Written by: Rianne Rops, Former Program Participant
It was our second night on the island after we had all turned in for the night. At some point in the wee hours of the morning, I left my tent to use the facilities and was surprised to find two girls from Black Lake sitting at our campfire. Bailey and Nancy were huddled together on a wooden bench, taking turns feeding the fire to keep warm. With a shrug of their shoulders, they explained, “Nancy’s grandma didn’t come for us yesterday. We have no food, and nowhere to sleep. She’ll probably come for us tomorrow.” Surprised, I went to my tent and brought back two pairs of sweatpants and a sweater from my suitcase, regretting that I couldn’t invite them into our sleeping quarters, where it was warm. The next morning, I found them on the same benches, the fire still very much alive, laughing and talking with each other. They returned my sweatpants and sweater in exchange for some toast.
This image of Bailey and Nancy sharing their situation with such “matter-of-factness” is an image that has stuck with me. There was a total absence of complaining. No part of their conversation included things like, “I'm so cold,” or “I can’t believe grandma didn’t come back,” or “I’m hungry.” They had a casual sort of toughness; a toughness that is part and parcel of living in a community where, for many, substance use is the only accessible means of making their present moment liveable. When Bailey and Nancy didn’t find support from their caregivers, they turned to each other to make it through another night. And they were laughing in the morning. Cold, hungry, tired and have no clue how they were going to make it off the island, they were laughing.
A trip to Canada’s North will grant you the opportunity to experience an entirely new way of life and make a difference in a community facing adversity. If you are interested in supporting Northern Bridge or learning more about our programs, please review our programs and services.