We recently asked Linda Wright, our Director of Distance Projects, to write about her experiences traveling to remote Northern Ontario First Nations communities. If you know Linda or have met her in person, she will talk to anyone who will listen about her trips to remote communities. Ask to see her pictures and you will feel her experiences deep in your heart. According to Linda, she “finds it tough to try and communicate in a small number of words how amazing, and always life changing, these trips are.” Here is Linda’s reflection, while flying home, on her recent trip to Cat Lake.
I’m returning from my second trip to Cat Lake First Nation (Population approx. 500) which is located 180 km NW of Sioux Lookout connected by daily flights. A winter ice road connects the community to Pickle Lake and takes 4 – 5 hours to drive.
The current Chief and Council want the community to have access to learning opportunities from WITHIN their community and therefore have dedicated space and set up a learning centre. The purpose of this trip was to familiarize myself with as many community members as possible and with their current technology setup. Our goal when we left was to leave them confident in their abilities to access the online classroom we, and many of Contact North’s educational partners, use to teach our classes.
Those of us living in communities where we can jump in our car and go to any number of stores, have reliable Internet and institutions we can depend on, have no idea the daily challenges that a remote community has. Our expectations that supplies and services are readily available is not a reality for those in Cat Lake. They must be patient and resourceful – a lesson we learned once again this week.
We came across many, what we would call challenges but to those in Cat Lake are just day to day issues they live with. We started the week with Plan A and were forced to resort to Plan B – but also to C, D, E and F.
With the determination of our new friend Sheila, and shear will power of Tina – we worked to ensure that to the best of our abilities the community has the access it needs. There is now a plan in place for the first 3 learning priorities of the Chief and we left feeling confident that this community and its strong, resilient members WILL have access to the opportunities that they want and deserve.
Thank you Linda for sharing your recent experience to Cat Lake. It’s an amazing example of Linda’s leadership and passion to work with communities and their members to find solutions and opportunities unique to their needs. We can’t wait to hear more about your future trips.