Sunday, 17 June 2012

The Final Week

Well, here we are.  In 4 days I will be on my way to Montreal and then back home to Ontario.  In the last month, there hasn't been a whole lot going on (hence my lack of posting).  Spring was brief, and quickly evolved into a significantly hotter summer than I had anticipated.  Right now the weather is 20 degrees Celcius and partly cloudy.  It has been excellent weather for walking and hiking up the mountains, aside from one other unexpected thing, Insects!!!  I have no idea how they are able to survive the winter here, but there are wayyy too many for my liking.  I went on a 2 hour hike yesterday and came home with about 20 something mosquito bites.

Last Friday (June 15) was graduation.  I spent 3.5 days working on the graduation cake, but the grads were all very impressed and I was just happy that they liked it.

Now I'm going to take some time to reflect on my time here.  There are several points I want to mention.

1. Apparently there is no nice transition between the seasons.  It is either Summer or Winter here and probably about 2-3 weeks of transition between each.

2. The people here have learned to live simply.  I have had discussions with people about this and the simple living is the easiest explanation.In regards to education and the like, most people don't take it too too seriously since the future they have in store for themselves does not necessitate it.  We discussed people who drop out and work at the grocery store versus the people who graduate...and work at the grocery store...  The problem/blessing is that there is not very much infrastructure here.  This is a simple place, which is quite nice since we can go camping, hiking, hunting, fishing...etc whenever we feel like it and we really don't need to travel long to get 'back to nature' so to speak.  The downside though is that the job market here is extremely limited.  There are only so many teachers or nurses that are required.  There is essentially no place for someone with a Masters or a Phd here.  It's is a little sad, but higher education doesn't seem to open many opportunities here and would really require people to find jobs in the South if they want to go that route.  This is not necessarily something people want to do since they are very in love with the land here and want to keep their traditions.

3. The Quebec school system is very messed up.  The way that we are schooling the kids here does not do them justice.  As I said in point 2, there is not a lot of work here for a University graduate, but a trades graduate? There is virtually unlimited potential for a skilled trades person here.  There are no certified electricians, plumbers, mechanics, cooks (aside from myself), or anyone with any real skill in even cutting hair.  All of the services that we would have a hard time opening in the South, people are crying for them out here.  The number one reason why we don't have them, is the school system!  The way that things are set up is to train kids to go to University.  That is all.  There is only 1 stream, academic.  With all of the changes that I have seen happen to the school systems in Ontario, especially the introduction of the SHSM program, I simply do not understand the benefit of this one stream program.  It is especially appalling when I go into a class and I have kids that should be in a workplace level program and I have kids that should be in an academic stream program.  The programs at KSB have been designed to be done by anyone in the class, but that means that at one end, you have kids that have no idea what is going on (and usually drop out), and on the other end we have kids that are so bored because the material is too easy.  I mentioned these to many of the administrators, and they share my frustration.  They have been pushing for multilevel programs for quite some time, but KSB refuses to introduce them, preferring to stick with the single stream.  For this reason alone, I am happy I am leaving this board.

4. The most profound point I have realized while being here is how the community is a family.  I suppose like a normal family there are elements you like and others you do not like, but in the end, everyone works together.  People go fishing or hunting and come back with a huge haul, but they would always drop the meat off at the community freezer where it would be distributed to the whole village.  I will always remember how nice and friendly everyone was to me here.  I is amazing that people will see you walking in the cold, or heat and offer you a ride back to town on the back of their vehicles.  A lot of the time I was offered rides by people I didn't even know.  It may seem like a simple thing, but it is normal here, but almost unthinkable in the South.  What if the person is a crazy homicidal maniac?! I think it's safe to say that most people aren't.  There is a lot to be said for giving freely, especially when you don't have a lot to begin with.

Goodbye GR, I'll miss you ;)


  1. All in all, you can say that this was a beneficial experience for you on many different levels. No matter what you do for the rest of your life you will always look back on this as one of the key experiences of your life. Consider yourself fortunate for having this rare opportunity.

  2. I totally agree with Dad. This was a truly unique experience and for all the challenges, I am envious that you got to go fishing, and dog sledding, and pick wild blueberries, and see a polar bear. And the Canadianness of it all - truly a part of our culture that few ever experience first hard. This was a great summary of your experience. Your writing has improved! :)