This morning started out at the Sheshatshiu Inu School. This school is run by the Innu community and it's a really nice building. Liz Dawson, the wonderful lady who was driving me around, gave me a tour of the community before we went to the school. She's a librarian now but she used to be a nurse there back in the day. She's originally from Ontario, but moved to Labrador and fell in love with the place. She confessed to me that her first love was Labrador and her second was her husband. Sadly he's since passed on and she lives in the nice little house with her dog by the lake - but more on that later.
The Innu community is also on lake Melville. It's a rapidly growing community to keep up with the population growth. There were a lot of dogs roaming around and lots of garbage melting out of the snow. I have a feeling the dogs were probably responsible for the scattering of the garbage. Of course there's nothing anyone can do about that right now because most everything is still frozen. There were some nice log cabins and some more rustic looking homes, as well as some houses under construction.
We looked for seals on the lake ice (the lake itself is brackish) but we didn't see any. It turns out that the Innu don't really eat seal. It's mostly just the Labradorians who do. That was a bit of information I didn't expect.
The school itself looked like a museum. It was really beautiful on the inside (the outside is pretty spiffy too). When I arrived the high school students were in a suicide prevention seminar. I was a little worried about following that. My program is fun and active and I thought that would be the last thing these kids would want after the emotional roller coaster they were going through when I arrived. Luckily they had a half hour break while I ran a very shortened program (half hour instead of the usual one hour program) with the younger grades. I didn't bother reading from my book and just got into the meat of how to write a story and what goes into one. The kids were really shy. It took a bit to get them out of their shell. I did finally get them to open up though and we had some fun.
Then the high school students came back. They still looked haggard so I decided that story time might be in order and read from the second chapter of Stupid. The seemed to enjoy that. Then we talked about where stories could be found and I asked a couple of questions to make sure they understood. You could almost hear crickets chirping. Luckily there was one enthusiastic gamer guy who was more than happy to step up and answer the questions. He kind of broke the ice and soon a few more of them were talking. But again with the shortened program and the emotional state of the kids - it was a tough crowd.
Before I left the school gave me two books about Innu history, so I gave them two of my books that had aboriginal main characters. I was really happy when one of the teens picked up Hook Up to look at. It has a native kid on the cover - something you don't see too often. He didn't buy it, but now he can read it in his school library and that is an awesome thing.
After lunch we zipped off for Lake Melville school. It's a K-12 with just over 100 students. The kids are super happy and really nice. I did my Action Scenes presentation with the grades 8-11 (I think). The kids were really attentive and right into the process. We talked about how any scene, but particularly action scenes can be broken down to acts like a mini version of a novel or story. We then acted out an action scene which took place during the cold war in Cuba. Sadly the heroes didn't win, but they did live to fight another day. We also talked about pacing and the rhythm of an action scene. The I answered some questions.
Because I was getting a ride back with one of the school board members I had half an hour to kill. The English teacher (who was obviously much loved by his students) picked up on my enthusiasm for teaching kids and suggested I hang out with the grade five students who were in the music room as the music teacher had no objections.
Of course I jumped at the chance. Instead of running a formal program with them, I decided to just lead them through some writing games I do with my RIO writing club kids. We played with the Wheel Of Genre twice. They were a little rusty on the first round but by the second time they really took to it. Then we made up a live action story which involved an apocalyptic world, a comedian, and zombies. Because the class was so small, everyone was able to get in on the action. They asked some questions at the end of the game and then I had to zip off with my ride. It was too bad, the kids were so awesome I wish I could have stayed all afternoon hanging out with them.
The funniest thing about going to Blanc Sablon is it's in the Quebec time zone and I'm leaving from the Labrador time zone. So I leave at 8:15 and arrive at 8:05. I'll be a time traveler. Sweet, eh?
I want to thank Liz Dawson for her amazing hospitality and great driving skills (some of the potholes are huge). And I want to thank the lady who drove me back to Goose Bay. Sadly I suck with names so I don't remember hers, but hopefully she knows who she is.
It was rainy/snowy/cold today and I needed to do laundry so there was no wandering around Goose Bay sadly. Hopefully the weather improves tomorrow and I can get some exploring done. We will see.
Until tomorrow. . .