Showing posts from September, 2016


I felt beneath my pillow for my iPod to check the time, which  read 6.00 a.m., although it was actually 5.00 a.m. It hadn't automatically adjusted to the correct time for Mish, but I thought that being an hour ahead might serve as an advantage for the week, as long as I bore it in mind. Surrounding me lay 8 air mattresses and their cargo--a sea of people in sleeping bags scattered over the floor of the large, empty classroom. I rolled over and got up from my mattress as gracefully as a seal waddling from the sea. In the dim morning light, I  gripped my orange backpack filled with toiletries, and  navigated  my way to the door of the classroom, trying not to disturb my teammates. I left their soft breathing and gentle stirrings behind as I gripped the handle of the classroom door and exited, as careful as a cat-burglar. I had found a small desk the night before, in a secluded corner of an adjoining classroom--the perfect place to have a quiet hour before each day began. Thr

First Things

  The evening's priorities were taken care of: inflating 15 air mattresses and setting up the kitchen--sleep and food being among the essentials of life, after all. But the first priority for some of us was finding out the wifi password. Our friend Kendra gave sobering news--the internet at the school had been turned off for the summer. It was a moment of some adjustment to discover that fact. That is a bit of an understatement. Paul was so exhausted by the preparations and journey that he sank onto his air-mattress the moment it was blown up and was not heard from until the next morning, but Susan pulled the rest of us together around the yellow oil-cloth covered dining table, for an initial meeting.  First we talked about about our group's approach. This is our 12th year of connection with Mish. We go with an agenda to befriend, support and show love to the community in any way we can, sometimes responding to specific needs they mention. Our discipline is to show our fa

So Many Eyes

As I continue my stories about our trip to Mishkeegogang this August, I feel it important to say that these reflections are limited to my point of view. There were 15 pairs of eyes on this trip, each with a unique perspective. Seven  belonged to young people, eyes wide open, some belonged to adults who had never been on a First Nations reserve before, and some of us came with history and learning under our belts, but always learning more. I am sure that each person could share their own interesting impressions and epiphanies and I wish you could read a broader cross section of these perspectives here. For now, though, it's my personal viewpoint and not the definitive story of the Mish trip.  In visiting Mish on the web, I just discovered a fact that I did not know, and that is that it is halfway between two oceans, which you can see at the bottom of the page reached by clicking here ! About 12 hours after the journey began for those of us who flew, the long grey road from Ignac

Traffic Signs

The wipers kept a rhythmic beat against the September rain that gathered relentlessly on my windshield. The rain didn't bother me, though-- I was grateful for the more leisurely pace of a Saturday morning as I drove down Highway 400 towards the city.  Casually I glanced over to my right, and noticed with curiosity  a silver van whose  license plate had only three letters: N-U-H.  "NUH," I thought to myself, turning the letters over in my mind, while considering their possible significance. A friend to whom I was telling this story later, guessed at, "Nothing Under Heaven;"  someone else might think they represented:    , but to me at that moment, they rhymed with  Gnu , a slope-backed type of antelope, and therefore were pronounced, "New." "New," I said to myself..."I'm new," or "I'm new here," trying out various possibilities.  It made me think of my own life, and how new I am in some ways lately--&qu

The True North Strong and Free

We left for the flight from Toronto Pearson Airport    to Thunder Bay, early on Saturday morning. Finally being on the way at last felt good. It was time to let go of preparing and focus forward.  Below us, the city of Toronto, and then its suburbs, fell away, and we glimpsed fields and farming communities as the plane's powerful engines lifted us high above the clouds.  In less than two hours we were descending again, and looking down on a beautifully rugged landscape. A river shimmered silver in the sunlight, reflecting the clouds above as it snaked its way through the green and forested landscape. I was excited at the thought of reconnecting with the rest of the team, but was also looking forward to seeing Harriet Visitor, the grade 8 teacher whom we got to know when she brought her graduates  from Mish  to visit the south for a week in June. Harriet was going to be away on vacation when we'd be in Mish, and we were disappointed that we wouldn't see her, but the

They Went with Us

The Friday before leaving for Mish was a flurry of final preparations. I was in a state of low level panic but trying to give the impression that I had a semblance of control as time was running out before leaving. Lindsay, 17, came to spend the night so that she could leave with us for the airport early the next morning. She and Tippy spent the evening overflowing with giggles and energy as only teenage girls can. :) There were 6 more young people besides Lindsay on the team: Lizzie-11 Sarah-12 Eliana-13 Matthew-14 Mikey-16 and Ethan-16 And 8 adults: Kevin and Jamie in Kevin's truck that pulled a trailer, Susan S. in a car also towing a trailer, Susan B. (Sarah's mom) driving a van generously loaned by Christian Horizons , an agency that several of us have close ties with, Christy (Eliana and Lizzie's mom) Paul and I, Holly (a teacher with boundless energy--that's her on the right in the photo at the airport) Some of us were meeting for the