My Reflections of My Time in a Northern Albertan Community
As newlyweds, my wife and I spent our first two years living in a fly-in community in Northern Alberta. My wife worked at the nursing station and I taught Grade 3. We lived in the teacherage and we enjoyed the friendships gained, the opportunity to get involved in the community and the outdoor lifestyle.
Initially shocked by the remoteness and lack of Tim Hortons, we eventually made friendships that lasted a lifetime. Weekends were times for potlucks and social gatherings. We ate and we laughed – some of us on a temporary career adventure and others who had made a permanent choice or who had lived in remote and Northern communities all their lives. Breaking bread with others was essential to our survival and the need to be part of a community.
Being involved in the larger community provided opportunity for professional development and leadership. My wife was on a representative for our community in national health programs and I coached hockey for our community team. I remember walking home from practice in the winter moonlight for supper. My greatest achievement in coaching was bringing a team to the provincials my second year. What an eye opening for my players who have never left the community. I had to buy a dozen goggles for these teenage boys as we sat in the shallow end of West Edmonton Mall’s wave pool. I took them to their first movie and restaurant. The boys commented how they missed moose meat and how their feet hurt from all the walking on concrete. The north provided such great teaching and learning experiences that remain with both of us. It gave us such great perspective and wisdom in making future decisions in our life.
Being in a remote rural community gets you to experience the outdoors and appreciate the changing seasons. We enjoyed our daily walks and our weekend excursions into nature. From picking cranberries to catching my first arctic grayling we enjoyed our time up North. After an invitation from locals, I even started duck hunting which was certainly outside my comfort zone. I eagerly accepted the trade with an elder for my ducks which meant I did not have to prepare and clean the ducks! If you enjoy the outdoor lifestyle....you will love the North.
My wife and I are extremely grateful for our time up North. It provided many opportunities and learning experiences that molded our lives and was a solid foundation on which we both built our careers. I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and try working in a Northern community. Adventure and life-long understanding awaits!
- Eric Dyck