Praise, recommendations and remembrance
As one of those interviewed for this article (Remarkable Teachers, September 2007) I should like to say how impressed I am with the final result. There is no authorship given and I have forgotten the name of the lady with whom I spoke, but I should like to pass on to her my admiration for making me sound not quite an idiot!
I am now retired but still miss the give and take of classroom discussions; wonderful memories!
Dougal A. Fraser is a retired teacher who taught Atom Egoyan at Glenlyon Preparatory School in Victoria, BC.
I was inspired by the September issue to write this letter about my own marvelous teaching experiences in the north. Thank you for the Do North! article. It allowed me to reflect on my fruitful teaching days when I began my career 22 years ago in Chibougamau, Québec.
Those days shaped the very person I am today: a successful, confident teacher and a well-balanced individual. Having grown up in Montréal, I have to say that my venture into the distant north was indeed a cultural shock. All of the buildings were shorter than I was accustomed to. There were no high-rises or extravagant shopping malls. Movie theatres and bakeries were non-existent. Though I was thrilled to find a small discotheque that even had a silver ball hanging over the dance floor!
The trees were pencil thin and I froze one of my ears because – being the city slicker that I was – I had stubbornly refused to wear a practical hat. I had arrived in Chibougamau probably looking like a cartoon southerner. I sported a silver handbag, flashy high heels, long, fashionably permed hair and a coat without a hood, which was typical of Montréal styles at the time.
My eventual assimilation brought with it a positive, open-minded perspective about life in general.
I often reminisce about my Do North days. I was a high school English/drama teacher. Whenever students performed in school plays, the gymnasium was filled beyond its capacity: grandparents, parents, siblings, babies, great-grandparents, first and second cousins, aunts and uncles. All showed a keen and supportive interest.
The majority of my students were Cree and Ojibway. They shared with me homemade bannock bread and moose-meat fondue, and they taught me to cross-country ski and to appreciate my natural environment.
Most of us teachers were in our twenties and, without our immediate families, depended on each other. We became a strong-willed teaching team that, in turn, benefitted our students. We also developed lifelong friendships. I met my geologist husband in Chibougamau – a land of drumming, fishing, goose hunting, cultural connections, dream catchers, lasting stories and spectacular adventures.
For the teachers who have not considered the northern experience: Do North! You will have no regrets!
Lenna Rhodes is an occasional teacher for the Halton Catholic DSB in Burlington.
I am a teacher and an officer in the Canadian Forces reserves. After reading the Remembrance Day article (September 2007) I wanted to share my thoughts.
First and foremost, November 11th was set aside to honour Canadian soldiers and their sacrifices; it is not about social justice issues or Holocaust survivors.
That said, schools must also realize that recognition of our soldiers goes beyond the world wars and Korea, and must make November 11th relevant to their students.
If they are like my students, they have many questions on the subject!
There are hundreds of Canadian soldiers who have recently returned from deployments in Afghanistan or other missions, who would be more than happy to explain their roles overseas.
My regiment (First Hussars) has numerous soldiers who have served or are serving out of country. None will talk about the glory of war – just about what they witnessed, their hard work, and the sacrifices they and their families are/were asked to make in the service of their country.
Patrick Mooney teaches elementary Core French at St. Joseph’s School in Clinton in the Huron-Perth Catholic DSB.
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