Division News

Division News

Northland educator receives an unforgettable welcome to the community of Peerless Lake

Posted on February 14

Imagine leaving a life in Edmonton and beginning a new chapter in a remote northern Alberta community where you’ve never been before and know little about. That became a reality for Chelsea Cattroll, a first year teacher at Peerless Lake School. Thinking back on the big move to Peerless Lake, Cattroll says it got off to a rocky start.   

“It seemed like nothing was going right on moving day,” said Cattroll. As prepared as I thought I was, it turned out that I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been because I have never moved before. My friend had problems getting the trailer to our place and the long and short of it, I had to pack the trailer starting at 11pm the night before the move, and I ended up getting hardly any sleep that night. This wasn’t great because I still had to pack the rest of my things the following morning. The next day we were faced with more delays and instead of leaving Edmonton at 10 am, we ended up leaving after 2pm. Also with so much weight in the trailer we had to haul at a slower speed and we didn’t end up getting to Peerless until 11pm.”

As you can imagine, Chelsea was physically and mentally fatigued by this point but her luck would soon change when she arrived at her new home.

“When my headlights hit my trailer I saw a sign that read “Chelsea Welcome to Peerless Lake”,” said Cattroll. “I then proceeded to do what I call ugly cry, a combination of being overtired and being awestruck that someone would be so thoughtful to take the time out of their day to make the sign. All I could think of is that I was really wanted here.  This immediately changed my mindset to forget that I was leaving so much of my life behind in Edmonton but rather to redirect my attention to all the positives and kindness of the community for welcoming me with open arms. That moment was a game changer for myself.”

The welcome sign was made by Peerless Lake Local School Board Committee Chair Louis Cardinal. A simple gesture but an excellent example of how Local School Board Committees provide a link between the school and the community. Chelsea went on to describe something Louis said that reassured her decision to move to Peerless Lake.

 “The following morning Louis stopped into the school to check in on how the drive and move was going so far, said Cattroll. “Just the action of coming to check in and see if I had made it into town all right again added to the reassurance that I had made the right decision in moving to Peerless. Another thing that Louis had said to me in that conversation was that I was “now a part of the community.” To me this was significant to be seen as a member of the community instead of an outsider. I was seen as one of them.”

Chelsea said in addition to Louis’s generosity, the students have been very welcoming.

“I would see the kids near the playground on my way to the school and they would run up and say “oh are you Chelsea the new teacher?” and would introduce themselves,” said Cattroll. “It was actually refreshing to see that kids even welcomed you. I might add that there wasn’t a parent behind them telling them to go say hello either.”

As Chelsea looks back on her arrival to Peerless Lake, she hopes others can have the same experience.

“I think it would have been easy to not put the time and effort into making the sign but the fact that Louis had taken the time and had consideration of what I might have been feeling in regards to leaving my home behind, said Cattroll. “I hope other new staff have an experience like I did because it immediately made me feel welcome.”