A trip to Canada’s north will change your life, are you ready?
While the term ‘connectivity’ is generally associated with the Internet and Wi-Fi strength, when one travels north to Fond-du-Lac, our students felt more deeply connected to people and the environment in the north.
This ability to become fully immersed in a new culture and to learn how to accept, without judgment, a new sense of normal can be both a wonderful and tiring experience. Exposure to different lifestyles and experiences has a way of highlighting rights, privileges, necessities and indulgences.
Access to immediate emergency health care, affordable healthy food and personalized social support services for example, are resources that southern communities expect, but that northern communities often lack. Discovering differences that are fundamental, by southern Canada definition, can be an intense experience. Building relationships and hearing stories about lived experience can add to that intensity.
The December 2017 plane crash and subsequent suicides affected the entire Fond-du-Lac community and was a story that particularly resonated with students. Through powerful stories such as this, students gained perspective and recognized the resiliency of the community as a whole in the face of tragedy and hardship. London Ontario student and trip attendee, Emma Richard, encapsulated, “There is something to be said for and maybe learned from the quiet strength of trees.”
With a new understanding about the hardships and trauma woven into the fabric of daily northern life, another student and trip attendee, Zoe Smith, shared, “This trip really made me open my eyes to the struggles of the North and has encouraged me to be an advocate for the North and Indigenous people. I will do this by sharing their stories and my experiences to those in the South.”
Returning to London, bearing the weight of stories told and experiences lived, students were struck by the enormity of the encounters. Emma Richard shared, “I learned that I can hold onto contradictions. I can struggle with the North but love it. I can leave feeling more rested, but exhausted. My heart can be more broken, but stronger – poured out, but fuller.”
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