The 4 clans around Burns Lake area—Beaver, Caribou, Frog, and Bear

Late September 2018

Although there are 9 bands in this geographical area of BC, there are 4 clans. These clans are represented by totems around downtown Burns Lake… Just off the main highway that goes through downtown.  

They are also represented by wooden carvings on the grounds in front of the newest Hotel just west of town.

The hotel is owned by one or more bands and is also the location of the cheapest gas in town. Unfortunately as I don’t own a status card, I don’t benefit from the cheap rate. The fuel is even cheaper there than in Prince George!

Across the street is the only (and much used) car wash in town. I’ve never been there when it wasn’t busy!

First Pro-D in SD91 learning about the culture and community in Burns Lake.

September 21st 2018

It was a busy week! One school had Meet the staff night complete with stamping passports for chances to win prizes at the end of the night. Great idea.   I had displays about topics being taught in the Learning Commons and more displays of ocean/whales/coastal FN in the hall. French Immersion parents shared my space promoting the French Immersion program at WKE.

I spent the week researching about the 4 clans represented around town. On Friday during the Pro-D I got to spend the morning with another Teacher Librarian at the high school touring the gorgeous school and learning about some history of the area. It was quite fascinating! The Learning Commons was modern and comfy hosting its own cappuccino machine and very comfy furniture. There were cultural rooms, art rooms, languages, metal work, automotive, drama, dance, weight room, music sound room, home ec, textiles, cool computer programming, several science labs, etc. They also have won the provincial snowboarding championships for multiple years!

The art rooms were well stocked and there was lots of colourful and exciting art and First Nations work displayed.   I sent photos to my friend Kathleen who was an innovative art teacher in sd85 but was battling with cancer. She loved the art!  It was one of the last messages we exchanged as tragically she lost her battle with cancer on October 9th. 😭😳💔

In the photos above, There are photos of the truth and reconciliation project the entire school participated in. The tree at the front has 6 roots representing FN bands . There are six local First Nations bands (Burns Lake, Lake Babine, Cheslatta, Wet’suwet’en, Skin Tyee and Nee Tahi-Buhn.)  and there are 4 clans in this area. I’ll post about that next post. Every student and staff created one feather with a message to be cast in metal and form the wings on the stunning eagle which stands so magestically watching over the entrance of the high school. Well done Lakes District Secondary School!

 

Cops for Cancer came to School!

September 17th, 2018

I’ve participated in many Cops for Cancer presentations in Port Hardy during my 34 years teaching in SD85, but I’ve never witnessed a presentation quite like this one before! All the students K–7 at William Konkin Elementary in Burns Lake were seated in the school gymnasium then the music played, the side door opened, and over 30 riders drove into the gym and around the students on their bicycles!

It was totally engaging and the students were thrilled! Eventually they all stopped at the front in a long line while the emcee explained of the goals of Cops for Cancer to raise money to send children dealing with cancer (and their families) to Camp Good Times. Then several riders demonstrated how to hover on their bikes. After the presentation the riders rode into the crowd where they interacted with students and passed out Cops for Cancer tattoos. What an awesome morning!

 

Learning about my new community…Friendly people…friendly places..Terry Fox run is huge here!

September 12–17, 2018

I have been enjoying this beautiful September by walking around Burns Lake after school trying out coffee houses and getting a feel for this friendly community. The German owner of one coffee house makes everything from scratch (drinks and bakery items) and always sources organic materials. He loves to chat and is very upbeat and positive. The Boer Mountain coffee house also sources organic materials and also offers delicious fresh bakery items, soups, sandwiches, a health food store, and organic local meats. A third coffee shop beside FYI optometrist Alternative Grounds looks more yuppy in appearance and offers breakfast too. However,  the coffee shops usually close by 4:00ish. The major grocery stores are the PC Wholesale Store (mini costco type) and a Save On Foods store (which rarely has BBQ chickens available!). Check out the salt licks!

The Terry Fox run is a big event here and I really wanted to participate in the run and activities at Francois Lake. There is local entertainment (chorals, highland dancing, fiddle and east coast type bands), art, silent auctions, etc. Unfortunately, an unexpected visit to Emerg. occured that day and I didn’t get a chance to participate in this community event, but did get a tour of the hospital.

I was also invited for my first home cooked meal by a lovely teaching colleague. What a treat! Thanks Monica and Edmund! They told me they have fox, coyote, and bears which wander through their yard :-0

Kerplunks, Spruce Kings, on my own…

September 7–10 2018

At school we had a special musical concert from the Kerplunks to lift spirits due to the challenging summer with the forest fires and evacuations in areas. They were upbeat and fun…. what a surprise to discover the 4 musicians were from Vancouver Island! (Nanaimo area and Sointula!!!  Home time for me!)

Mark and I drove past the forest fire tent area in Fraser Lake (no longer there btw) to Prince George to visit my bro! We went to a local hockey game. The PG Spruce Kings were playing. At Intermission They threw a few promotional TShirts up to the fans and Mark caught one! Pretty tiny though lol

Saying goodbye as Mark flew home to Nanaimo and driving solo back to Burns Lake was rather emotional. Flying solo for awhile! Leaving Prince George on Sept 9th there was a big FN event by the Mr PG. What was going on?

Well… my sponsor family was waiting at home base… So much to discover yet and so many goals to achieve at my work locations!

Exploring Topley, Granisle and Babine Lake area.

Sept. 6th 2018

While Mark was still staying with me in Burns Lake we decided to explore the Lakes area more. The secretaries from both schools I work at come from Topley and there are many library books in the Decker Lake library from Topley as the school was shut down several years ago. Topley is 49 km from Burns Lake and takes about 35 minutes to drive there. There is an interesting general store and cafe boasting photos of the past to check out just off the highway.

Then it is another drive 49 km mainly north (about 35 minutes), partially along Babine Lake, to arrive at Granisle. It is a beautiful drive and my principal from Decker is also the principal of Babine Lake school. Apparently if you are really lucky during snow season you might chance upon a Lynx during the trip. Also, at the right time….moose are fairly common I’m told. Well…We didn’t see any Lynx or Moose this trip, but we did see deer and bear!

We stopped at the fish ladders and were in awe by the enormous number of salmon dedicated to leaping over the fish walls! But in the 1/2 hour we watched….only 1 was successful!

As we neared Granisle heading down the hill towards the lake, I felt de ja vous of Port Alice! Weird….but there are some similarities! This tiny village is struggling ATM as the mine has shut down, but there is a strong push for tourism and sections of the village are looking new and revitalized. They are currently creating a lovely campground adjacent to the lake. Check out the sign on the school fence!

 

Exploring Francois Lake/Southside. Smoke from the fires…

September 5th.

I am staying at a home in Burns Lake. The owners are quite delightful. Currently I am boarding downstairs, but soon I will be house sitting and looking after the cat (Brat–It’s her real name honestly!)  while the snowbirds depart to Yuma Arizona to avoid all the winter snow up here!

Yesterday Joe took Mark out fishing on Francois Lake while I was teaching. Although it’s written Francois Lake, most of the locals call it Frances Lake. We had lovely fish for dinner! Today we decided to drive around the lake area. We didn’t take the ferry across to Southside. It is still very smokey there and the fire evacuation order was only lifted days ago.  As you drive further away from the school and community center area, some  of the homes seem to get bigger satellite dishes and the woodsheds seem to be adorned with more antlers from deer, moose, and cariboo.

The sunset was incredible as the colors were magnified by the smokey skies.

Exploring Boer Mountain & Kager Lake Trails–Burns Lake! Lots of mountain biking and hiking trails!

Sept. 3-4th The weather around Burns Lake was sunny and beautiful for exploring outdoors. We finally had a tiny bit of rain which was outright optimistic to the forest fighters! Mark stayed in Burns Lake for the first week of school. We explored driving up some of the nearby roads admiring the beauty of the area. We discovered another tent city for fire fighters, and lots of gorgeous lakes and marshy areas. No wonder the moose love it around here!

Mark and I drove about 7 minutes beyond town up to Boer Mountain Lookout Road then continued to the trailhead of Kager Lake. It is very lovely here and popular with lots of mountain bikers. There are bike trails for beginners up to black diamond level.  There is a very keen mountain biking club here and a rental location in town. There is also free camping available and a lovely lake trail to walk/hike. The Kager Lake loop is only 2.8km but if you can also add the long lake loop–it’s 6.4 km. There are lots of signs posted warning to watch out for bears. We saw bear scat, but no bears.

The 2 Elementary School Libraries I’ll be evolving! WKE and Decker (Burns Lake)

Sept. 2018

My title is District Teacher-Librarian/Learning Commons Specialist. My base is in Burns Lake, B.C. SD91 Nechako Lakes. I am here for 6 months to create and introduce library programs and evolve libraries into Learning Commons at 2 Elementary Schools in Burns Lake area. I might be mentoring TL up here too. We’ll see?

I work at William Konkin Elementary Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. It’s very interesting…About 200 students K–grade 7 in 10 classrooms. There is a Carrier cultural program at the school and dual track English and French Immersion. There is a huge, energetic staff and lots of cool programs occurring. There is a breakfast and lunch program too. img_4415I even have my own Eagle Group on Mondays. Nearly all staff touches base with the same 7 students (mixed grades) for 20 minutes each Monday and we discuss traits– like respect. The staff is amazing and we share lots of laughter and fun! (Photos at the beginning of the year….Before pics!)

On Thursday and Fridays I work at Decker Lake Elementary which is about 10 km west along (yes) Decker Lake, towards Topley. This school is a bit smaller. There are 6 classrooms from K–Grade 7. Most of the students get bused from surrounding areas. I’m on duty at 8:10–8:35 a.m. both mornings and supervise the students from the first 2 buses. 3 more buses arrive after I head inside. We have to stay outside unless the temp. gets below -20 degrees C! The lowest I’ve hit so far is -11 degrees. The staff is much smaller and come from Southside, Topley, and lots of areas. The school is surrounded by  woods and the children love building forts and nature creations. I asked about bears…They said there are rarely bears but sometimes a moose! The students play really well together. There is an ice rink structure near the merry go rounds, but I’m told it doesn’t get cold enough for the ice to last anymore???? (Before photos! At the beginning of the year….Check out the plug ins for vehicle heaters!)

There is an orthodox Mennonite school below Decker school. Their bells go at different times and these children don’t seem to mix much. Students wear traditional clothing and there are often signs by the school selling fresh eggs, baking, and crafts.