Gurpreet Flora is a grade 6 teacher in Deer Lake First Nation. She completed her undergraduate degree and Bachelor of Education at York University. Prior to becoming a Teach For Canada teacher, Gurpreet was a Teach For Canada student ambassador at York University where she informed her peers about teaching opportunities in northern First Nations with Teach For Canada. This past year, Gurpreet sought out a partnership that would help provide her classroom with school supplies.
In remote communities, accessing back-to-school supplies can be particularly difficult. Teach For Canada teacher Gurpreet Flora recognized the need for school supplies for her students within the first few months of teaching in Deer Lake First Nation. They were often asking Gurpreet for pencils, erasers, and other supplies to complete their work – a challenge that she knows many teachers can relate to.
So, she had a conversation with her students. They talked about what kind of supplies might be helpful in class and discussed how backpacks could make it easier to bring home artwork, forms, and school work. They agreed they wanted to look into options to bring these supplies to their school together.
After some research, Gurpreet discovered True North Aid, an organization that works with Indigenous communities in Canada to support education, health, and other projects. They were interested in partnering. She spoke to the principal and the education director in Deer Lake First Nation and they were supportive of her and her students’ idea. So were the students’ guardians and parents.
After nearly six months of collaboration, 300 backpacks filled with school and hygiene supplies were ready to be sent to Deer Lake First Nation School. True North Aid trucked all of the bags to Thunder Bay, Ontario. Then, with support from North Star Air and with funds allocated by community leadership, they were flown straight to the community.
When school started this year, the backpacks were laid out in the main hallway of the school and the students were able to choose which one they liked. They were ecstatic!
Now when Gurpreet walks to Deer Lake First Nation School she sees students racing up with backpacks on. They proudly hang them in their lockers. She says she has noticed the project gave her students a greater sense of agency. And when class starts, they are ready to learn with the supplies they need.