menu.
My mom and I only left Deer Lake once since we came here, and that was recently when we went to Red Lake for my mom to meet her teaching mentor. I really enjoyed that trip and meeting other students who were so friendly to me. Even though my mom and I stayed in Deer Lake over the holidays, New Years and March break we were busy. We found many things to do like participating in the community’s annual Christmas feast and television station games and gift giveaways.
Now that the school year is almost over, I’m looking forward to travelling south for the summer. Another thing that I think about is how moving in the future might be scary. I made some friends but I don’t want to leave them behind. When I spoke to my mom about this, she told me that I shouldn’t fear losing my friends because I could see them in the future.
So, while I keep making friends here, learning at school and outside from the land I am keeping track of all these memories with photos and videos. The big project I am starting now is my own Instagram account where I can share with my family and friends the things that make living in a First Nation reserve super special and awesome.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience in the North and if I could recommend one thing it would be to make the best out of your own experience. You can do that by thinking about these five important things before you move:
Five Important Things for Kids Moving North
1. Bring your pet if you have one
2. Don’t bring too many toys because there are lots of things to do in nature
3. Go outside as much as you can
4. Have family dinner time without technology
5. Don’t be afraid to try new things