Current North Spirit Lake time

The current North Spirit Lake First Nations time is

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“Choosing to be positive and having a grateful attitude is going to determine how you’re going to live your life.” – Joel Osteen

Well it’s been a while since my last post. As some of you know that’s because there was not a whole lot of power when I first arrived back in NSL. Not a whole lot has happened over the last couple weeks except for the craziness with the power.

As you know from my last post I got back to NSL on Sunday, January 5th. The power was relatively normal for that day/night. Monday is when it began. All day Monday and Tuesday the power was going on and off. We already knew that we weren’t going to have school Monday because the heating system wasn’t working, but the power outages were not helpful to getting them back up on line. The water was also off most of Monday.

Tuesday around dinner time the power went off for the night. Let me tell you – that was the coldest night of my life! Everyone else in the community have wood stoves in their houses. Some even have generators. But the teacherages don’t have either. So when the power is off there is no way to heat our houses.

Tuesday night was about -40 so it was freezing. I had a ton of layers on to sleep but I was still frozen. I also barely even slept that night. Even time I would doze off I’d be woken up because my body temperature would drop. It was a pretty rough night.

Wednesday morning the power came back on again and they managed to get the boilers back working. However, it went off in the early evening and then only came on every once in a while for a few minutes. Since it was on for most of the day and then coming on for a few minutes throughout the evening the heater was able to come on a bit and heat up the house. This was helpful because the power was off again all Wednesday night. It wasn’t as cold as the night before so I did manage to sleep a bit.

Thursday was pretty much the same. The power was going on and off all afternoon. They didn’t work on the boilers at the school since the power wasn’t consistent enough. They also discovered leaks in the pipes because they froze over the holidays. It was about -2 in the kindergarten classroom.

I tried to go out and see the Northern Lights Thursday night but it was too cloudy. So I still haven’t seen them! The power stayed on all Thursday night so I was able to sleep comfortably in the warmth.

Once again the power was on and off all Friday morning to evening. Then in the evening it went off for the night. Monika and I went to Susan’s for a bit because she had a generator. We were able to eat a normal meal and sit in the warmth.

Saturday morning it came on twice for about 5 minutes each time and then that was it – the power never came back on. I don’t even really consider the power coming on Saturday morning for 5 minutes having power since I wasn’t able to actually do anything!

By this point I was getting annoyed. I was cold, bored, and hungry! I was getting very sick of cereal and apples.

Sunday morning Adriancooked pancakes over a fire for breakfast. Then we went to Susan’s to shower. I was also going to use her land line, but that morning the generator for it went down. So Sunday morning we were completely off the grid. No power, water, heat, food, cell service, internet, or land lines. Rough times!

Sunday night I was getting pretty cold again. The power had been on the heat the house since Friday morning. In some of the teacherages you could see your breath. So Sunday night I slept at Susan’s house with Monika and Adrian. She has a couple spare bedrooms so it was really nice of her to let us stay.

Monday morning is when they finally decided to send us home. We had to pack a bag in about 10 minutes, but then were told there wasn’t room for us on that flight so we’d leave a little later. Then about 5 minutes after that Monika came rushing back to say another flight had landed and we were to get on it. We rushed to the airport and luckily the plane waited for us. It was rather stressful because they shoved us on the plane and said when you get to Sioux Lookout you’ll have to figure out how to get home!

When I got into Sioux Lookout I tried getting a flight to Thunder Baybut it was full. They were also very confused as to how I got out of NSL because I was scheduled on the flight. I ended up taking a ‘bus’ to Thunder Bay. I put this in quotation marks because it was actually a van that picked me up in a Subway restaurant parking lot. It sat about 10 people and doesn’t take any more than that. I had to laugh because if I was still in Africathe van would have been overloaded with people, rice, and chickens!

The bus ride wasn’t too bad but it was cutting it close to getting on a plane to Toronto. I got into TBay at about 7:30and the last plane out was at 8:15. I booked it to the airport and made it just in time to get on the plane. I finally got back to KW around 11:30. I was pretty impressed with myself that I was able to get all the way home for only about $200!

I spent Tuesday and Wednesday hanging out with a couple friends. I got an email Wednesday morning saying to come back. They managed to get the power working Tuesday night and the school would be up and running Monday. So I got a massage Thursday afternoon and then headed to Thunder BayThursday night.

I stayed over in TBay Thursday with some people from NSL. Then Friday afternoon we left to drive up to NSL. It was a really long drive – about 12 hours! I never want to do it again. The winter road was really bumpy. I felt like I was back in Burundion the bus. I was surprised that only about 1km of the trip on the winter road was over a lake. Most of the 4.5 hour drive is on land – very bumpy land. I was hoping to see some animals on the drive, but all we saw was one fox.

I had to go to the store today for a big shopping trip because I had to throw out most of my food. It was so sad throwing out meat. The water isn’t completely fixed yet either. It was on this morning, but it’s been off all afternoon. I think they are looking for a leak. I need to go into the school tomorrow since class starts back Monday. From what I hear the kids are excited to come back to school. I think I’ll be spending the first couple days just doing some fun back into routine activities since we’ve been off for 3 weeks.

Well that’s all for now. Updates should be back to normal next week if the power stays on!

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“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” –Walt Disney

It’s Sunday morning and I’m sitting here in a hotel so I thought I’d send out a quick update about my travels. The holidays home were nice, but way too short. I didn’t get to do half the things I wanted to do and I forgot to pick up a few things that I needed. Despite that it was nice to see my family and friends and eat at a couple restaurants! The weather was also really nice. It was much warmer then what I had been in for the last few months.

Traveling back up North hasn’t been without its hiccups. Traveling in Northwestern Ontario can be rather difficult in the winter and almost seem impossible at times. I left Toronto Friday morning and headed to Sudbury. The flight was a little delayed because Friday was the cold day in Toronto. The plane was too cold to put us onto and they were having trouble locating a heater. It wasn't delayed for too long though, so it wasn’t that bad.

I had a short layover in Sudburybefore heading to Thunder Bay. They were skeptical about us being able to fly into Thunder Bay because the storm from Alberta was heading there. We landed in Sault Saint Marie and they checked the weather. It wasn’t bad yet so we headed off. I was a little tense going into Thunder Baybecause the snow had started so there was a lot of turbulence, but we landed and I was happy to be done with planes for the night.

I had to wait for a while in the cold for a taxi, but there were a couple other people heading in a similar direction so we shared one. When I checked into the hotel my reservation was all messed up. It said I wanted a smoking room. Luckily they still had some non-smoking rooms available. It also said that I was from Iceland. Not sure how that happened! After checking in I went and got some dinner then hung out in my hotel room. I was pretty tired and had a headache so it was nice to just watch some TV for a bit.

I headed to the airport in the morning and was happy to find that the snowplows had gotten the roads cleared and all the flights were on time (relatively).

While waiting from my flight to Sioux Lookout I met up with two other teachers from my community that were heading back also. The flight was a little late leaving, but I’ve come to expect that from Wasaya. We got to Sioux Lookout without any problem and had to wait for a little bit for the flight up to North Spirit Lake.

We flew to Sandy Lake and then Red Lake without incident. We were late leaving Red Lake because for some reason it took forever to get the airplane fueled up. When we finally took off we headed to Pikangikum. This reserve is pretty close to mine – about a 15 minute flight away. After unloading a couple people and some baggage we sat there with the plane running for quite a while. Finally the pilot told us that the brakes had frozen and they were trying to get them unfrozen. Eventually they decided to go out and try to scrap the ice off. There is hot air that they blow onto the brakes to keep them from freezing, but it was really windy and a lot of blowing snow that the hot air wasn’t able to blow onto the brakes. Finally the pilots had to give up and call in another plane.

We all had to get off and wait in the airport for the other plane. Airports in Northern Ontario aren’t as comfortable as down South. It’s basically a trailer without any heat. I was glad I was bundled up, but I still got a bit cold just standing around. I was joking that I've become used to waiting around for things when I was in Burundi. I said that in Burundi we would have had to wait twice as long, but at least it was warm there! The other plane finally arrived and we got on to set out. They got the bags loaded up pretty quickly, but the brakes still managed to start freezing. Luckily not as much as the first plane so they were able to get them unstuck.

We took off and headed over to Poplar Hill. It’s about 15 minutes to there as well. We were there for about 5 minutes and the brakes had already froze because of the cold blowing wind. They once again got them unstuck and we took off, however they decided not to risk it again by flying into NSL so we had to turn back to Sioux Lookout. NSL is about 15 minutes from Poplar Hill and we had been flying since 9:30am so it was rather disappointing, but they made the right call. If the plane had gotten stuck in NSL there wouldn’t be a lot of places for the people on the plane to stay. Plus there aren’t any hangers for the plane to go for the night.

So back in Sioux Lookout Wasaya put us up in a hotel for the night and gave us money for dinner. By the time we got back to Sioux Lookout we had been traveling for about 8 hours. I was tired and hungry and cold. But I had a good meal and there were lots of blankets on my bed.

Right now we’re at the hotel waiting to hear if we can go to NSL today. Wasaya doesn’t actually fly to NSL on Sundays so they have to see if they have any other flights with space for us that can detour to NSL. If that isn’t possible then they have us booked for the Monday flight.

Flying in on Monday won’t actually be too bad because of the looks of things there won’t be school on Monday anyways. There were a ton of power outages in NSL over the Christmas holidays and that resulted in the boilers at the school to break down. If there is no heat we can’t hold classes. Everything has been done to try to get them back online, but nothing has worked so we probably have to wait for someone from the company to come up and fix them. So I imagine that it’s going to be an uneventful week and a late start to the school term.

Well that’s all for now. I will let my parents know if I get into NSL today so they can tell anyone who wants to know. But I’m fine so you don’t have to worry!


Happy New Year!



I flew out of Sioux Lookout at about 2:30 and arrived in NSL around 4:30pm. I am so happy to be back! I came home to a very cold house, no internet, and no food. I hung out with Monika for the night since she has been here a couple days. Her house was warm and she made me dinner. The heating system at the school won't be fixed for a few days so as of now school is closed until further noticed. I'm looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow and having time to go buy food.

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“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” ― Oprah Winfrey

Well it’s that time of the week again. This post is coming to you from the Thunder Bayairport. I’m at the airport way too early for my flight so I’m taking the time to write this up. This week was a little crazy with it being the concert, feast, and last week of school. Monday full day at the school, but not a lot of kids came. I think I had about 5-7 kids absent. We needed to decorate the gym for the Christmas concert so we spent the day making Christmas crafts. The kids really enjoyed themselves and they made some really good decoration. By the end of the day the classroom was filled with glue and glitter!

Tuesday we only school in the morning so that we could set up for the concert and feast. The kids were very happy to leave school at 11am. The cook never showed up for work to make the food for the feast so we had to take home a few turkeys and other things to cook over the afternoon.

Tuesday night was the night we’d been preparing for. The gym was packed with parents and the food was set out. I got my kids lined up and put red noses on everyone and gave them a tail and antlers. They all looked so cute! They were all so nervous going up on the stage. The two songs we sang – Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and The Reindeer Pokey – didn’t go as well as they had during rehearsal, but they still did great and the parents seemed to enjoy it. When they got off the stage they all told me that it wasn’t as scary as thought it would be and asked when they were going to get to do it again. I had to say that unfortunately that was the only time, but I enjoyed hearing their enthusiasm. Next year we’ll start practicing in November!

Wednesday we only had school in the afternoon. It was nice to sleep in a bit. I put on a movie for the kids for the afternoon. Surprisingly quite a bit of my kids showed up. I started feeling sick later on so it was good they were only watching a movie.

After school we had to organize the kitchen. I tried to help out but I felt so sick so I had to go home. I think I got some kind of 24 hour flu. A few other people got it to.  

Thursday I was still feeling sick and it was a regular day at school. Luckily I had about 5 kids absent so we didn’t do a whole lot. The cook didn’t show up again so we had to make lunch for the kids as we taught. I played a new math game with my class so that I could come and go to check on the food. They really enjoyed it and later told me they were so lucky because they didn’t have to do math that day. I laughed and thought to myself “ha I fooled you!”

Friday was a very boring day at school. Most classes only had a handful of kids show up – like 3 or 4. I on the other hand had only 3 kids absent. So we did some work in the morning. Monika came into my classroom and was surprised to see them doing work. Then they spent the afternoon playing. The kids were then sent home early because we weren’t really doing anything. However, since the bus is broken my kids have to wait at the school until someone comes to pick them up. We posted a message for them to come, but not many parents came! We eventually had to drive a few home.

Friday night I spent packing and them went to Susan’s for dinner. Susan was out of town, but her son Brandon and his girlfriend Destiny were home for the holidays. It was Brandon’s birthday so Adriancooked up a big meal. It was a nice last night in NSL.

Saturday morning when I woke up I took my time getting ready. I had finished packing and I didn’t need to go to the airport until 1pm. However, just as I was about to make breakfast the power went out. So I didn’t get to make anything to eat! I also had dished that needed to be done. Luckily there is snow everywhere so I grabbed some snow and let it melt a bit and used that to wash my dishes. Sometimes you just have to make due with the resources at hand! I was rather bored Saturday morning because my computer had died. I spent a couple hours just pacing around my house trying to occupy myself.

I left NSL around 1:30pmand we stopped in a couple places before getting to Sioux Lookout. We didn’t realize that we had to get off the plane and wait for a different plane to Thunder Bay. We were all just sitting there when the pilot was like “okay here you go.” I was at the front so I asked if we were supposed to get off. So we had to wait in the Sioux Lookout airport for close to 2 hours before we finally headed off to Thunder Bay.

Saturday night myself, Adrian, Monika, and Ron were all staying over at the same hotel (and the hotel across the road). So when everyone was finally there we went out for a bite to eat and a celebratory drink. It was a fun last night with some of the other teachers.

Oh here’s a kind of funny incident that happened in Thunder Bay. Every time I got into the cab I forgot to put my seat belt on. I guess after a year in a country with no seat belts and four months in a community with no seat belts, you start to lose the habit of putting on a seat belt!

Sunday I barely left the hotel room. I watched a Harry Potter marathon all day. I even had pizza delivered to my room from across the street. It was an extremely lazy day! I also had to laugh a lot about all the power outage statuses from Torontoand Kitchener/Waterloo area. I found it funny how frantic people got without any power for a day. But I guess after going weeks without power in Burundiand then frequent power outages in NSL having no power isn’t really a big deal to me anymore.

Like I said right now I’m at the airport. My flight doesn’t leave until 4:15and I forgot to get a late check out so I’ve been at the airport since about 11:30. It’s pretty boring, but oh well. I’m looking forward to the warm weather in Kitchener! When I got off the plane in Thunder Bayand it was only -20 at 7pmit felt so warm!

Well that’s about it for my post this week. I had a pretty busy week playing teacher, music coach, and cook. I’m looking forward to a holiday, but I don’t think it’ll be all that relaxing because I have so many people to see. I’m excited to spend Christmas at home this year.

I posted pictures from the Christmas concert so check them out! I will upload a video of my students performing as soon as I can figure out how to do it. This will be my last post until after the holidays, so Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year! 

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