Written by Gabrielle Foss
Our last full day in Nain began in a spectacular way. Jonathan took Patrick and I on a hike out of town, early enough in the morning that the golden sun glistened off the snow and shone through the trees. We picked berries, and rebuilt an inukshuk that had toppled at the top of the hill we climbed. It was a grand time, and an excellent opportunity to sit down and practice being present. Moments like these - spent in silence, in nature - are invaluable to allow the many thoughts and emotions that have come up this week to sort themselves out.
In the afternoon we visited the Level III class. It was sweet to be in a smaller class, where we could learn everyone’s names, and then pick on them to participate in the photography demonstrations. When going over the photography tips, one student really got into his character as the model, working it like a professional. This final in-school session felt very relaxed and smooth, the fourth time’s the charm I suppose!
After school, most enjoyed more sports in the gym, while some lent a hand to frame photos as thank you gifts and make a Nain in Focus sign for the closing event. Post-project surveys were distributed as another snack of Rice Krispy squares was enjoyed, and many of the feedback forms were handed back with kind messages asking us to come back! Next up was Onions & Orchids, one of my favourite reflection activities (originally introduced by James Raffan while on expedition with Students on Ice). Wednesday night’s bonfire was a highlight for many, myself included.
For half an hour before our dinner break, we handed out journals and introduced the art of writing for self-care. Ashley provided some of James Raffan’s “entry points” to get everyone started, and I led a free-writing activity. For four minutes, the youth were encouraged to write non-stop as I posed a series of questions including: what makes you happy, describe a time you felt alone, who did you reach out to for help or who could you reach out to in the future, who is a mentor of yours, and what makes you feel proud. Warm fuzzies were handed out before the closing event began later in the evening.
The incredible Ocean Wyatt served as the Master of Ceremonies for the event, which welcomed participants, their parents, and any other community member who wanted to attend. We showed a slideshow of photos from the week, the angajukKâk (mayor) of Nain spoke, the Labrador anthem was sung, there was a beautiful throat singing performance, and Simeonie (a workshop participant) spoke from the heart about thinking positively. Lastly, Ashley addressed the audience on behalf of the North in Focus team, thanking the various individuals and organizations for supporting the Nain in Focus workshop.
-Megan Dicker, who spoke about using social media to spread positivity
-Christine Peddle, who talked about the benefits of counseling
-Jonathan Lidd, who encouraged his peers to go off on the land
-Danielle Baikie, who provided an overview of the impacts of intergenerational trauma
-Maria Merkuratsuk, who bravely shared her story of lived experience with mental illness
-And last but certainly not least, Kaila deBoer and the Nunatsiavut Government for funding this project, allowing us to bring an ambitious idea to life!
The night ended with games, a dance party, and bittersweet tears being shed as we all parted ways. Overall, the week was a great success. A core group of about 20 youth participated in the workshop, with one after-school gym session seeing 40 young faces. Over the course of the six days of Nain in Focus: many games of volleyball and ball hockey were played, countless cups of Tetley were consumed, candles were lit around a campfire, laughs and discussions were had, hundreds of supportive messages were written on post-it notes, and plenty of beautiful photos were taken. Nain will always hold a special place in my heart, and I hope to someday return to “our beautiful land”, Nunatsiavut.
Lots of love and keep creating good days,